Typewriter Database: Royal page completely revamped…

Whew! I’ve finally finished updating and correcting the TW-DB numbers for Royal, and what a mess that was. Pretty much all of the dates were wrong – at least a year off, and sometimes more in some cases. I suspect that most of it probably came from a typo that Mr. Schumann might have made in his spreadsheet, as I found some instances where years were simply skipped. Could be he originally had fairly close numbers and the date column got misaligned. In any case, it’s fixed. (:

The sources that Mr Schumann used to compile the Royal list are mostly unavailable to me, so I could not check to see if the original source was off or if the data was simply transcribed incorrectly. If anyone has copies of these sources, I’d like to check them just to verify:

“Fabriknummernverzeichnis” (Factory number Listing), booklet which could be purchased optionally with book reference No. 4, edition 1941, publ. by Johannes Meyer Verlag, Pappenheim 1941

Ernst Martin, Die Schreibmaschine und ihre Entwicklungsgeschichte(The Typewriter and the history of it’s developement), publ. by Johannes Meyer Verlag and Basten International, 1920 to 1949 and reprints

Office Typewriter Age List No. 26, publ. by Smith-Corona, by courtesy of Mr. Ron Fuller, Los Angeles, USA

Typewriter Age Guide, publ. by Office Machines and Equipment Federation, London, copies contributed by Mr. Bruce Beard, Australia

If you have copies, please let me know how I can get ahold of at least the age list tables – I’d appreciate it.

The sources I do have access to all agree almost exactly as to the serial numbers and dates, and that was a pleasant surprise. I expected more variance, but once I compared them all side-by-side, I found them matching up with each other with almost perfect precision. That gave me a great deal of confidence that I was on the right track, and over the past year I’ve been using these numbers to date quite a few machines I’ve encountered and that have been asked about in the typosphere. Invariably, these lists produced dates that made sense considering what we know about body styles and features we should expect for certain years on certain machines – again, a good clue that TW-DB was just off track and that these contemporary sources were much better and more accurate.

In the end, I was able to make use of *ALL* the contemporary sources I had access to, without more than a couple variances. Here they are:

Wilfred Beeching’s “Century of the Typewriter” Pages 160-161 Pub. 1974

Beeching, which is also one of the sources that Mr. Schumann used, is generally vague and probably not entirely accurate, but is the only source we currently have for later-model Royal Portables like the Safari and Royalite. In those cases where we have no other source to confirm or deny Beeching’s numbers, I’ve let them stand. It would be nice to have more recent and reliable data for these later-model Royal Portables, and that’s on my wish list.

NOMDA Royal Portables, 1961-62

NOMDA Royal Portables, 1962

The best and most clear data for older Royal Portables exists only in these two pages gleaned from Bill Wahl’s collection of NOMDA (National Office Machine Dealer Association) line books from the early 1960’s. All of the other sources either completely ignore portables, or only run the first column of numbers for the higher-end portables and ignore the lower end portables in the second column. This had previously led to a lot of people dating 1920’s machines as being made in the 30’s, and then being a couple of years off in addition due to TW-DB’s year-shift problem. This is where I started – basically wiping out the entire Portables section and replacing it with these NOMDA numbers. Sadly, they end at 1959, and we could use data for 1960 to the 1970’s.

NOMDA Standards, 1961

NOMDA Electrics, 1961

NOMDA Standards, 1962

NOMDA Standards, 1964, compiled by Olivetti-Underwood

NOMDA Electrics, 1964, compiled by Olivetti-Underwood

NOMDA, April 1984

NOMDA, April 1984

The NOMDA lists above, all provided by Bill Wahl of Mesa Typewriter Exchange, list Royal Standards and Electics in different pages and columns, but the number series between the two are practically identical. For the purposes of the Typewriter Database, I decided to group all standards and electrics together with a note to the effect that very early electrics were numbered to 16M then they switch to the same serial number series as standards. (16 thousand – “M” stands for “Mille” not “Million”, and “Mille” is latin or french or whatever for “Thousand”. This is something I know only because I spent a lot of time in the printing industry. anyway, anywhere you see “M” in these lists, you can substitute 3 zeros, “000”.)

Royal according to the Remington Factory, early 50’s

Royal according to the Remington Factory, early 50’s

Royal according to the Remington Factory, early 50’s

Royal according to the Remington Factory, early 50’s

The 4 pages above, supplied by Richard Polt, are from a larger package of data from the Remington factory, and is apparently from the records kept by Remington on their rivals. It too, is highly accurate and detailed, and mentions specifically that the Electrics followed the same serial number series as Standards. It agrees in nearly every detail with the NOMDA Lists, but expands on that data by offering many more details about specific models. This was invaluable in correcting the weird notes in the Standards section of TW-DB which were apparently gleaned from Beeching. Beeching tells you to treat certain “Y” prefix machines as if they came from earlier runs. The Remington notes explain why and state much more clearly how the rebuilt “Y” prefix machines should be treated date-wise.

Royal Line List, 1959?

Olivetti-Underwood line list, 1960’s

Olivetti-Underwood line list, 1960’s

The line lists shown above, provided by the Davis brothers and hosted here at MOLG, served mainly as confirmation of the lists already mentioned. It was very nice to have them line up so nicely with the other data.

Other validating data was examined from here at MOLG. This list also states specifically that Royal Electrics and Standards were in the same serial number series.

All of the above data from NOMDA, REMINGTON and the alternate lists directly contradicted the entire date range that TW-DB had listed for Standards, so I ended up ripping that ENTIRE section out as well and rebuilding it. The sources above also had a much more complete date range, once you compiled them together, so it worked out pretty nicely.

Therefore, if you dated your Royal *anything* with TW-DB before today, you most likely have an inaccurate date, possibly only by a year, but very likely more. I suggest re-dating all of your Royals according to the new list.


Questions, comments, suggestions, new data? Comment below:

Updated: August 13, 2014 — 8:11 am


  1. Great job working on the TW-DB (Something I’ve used a lot)!

    Since I recently bought a Voss typewriter I found that the TW-DB is severely lacking on that brand. I found this page http://typewriters.ch/collection/VOSS.html in German (translated it to English via Google Chrome) and found a lot more information about dating for Vosses.

    Not being as common, they’re probably not going to be high on your to-do list, but maybe that’ll help?

    Thanks again for all of your work! It’s awesome!

    1. Ahh yes, George Sommeregger does it again! (:

      Excellent, I had no data on Vossen and that’ll be an easy one. Might do Voss tonight.

  2. You’re doing a great job on this! BTW… I’ll have to pass on my info about a Smith-Corona variant that was here in Australia – the HG Palmer line (sort of like your Tower line), as soon as my research is complete.

  3. My my that’s a heck lot of work you’ve done D:
    Keep chugging, you’re doing an awesome job!

  4. Very good of you to show the source material and describe your processes. Wonderful work.
    == Michael Höhne

  5. Great work! Thanks for all your hard work you are putting into this.

  6. Hello, too much honour… for the VOSS page, I merely replicated Schramm, Liste the Herstellungsdaten deutscher und ausländischer Schreibmaschinen, Hans Burghagen Verlag, 11th ed., Hamburg 1962. Commonly called “the Burghagen list” in collectors’ circuits, it is probably THE major source for typewriter serial numbers and manufacturing years – prior to the new database, that is :)
    It was also one of the major sources feeding the tw-db (the ubiquitous source no. 13), however the tw-db used the 10th edition 1955. I could not compare the two versions, but for sure the standard 11th edition contains some more or more recent data. I can certainly help you out with data from this book.

    1. I would love to see scans or translations of any age lists from that book, as I haven’t got much data on European brands. I imagine that if I read German I’d see that there’s probably a lot of material that would be useful to the project that I’m missing out on. (:

  7. Thank you for all this work — the Database is essential and you are definitely improving it!

  8. Thank you for all the hard work you are doing on the serial number database. It’s tedious, time consuming work but it’s going to make a difference.

  9. Love your work and information here!! I have recently acquired a Royal typewriter with a serial number of KMM-2513710. I was interested in finding out the date of origin. From research I think it was 1939-1940, however I am not certain I am reading the charts properly. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

    1. KMM-2513710 would be early 1940.

  10. Félicitations et merci pour ce bel outil.
    J’ai à disposition la liste des no pour les Hermes Baby.
    Si vous le désirez, je vous la communique. Donnez moi une adresse mail.
    Jacques Perrier

  11. Please help. I have Royal KMM11-3059046 desktop, made in Canada, 4 patent dates – the last being 1924. There is no 1 key, nor 0 key and has a couple of French accent keys. Would it be 1945 or earlier. My parents had it and, now, it’s time for it to find a new home. I haven’t been able to find out much about it at all. I would appreciate any help you can give me.
    Thank you.

  12. Very nice work! I just bought a Royal Portable, the serial number is O-460774, would that mean it was made between 1935-1936?


    1. The Royal page at the Typewriter Database is now updated with the latest and best info we have. Serial #O-460774 is a Model O Portable made in 1935. (:

  13. Good work. I need a double check KMM-3478651 assuming 1939

  14. Could you please tell me the year of manufacturing on my Royal Typewriter Serial number X1336280. Thank You

    1. You know, I’ve spent a great deal of time, energy and money building a site where you can simply look that information up, and yet somehow these threads tend to devolve into people asking me to look it up for them. Since I’m the sort who would much rather teach fishing than hand out fish, I will once again give you the link to look it up:
      and then I’m locking comments on this thread. Have fun catching your own fish. (:

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