The Zenith Royal 50 Family and Other Early Shirt Pockets

The Royal 50 family consists of three generations that were produced from 1960 through 1963.  They represented Zenith’s entry into the smaller 6 transistor shirt pocket sized radios and was their answer to the sets coming out of Japan like the Sony TR610 and the Hitachi 666 both of which started in 1958.  The Royal 50’s offered great sound quality for their size and were built with high quality componets that allowed them to stand up to years of use and produce 80 milliwatts of undistorted sound.  They are powered by 2 AA batteries and measure 4.25″ tall, 2.5″ wide, and 1.25″ deep and weight only 8 ounces.

The Royal 50 – Zenith’s First Shirt Pocket sized transistor – Introduced in 1960 This produced tone quality unlike other similar sized shirt pocket radios.  6 transistors.

Charcoal Royal 50


The Royal 50H – Introduced in 1961 and followed by a very similar looking Royal 50K in 1962. These were just like the first Royal 50 except for the added metal trim which added to their handsome appearance.  6 transistors.



The Royal 50L – Introduced in 1962 featured a recessed and protected tuning dial so the stations would not change when placed in your pocket.  6 transistors.

Because of their styling and performance, Royal 50’s remain a popular choice of collectors today.  However, with the increasing competition from overseas and the constant introduction of new pocket-sized radios, this series had a much shorter production run than it’s big brother the Royal 500.

The Royal 59 – The family continued into 1965 with the introduction of the Royal 59. A similar sized set, this one had 8 transistors and packed a punch. It’s beautiful grill and smart circular dial make it quite attractive as well.

Royal 59C



During the early 1960’s, Zenith continued to produce some other styles of shirt pocket sized transistors that were manufactured in the USA up until 1965.

The Royal 40 – Introduced in 1963.  6 transistors.

Group of Royal 40's


The Royal 60 – Introduced in 1963.  6 transistors.

Group of Royal 60's

The Royal 20 – 1966  This Micro-sized radio was introduced in 1965 to compete with the Standard Micronic Ruby.  The first ones were made in Chicago but later they were shifted to production in Hong Kong.  8 transistors.


The Royal 25-1 This was Zenith’s first shirt pocket with FM. Introduced in 1965  Hong Kong and 8 transistors.



The Royal 130 – 1965 8 transistor with slide-rule tuning.  8 transistors.

Pair of turquoise and brown Royal 130's


The Royal 185 – 1965 8 transistor with slide-rule tuning.  8 Transistors

Group of Royal 185's



The Royal 90 – Introduced in 1963, this scarce model was offered in orange.  6 transistors.



The Royal 125 – 1962 The only shirt pocket with gear-reduced Vernier tuning. 6 transistors.



Check out these other Shirt Pocket sized Zeniths radios.

Royal 50
Royal 50 H & K
Royal 55C Converta
Royal 50L
Royal 59-G and 59-1G

5 thoughts on “The Zenith Royal 50 Family and Other Early Shirt Pockets”

  1. i have the royal 50 red and white radio in pretty good
    shape ,when i put batteries in it i hear it go on but that’s all
    is it worth anything? how much?

  2. Fantastic website!
    A while back, I picked up a Zenith royal R26Y #1223177 at a yard sale. It is MIB and am curious as to its age. I have looked but haven’t been able to find the model year. I would appreciate any info on it.

  3. Hello,
    I am looking to buy a Zenith Royal 185 black face and white backing, in the gift set version if possible, with the tan/brown case. Thank you.
    Sincerely, Thomas Wolfe
    P.O. Box 467
    Lancaster, N.H.

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for your inquiry. I currently do not have any 185 Royals in stock. Sorry but I will keep looking for you. Gary

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