The Royal Sewing Machine of the Past (Company, Value, Models) Update 05/2022

The problem with history is that historical company names can be so similar that they are frequently grouped together, even if they are not the same. This is the problem with Royal and Old Royal. Even if Old Royal may have existed at one point, we found nothing.
It’s possible that the ancient royal sewing machine firm was founded by Thomas Shakespear and George Illston in Small Heath, Birmingham, in 1868. This business did not last long, and it closed its doors before 1890. Its logo was a bust of William Shakespeare.
Continue reading our post to learn more about the ancient Royal or Royal sewing machine manufacturer. It contains information about these businesses that can be found. If it exists and can be read easily.

Who Made Royal Sewing Machines?

Who-Made-Royal-Sewing-Machines
The Royal or Old Royal sewing machine firm was founded as a standalone entity, independent of any other business or corporation. It was founded in 1868 in England and only lasted for around 20 years.
The owners were possibly unrelated Thomas Shakespear and George Illston, who intended to build a name for themselves in the sewing machine industry. They purchased the Imperial Sewing Machine Company in 1873, which was founded by two men named John Judson and Joseph Harris.
The Royal Sewing Machine Company was formed as a limited company in 1877. As a result, it was renamed the Royal Sewing Machine Ltd. Company. After another 5 years, the company renamed itself Royal Machine Manufacturing Co.
Unfortunately, the company’s new titles and classifications did not aid in its survival. The Royal Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co. went out of business just 6 years after the last change.
There’s no news on whether they were bought out, merged, or simply closed their doors. The business’s one claim to fame was that they purchased the rights to manufacture the Agenoria sewing machine, which had been introduced by another company before the Royal.

Royal Sewing Machine Company

At this point, we must distinguish between the Old Royal sewing machine firm in England, which went out of business 12 years before the turn of the century, and the Royal Sewing Machine Company, which was founded in Rockford, Illinois, in 1883. Prior to that change, the company was known as St. Johns Sewing Machine Company, and there appears to be no connection between the two companies.
The Illinois Sewing Machine Firm, better known as the free Sewing Machine Company of the early 1900s, took up this company name after only 12 years.
The Old Royal sewing machine firm produced a variety of types, some of which may or may not have been shipped to the United States. Because the name would have clashed with a current business in the same industry in the United States.
The distinction between the two is that the English edition uses a bust of William Shakespeare, but the American version uses a different logo and trademark.
The Monarch sewing machine was created by the English Royal firm, and it is possible that it was confused with other companies that adopted the Monarch name for their sewing machine models.

Royal Sewing Machine Made in Japan

Royal-Sewing-Machine-Made-in-Japan
Although there appear to be some Royal sewing machines created in Japan, it is highly unlikely that they were produced in collaboration with the Old Royal Sewing Machine Company. Long before there were substantial industrial and manufacturing linkages between western and Asian countries, the English version went out of business.
One produced in Japan was for sale on the online auction site, but it appears to have been sold. The machine was produced in occupied Japan in the 1950s or possibly the late 1940s and came in its own wooden cabinet.
Other Royal sewing machines may have been manufactured in Japan, but not until after WWII. The short-lived American Royal Sewing Machine Company was acquired by Free, which, in turn, was unable to cope with the invasion of Japanese sewing machines and was acquired by a Japanese company.
That last owner may have continued to sell Royal sewing machines, but there should be no connection to the English company of the same name.

The Antique Royal Sewing Machine Models

Antiques are typically defined as artifacts manufactured 100 years or more ago. Antique sewing machines are ones manufactured earlier to 1900. The second definition would apply to both the English and American Royal sewing machine firms.
The Royal Milton, The Avon, The Times, The Monarch, The Regent, The Shakespear, The Challenge, The Agenoria, The Windsor, The Eureka, The Eugenie, The Royal, The South Kensington, and the J W Sleath were among the English company’s models.
It appears that any of the versions that are still in use today can be sold for a good price. There is no information on how many were made or how many remain today. They have become more valuable as they have become rarer.
The American firm released three models with the name New Royal as their model names: the Model A, Model K, and Model SB. There could be more models made by that American company, as the name was used for nearly 12 years before being changed to Illinois Sewing Machine Company.

New Royal Sewing Machine Serial Numbers

New-Royal-Sewing-Machine-Serial-Numbers
While these serial numbers actually exist, locating the correct list can be difficult because both Royal firms went out of business before 1900, and such lists are easily lost. We discovered three serial numbers for the New Royal models stated above, although each machine only has one number.
These are the numbers: #175835, #111950, and #S60193. The Free Sewing Machine Company has been out of business since the early 1950s, thus locating any records may be pointless. Records are misplaced, destroyed, and lost.
The older corporations that have been acquired by other companies, as well as the English Royal company, do not appear to have big serial number listings. There are only a few for antique Royal sewing machines produced before 1888, which could be attributed to the fact that many of those machines did not withstand the test of time.
Because the numbers have been lost, no list can be made.

Finding a Royal Sewing Machine Manual

Finding a pre-1900 Royal sewing machine handbook may require scouring antique shops in both the United States and England. There does not appear to be any posted or for sale anywhere on the internet that we could find.
Our normal go-to manual sources contain several, but they’re for the more current Royal sewing machines, not the ones produced before 1900. Click here to access some manuals, and here to access more.
Please feel free to contact those businesses and request leads. We couldn’t find any for sale on eBay either. If you go to a vintage sewing machine store that sells or repairs older machines, see if they have any. Additionally, you can have luck going to auctions and seeing what is being sold.

How Much is a Royal Sewing Machine?

How-Much-is-a-Royal-Sewing-Machine
When the Agenoria was first released, it cost around 4 BP and 4 pence, but when the silver version was released, it cost 6 BP and 6 pence. At the time, these prices were the equal of two months’ earnings.
Because there is no defined price for any model, new or old Royals, their price today is highly dependent on the mood of the seller and buyer. The price you’ll get for yours will be determined on its rarity and condition.
One model went for 555 BP, while another went for 1000 BP. These devices were quite heavy and were made of cast iron. They were also in excellent condition. Expect to earn very little for any more recent Royals made in Japan.
On eBay, a brand new Royal machine with cabinet was selling for under $100. To give you an idea of the price disparity, two Old Royal Shakespear machines were selling for over $500 on eBay.

New Royal Sewing Machine Cabinet

Because they were fashioned of solid wood, several of them have survived. The one listed above appeared to be in good condition, with little wear and tear and a solid hold on its sewing machine.
The one for sale at this company also appears to be in excellent condition and capable of providing another 100 years of service. There are other websites where you may find these cabinets for a reasonable price. One is priced at $175 and is almost a century old.
The problem is that if you want one of those cabinets, you’ll have to look hard because no single business sells numerous cabinets. Individual cabinets are frequently used because they may not have withstood the test of time.
If you’re patient, you might be able to discover one that you can restore and resale for a profit. These days, good sewing machine cabinets are hard to come by. Modern standards differ from those of the nineteenth century.

How to Thread a Royal Sewing Machine

How-to-Thread-a-Royal-Sewing-Machine
The first step is to lift the presser foot to its highest position and pin the spool of thread. These instructions are from the model 2608 A & B sewing machine.
After that, feed the thread end through the top thread guides and down to and between the tension disks on the machine’s side. Take the thread through the thread region and up to the take-up lever, passing it through the open mouth of that lever.
Put the thread through the bottom thread guide and then back to front when passing the thread through the needle’s eye, and you’re done. If these instructions aren’t clear enough, refer to the owner’s manual we linked to before.
However, you should be aware that the instructions are written in both English and German, with the latter being the main language.

Finding Royal Sewing Machine Parts

For models manufactured before 1900, this could be a bit of a treasure hunt. You might be able to find someone skilled enough to fabricate a new part that will work for you because they are metal parts. It’s a hunch, but it’s worked previously.
The machine parts offered on this company’s website, on the other hand, are for sewing machines from the mid-twentieth century. There were none available for ancient Royal models. If you require vintage parts, you may have to comb many antique and used shops in order to get one suitable for your needs.
You can also look for vintage parts on eBay, but nothing for Royal was available there when we looked.
This company specializes in vintage components, so they may have or know where to find what you’re looking for.

Some Final Words

Both the American and English branches of the Royal Sewing Machine Company produced some decent sewing machines. If you wish to connect to the past, finding some and bringing them home can be worthwhile.
They’re a good collector’s item and parts machine at worst. You are, at best, the owner of a piece of history.

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