Your Sturmey Archer hub can offer a good way to decide on the age of your bicycle. You can find the hub date displayed clearly on many hubs. Early hubs are more difficult to date accurately.
I have compiled the information below from hubs that I have actually seen either in person or from a clear picture. If you have a hub which contradicts any information on this page I would like to hear from you.
Hubs after World War 2
From 1947 to 2000 Sturmey Archer clearly marked their hubs with a date. This hub date marking will show the last two figures of the year and the month.
From 1932 to 1939 Sturmey Archer used the model designation with just the last digit of the year.
1930 and 1931 there were no markings. I have seen hubs with the letter A which I believe are 1930 but as yet I have not been able to confirm this.
Assigning a Hub Date To Earlier Hubs
Before 1930 Sturmey Archer gave each hub an individual serial number. I have been researching these numbers for some time. I am now able to share some results of my research here.
Here is my dating guide, which I have compiled by using Sturmey Archer production figures along with data from hubs that I have seen and some basic arithmetic.
This is only a rough guide. Please allow for error of one year in each direction as I am still researching this.
Estimated Dating Guide
1921 0-25000 (lowest number I’ve seen is K11857)
1928 670000-840000 (highest number I’ve seen is K816966)
1929 840000-end of run then undated until 1932 (or perhaps 1929 was also undated as I’ve not seen a hub with a number this high)
Note About Undated Hubs
There were no date marks, or numbers that could be used to date hubs, in 1930-1931. We can safely assign undated K hubs to this short period.
It is tempting to assign other undated hubs to the second world war, but we would often be mistaken. Many of the undated A series and F series hubs that I seen are clearly from the period 1951-1965. Why they are undated remains a mystery.