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Pix of my vacuum tube radios

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by oregano, Jan 14, 2021.

  1. oregano

    oregano is plotting his escape

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    Thanks to @Sherlock77 and his classic car thread for the inspiration.

    I am constantly scouring Craigslist for my special interest: unrestored, pre-World War 2 Streamline Moderne style plastic cabinet tube radios. Since 2015 I have only bought THREE off CL. (The last one was found at a small vintage radio flea market.) Plastic radios were looked down upon during the prewar era since radios were considered furniture and a plastic radio was seen as tacky and cheap. Something for your kid to listen to radio serials (the ancestors of today's TV series shows) in his or her bedroom.

    em1.JPG
    1939 Emerson DB301. The dial cover was plastic and had yellowed to a point where it was simply cut out with a knife. The original owner was apparently fond of long nails, judging from the gouges around the handle. Some prewar radios came with carrying handles as a marketing gimmick. Some companies advertised the concept of "a radio in every room" as not only a way to sell radios but to create the image of a wealthy country that was so rich that the middle class could afford a lot of radios. Inevitably, not many people could afford a radio in every room, so the manufacturers simply put handles on top, so the radio could be lugged from room to room.

    ge1.JPG

    1942 General Electric L-522. Note that the cabinet, handle, and knobs are all different types of plastic. After Pearl Harbor the government ordered an immediate cessation of ALL civilian manufacturing in order to transition to making war fighting equipment. Somehow, the major radio makers managed to talk FDR into allowing limited manufacturing using already assembled or partially assembled radios. Radios intended for cars were shoved into cheap wood cabinets. Also, radios were assembled using whatever parts were left over. That's how you get a brown radio with white knobs and an orange handle. The design of this one is more suited to the big floor radios of the era; it is unique on a plastic table radio.

    pb1.jpg

    1946 Packard-Bell 5FP. Based on a prewar design. (Sorry for the poor quality of this very old pic.) The dial of this one is actually PAPERBOARD with the numbers silkscreened on! Plastic (what Packard-Bell normally used) was still in short supply, so they improvised.

    510b-front.JPG
    1942 (IIRC) Radiola 510B, made by RCA Victor. I got this at a radio flea market in Turlock, CA.

    And now for the ONLY wood radio:

    in-front.JPG

    1937 Emerson AM131. Purchased because it has the original Emerson logo intact, and because the cabinet was made by Ingraham, a company that made very expensive furniture. Found in a junk pile at an estate sale.
     
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  2. OkRad

    OkRad μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην V.I.P Member

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    Stellar!
     
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  3. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    @oregano

    Looks like a nice collection, I do have couple of older radios around but nothing like that
     
  4. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    They're particularly nice ones. Can you still listen to radio on them?
     
  5. oregano

    oregano is plotting his escape

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    They are currently inoperable and are awaiting restoration. Once fixed up, they will receive the "AM" broadcast band as it's called in the US ("MW" in the rest of the world). There isn't much on AM radio anymore except talk shows, sports, and a smattering of "ethnic" formats. But they will pick up what still exists.
     
  6. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It's still called AM in Australia and they called them 'valve' radios here. AM is same programming as you said. I still use small radios but plug in/battery. Getting good sound in small radios is the hard bit.