Zenith Royal Color Codes

Ever wonder what the model number of your Zenith really means?  According to the original factory service manuals, there was a coding system they used.  Say your radio is a R500WH model.  Here is how it works. 

R = Zenith Royal

500 = Family

W = Color (white)

H = Model

Here are the color codes Zenith used with their transistors:

B=blue

C=Charcoal

F=turquoise or two tone green,

G = grey

J=two tone brown

L=tan or beige

P=yellow

R=maroon

V=red 

W=white

Y=black or ebony 

The model number codes were printed on stickers and put on the stock boxes for identification like this Black Royal 500 model H.

sticker on box

They also sometimes put a sticker on the outside of the radio on the bottom like this Beige Royal 475.

sticker on outside 

With many models, they put the sticker inside on the back half like this yellow Royal 50 Model L. 

 sticker inside

But there are also models that I have never seen a sticker on like Royal 60, 90, 100, 125, 150, 200, 300 & ealry 500s. 

The stickers also have the serial # of that particular radio.  I feel it is a plus to have a radio that still has this sticker in readable condition because many radios are missing it.  

As you can see, Zenith was not real consistant where they put these stickers.  Here is where I have found them:

Inside the back cover:  Royal 20, 40, 50, 50H/K & L, 59, 80, 85, 130, 185

On the outside of the radio on the bottom: 400, 475, 500L, 500N

I believe that all the cartons had a serial # sticker on them and in 1961 Zenith started putting a matching # sticker on the radio, but this is hard to verify because cartons are so hard to find.  I have had Royal 500B cartons with stickers, but no sticker was on the radio.  This leads me to believe that Zenith did not start putting stickers on the radios until 1961. 

Hope this helps you.  Now go look for those stickers!   

12 thoughts on “Zenith Royal Color Codes”

  1. Hi Gary,
    I have been working on all vintage radios for a few years now, and recently began to collect the Zenith Royal 500 family. I have 3 500A, black, maroon and white and a 500D I believe in pink, all “owl eyes” Do you know where I could find a copy of the “Operating Guide” for these radios?
    Thank you

    Ken Rogers
    Brooklyn, NY

    1. Sure Ken, you can view what I have available on my website store under the category of Operating Guides for Sale. However, if you are working on these radios, you might be more interested in the information found in the Zenith Authorized Service Manuals which I also have. Let me know if you are interested in service manuals and I will make photocopies. They run $15 each plus $5 for shipping up to 5 manuals. Another option is to do a search on eBay but the ones for popular Royal models get bought up fast. Hope this helps. Gary

  2. Gary, I want to restore a Royal 500 H and the front plate that holds the grill has some of its color rubbed away. What color paint was used ? I am going to dismantle the front and I want to spray it. It looks like a mustard of some kind.

    Thank You
    Ralph Pensa
    Lindenhurst New York

    1. Hi Ralph, I have not been able to find documentation that describes the paint color of the part. I thought it was a flat gold, but I cannot be sure. Really though, anything would help to improve the looks. You could always get creative and create a truly unique radio. Best of luck, Gary

  3. Hi Gary,

    I was wondering if I could send you a check in the mail. If you send me your address and Postage and handling amount for each item.
    There are a few items I would like to purchase.

    Regards,
    Ron

    1. Hi Ron and thanks for your interest in my radio site. The website has an e-commerce system which allows you to add radios to your shopping cart and then checkout. Upon completion, it will calculate your total price for the radios plus shipping, but if you order more than 1 radio, I will recalculate the shipping and invoice you with the new (lower) total. You can then pay the invoice by sending me a check.

      If you would rather not bother with that process, just send me an email indicating which radios you are interested in and I can figure the total including postage then I will do the checkout for you.
      Thanks again,
      Gary
      313.310.4660

  4. HI- I am hoping you can help me identify a Zenith transistor radio I recently got. It is white with a grille looking front and the logo in silver on the lower left. It has a loop on top so it could be carried, and an antenna on top left that telescopes up and down. It swivels on a base that is woodgrain finish on the left side, and silver on the top and base. When it swivels “open”, the face is black with silver controls and lettering. It is am/fm/afc, and says “ten transistor” down the middle. the other side is white and at the base, it says Zenith Japan.
    Thanks for any help you can give me.

    1. That would be the Zenith model E26Y made in the early 70’s in Japan for Zenith. After 1966 Zenith stopped production in the US and shifted to cheaper labor in Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea. Still good playing radios, but the quality of the components and cabinets was nothing like the first transistors they made in the mid 50’s and early 60’s. That is because the market would only support products selling for $15-20 in the 60’s and 70’s with all of the off-shore competition. Hope that helps. Gary

  5. Hi Gary,
    I recently found my Zenette from my teen days, and though it’s not in the best condition exteriorly, the interior looks fine–ie. the batteries were not stored in it. I’m hoping that the batteries that you sell will fit it , as I’m finding that standard modern AA batteries seem just a bit too long for the battery chamber. I planned to order 2 sets of your batteries but was dismayed that the website added the same amount of postage for each set. Would appreciate a discount on the postage. Thanks, Dee

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