|to see Royal portables, including those derived from the Traveler.|
|to see the Nippo machines descended from the Traveler.|
|to the Portable Typewriter Reference Site Index page|
At left is a machine which can safely be called one of the rarest of all typewriters built in the post-War period. It is a TRAVELER, manufactured from roughly 1952-1954 by Halberg Machinefabriek, Cuyk, Holland. Later, copies appeared from ROYAL and NIPPO.
An article about what this machine would be like, were it ever found, occupied the web space you're now reading for over a year. It used as models the two known descendants of this machine. That content has been removed, now that we have an actual example to study, and what follows is what this example reveals about the whole story.
|According to available information, which is scarce, this small, flat portable was introduced in 1952, and was just one part of a large movement of makers (both established and new) to introduce flat "travelling" typewriters. We also know that the production of this machine in its original marque was very short indeed, having ended partway through 1954. The design, the tooling and the factory were all sold to Royal Typewriter Company, who formed a subsidiary known as Royal Typewriters Holland NV to produce the machines. Serial number records seem to indicate that Royal production took over during the year 1955, beginning in the middle 35,000 serial number range.
However, this official information is thrown askew by the serial number of the Halberg Traveler you see here. It is very clearly labeled "Halberg Machinefabriek N.V. Made in Holland" on its rear, but it also has serial number 40908. This number by itself would seem to indicate that the official records are wrong, but the serial records would also indicate that Royal may have bought stock in the company, perhaps a controlling interest, around the time that the serial number list begins in Royal records (at machine 35,638.) In fact, a slight discrepancy exists with the records, since in these, the given date for Royal 35,638 is 1955, and the "above 35000" for Halberg machines is given as 1954.
|How, then, do we interpret this data? It may in fact be true that Halberg originally license-built machines for Royal, beginning with number 35,638 in 1954. Following this, the buyout saw the factory become the property of Royal (Royal Typewriters Holland NV) and also saw Royal itself evolve into the Royal-McBee corporation, which merger took place in 1954 as well. The Holland-based subsidiary then became Royal-McBee Nederlands NV, which is the label you'll find on the vast majority of Holland-made Royal machines. Halberg production probably actually ended in 1955.
(We can, at this point, be no more exact in our timing other than to say that all of this was going on at roughly the same time -- ie, during 1954 and 1955. Exact dates are impossible -- and by the serial of this Traveler, we know that the records do not accurately represent the situation.)
|Royal ROYALITE At left, the better-known descendant of the Halberg design. This machine matches the Halberg more closely in mechanical detail than does the Japanese-made descendant -- although the changes could be described as, for the most part, insignificant. One major difference between descendants is the fact that the Royal machine uses the same line space mechanism, while that of the Japanese-made NIPPO machines is entirely different.|
|Del Mar (Nippo) This machine is the Nippo-built descendant; the carryover of the shoulders on the casing is evident. On the Halberg, a raised rear section prevented carriage damage while the machine was in its case, and on both Royal-made and Nippo-made versions this rear shield is even larger. Note that ALL of these earliest machines are all green in decor. Below, the Del Mar and the Traveler side-by-side for comparison.|
|Details of the Halberg Traveler. The Traveler you see here is accompanied by its original instruction manual, which is lucky indeed since this manual is a rather inexpensively produced thing -- the kind of thing normally destroyed or lost. It does reveal the fact that the Traveler came in two models. Both models incorporated exactly the same machine but differed in the style of case.
The Traveler included a snap-over "light metal cover," which appears to have been extremely similar in concept to that found on contemporary machines such as the Smith-Corona Skyriter. The Traveler De Luxe model included a zippered case, made of cloth, with leather handles. The machine you see here has this case, although it appears by the instructions that the case should originally have included some sort of metal base, or perhaps an applied vinyl sheet with clips, or clamps, to hold the machine to the cloth case. This is now missing -- and the inner insert of the top portion of the case is now loose as well. Without this appurtenance, the case appears just like that of every other zipper-case machine. It is only through the instruction manual that we know of the existence of this now-missing part of the case. Unfortunately, it is not pictured.
Here's something from the manual. "FACTS PROBABLY KNOWN TO THE EXPERIENCED TYPIST. This typewriter has been specially designed for superb service and for speeding up your work as never before. The very light touch and the precisely rhythmic tap-tap of the keys will show you at once that this new machine is the final result of a great deal of research and development work and will prove a trusty friend for many years to come." If that sounds vaguely familiar, check out the quote from the instructions that I give in my pages on the NIPPO.
|So, how rare is this thing? Well, for starters, I can guarantee positively the existence of two. Only one of these is in the hands of a collector -- the other was only "spotted." There are many (many) more Rooy machines, more Barr machines, more of just about anything you can think of made post-war than there are TRAVELERS.
Why? Well, it appears that production was indeed brief, and small. Moreover, the machines are not among the most substantial machines, and failure in the following years would likely have led not to repair but replacement. Many would have been damaged in the intervening time period, especially those in soft cases. The market was being saturated with similar machines, as regular site readers are already aware, all of which were better. You actually wouldn't expect many of these to still be around -- and they're not.
Interesting fact: This machine was sold originally by Arrow Typewriter Company, 917 Huron Road (later moved to 5585 Pearl Road) Cleveland, Ohio.
There you have it! The details of yet another long-sought-after machine. It turns out that some of our assumptions about it were correct, some were not; neither follow-on machine is exactly like the Halberg! This makes the Halberg all the more interesting and desirable since it's not available in some later other-branded "knock-off" version.
|Mechanically, the Traveler falls in line with the established Hermes and Smith-Corona machines in the same size bracket, in that it incorporates a fully front-mounted type bar mechanism, which in this case is a peculiar and fresh design (carried directly over to both descendants.) One difference is the carriage shift; in the Hermes and Smith-Corona contemporaries, the carriage shift is a rocking type, but in the Traveler, an up and back planar action is used.
The machine includes margin release key, and back spacer. No tabulator installed or offered. 42 keys / 84 characters. One-piece removable top cover for ribbon changing access, of a design different from that of the later Royal machines, and totally unlike the Nippo machines which have 'gull-wing' doors.