Royal Futura 800 (1958)
If you were to judge a typewriter solely by its looks, then the Royal Futura 800 would be a winner. But when you start typing on this typewriter, it becomes quickly apparent that this is not the machine for the serious writer. However, what makes this typewriter unique is the typeface. It has a cool aesthetic that is whimsical and fun. The action is nice enough, just not real solid. It makes a hollow sort of sound, and does not fill you with confidence. Looking at the marketing materials, suggests that it was intended for the home user with only the occasional typing needs. And with a wide range of colors, the Royal Futura 800 is sure to fit with any home decor. It’s great to look at, but when you start banging out words, you’re left with an empty feeling. I’m not sure why it feels this way, since the typewriter feels solid and heavy and has the rugged Royal name. It’s a user-friendly machine, with clearly marked buttons for setting margins and columns. They’re labelled “Magic” as if there’s a little genie living inside your typewriter, ready to do your bidding. But the magic fades when you start typing. If your writing project is not too ambitious, then it’s a fine typewriter with loads of style. And again, that killer typeface! Way cool. That alone is worth the price.
Inspiring reviews and gorgeous photos!
“Your face and skin will start to glow.”
Typeface varies from machine to machine. Not all Futuras have the same typeface.
As a typewriter engineer of over forty years now I really have to disagree with this article.
I have both rebuilt and personally used several Futura’s over the years and they really are absolutely beautiful machines to use if the carriage has not been knocked heavily in the past and if they are serviced and set up correctly. The hollow feel you have described when typing can often be atributed to many things such as wear in the ribbon reverse pawl and/or a worn or hardened platen which no longer absorbs the shock of the slugs.
Another problem we often hear of now from those people new to buying older typewriters is the the noise or sound of the machine itself and of the variation in typeface clarity without ever considering that it is their own erratic four fingered typing skills which are often discovered to be the culprit even when the platen is found to be in excellent order.
Typists use all ten fingers. Amatuers often three of four at most, and forget the keys have to be sharply and snappily struck and not lightly tapped
Rarely are slugs to be found off their feet (not striking the platen squarely) but of course, if the platen has been resurfaced in the past and is the original, that also causes a lot of clarity problems, as do both portable and business machines that have been used for cutting old Roneo stencils as the wax in the stencil papers often caused the platens to swell unevenly over the years.
Remember, none of these faults will be obvious when you buy online, particularly from machines sold on the free ads pages or auction websites so be warned that although any classic machine may well look great from a picture, it may still run like a three legged dog and be a costly mistake when you finally get to type on it so always insist on seeing at least a sentence which has been previously typed on the particular machine before buying – and also ask to see if the machine is in correct alignment with both capital and lower case letters such as Hh Mm Ee etc
Based on your endorsement, I’ll have to get another Futura and update the review!
And great purchasing reminders! Always ask for a typed sample! Always.
I just bought my first typewriter today at an antique shop. I know nothing about typewriters, I just was hoping to find one someday and didn’t have much money to spend. I bought a Royal Futura 800 in the dusty-bluish color for 30 dollars. It appeared to look good, but didn’t know how to use it or if it actually worked. I took it home and my dad tinkered with it a bit and we’ve found that it does work and appears to be in good shape. We have been able to type a bit on it, but it will need to be cleaned. If you have any advice about this machine that might prove helpful, I’d appreciate it!
A new typewriter! How fun! Congrats. You’ve got a fun machine. I love the colors in those Futuras.
About the only thing that I ever clean are the type slugs. If it hasn’t been used or cleaned in decades, it can have ink and gunk in the slugs. I use a toothbrush plus some Goof Off. Otherwise, if it works, I don’t monkey around with other cleaning for fear of screwing it up! As long as it has clean copy, it’s good to go!
Hi John, I’ve take mine apart – just for practice. A clip-like piece fell out of each side as I removed the sides. I didn’t see them before they fell out and have no idea how/where to put them back in. I would love to talk to you about it.
This seller liked your review a lot. http://www.ebay.com/ulk/itm/321992259889
Thx for the heads up. I’ll contact my legal team. smile.
Thanks for the review, good info. I agree, that typeface is reason alone to seek out Futuras. The typeface is apparently called “Merit”, and was the “standard” typeface on most Futuras. However, as Mark above points out, there were many other typefaces available. I find the Futura an eminently enjoyable typewriter; it’s no Quiet Deluxe, but then again, not many other typewriters are either.
I purchased a Royal 600 Futura online a few days ago before reading your review and of course my heart sank a little. Still waiting for it and we’ll see – heartened in the meantime however by John’s response in ’16. I bought it for three reasons: cool look; great name; nifty type font (as mentioned) and – bonus reason – the top flipping up when you press the ‘Royal.’ From the looks of the typing sample they sent (see link) this might work out better than the one you have/tried; I hope so. I am in the opposite camp with the Olivetti Studio 44 – I love the clunky feel by the type itself (even after changing the ribbon) is rather ragged. Might require some pro help. I still love it, though: https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1498729669
UPDATE: So, I have been using The Royal 600 Futura for about a week or so and I love it. Yes – the feel is a little plastic-like, but in a joyful way. In a way, it resembles my Olympia SM9 a bit (not at all like the hearty SM3) – The font is fantastic. All systems go. Don’t be afraid of buying this machine. Now if it were only blue.
Hi Daniel. I came across your post doing research on the Royal Futura 800. I found it at a Good Will store for my 11 year old daughter for Christmas. This one comes in a suitcase. It seems in decent shape. I have to clean it up. It even has the metal spools that I love. I can’t get it out of the case to clean though. Any knowledge on how to remove it? Also, do you know a good vendor on Amazon that sells the metal spools with black ribbon? Appreciate your thoughts. Thank you!
Hi Chiara, I saw your comment so thought I would answer. The typewriter should have a lever on each side. Pull those out then slide it forward. That’s it.
Do not replace the spools. Measure the width of the ribbon and buy the same width. It is pretty easy to figure out how to put the new ribbon onto the old spool. Good luck!
Hi there. Wow! It worked. Thank you. I unclasped it and slid it forward and viola’. Thank you so much for your reply back. Next…ribbon spooling.
Between this review and all the comments, I can only smile that smile that only us typewriter collectors can appreciate. It seems there can be no agreement on what is a “good”, “not so good”, or “the best” typewriter, there are so so many variables in taste, and these old machines come in wide ranging conditions. My first two typewriters, bought years ago in complete ignorance (maybe I read something online) were a Futura 800 and a Hermes 3000. I could not decide which one I liked typing on better, there were pros and cons. The Future was much more attractive than the late-model 3000. I just bought my 3rd Futura, I find the gorgeous lines and colors irresistible. Very many machines later, I now know that neither of my first machines are my favorite typers, or lookers, Are any of the Futura 800’s in my top 10? Probably not quite. But this evolved QDL is a great machine and a looker, don’t be dissuaded!