The Big Leagues
The typewriter revival has made portable typewriters fashionable and even somewhat valuable, but the big office machines sit. neglected in flea markets and thrift stores. But if you have space for a desktop type- writer, and you intend to get real work done, the desktop machine will earn its keep.
Why are there big heavy beasts like this Royal HH if the portables can do the same job? An acquaintance asked that question the other day, and it was a reasonable thing to ask.
The answer is that, generally, the smaller portables can’t do the same job. They may have all the same features that their big sisters have, but those big machines are big for a reason. They were built to be typed on by professionals day after day, year after year, and the market weeded out the ones that couldn’t take it. It also weeded out the ones that wore out a professional typist. If you use a desktop typewriter for a while, you will sense the compromise you are making when you go back to a portable. With more room for all the parts to do what they have to do, the big machines can refine their actions until they feel just right. It seems as though the desktop typewriter evolved to be just about exactly the right size for a mechanical writing machine, and all the portable designs are clever solutions to the problem of being too small.
This is not to say that there are no good portable typewriters. On the contrary, you can hardly go wrong with any portable made in the United States between 1940 and 1960 or thereabouts. They all feel very good to type on. But the big office machines from the same era will feel better.
So look around you and see whether there’s a desk where a typewriter might take up permanent residence. Then, the next time you see a full-size desk machine in good shape, give it an appreciative home.