Radio Boulevard
Western Historic Radio Museum

 

WHRM Radio Photo Gallery
 

Floor Model Radios and Radio-Phonographs

1929 to 1939


 

photo right: This well-dressed couple is enjoying great sound from their McMurdo Silver receiver

Console (Floor) Model Radios  (1929-1939)

Victor Talking Machine Co.

"Nine Fifty-Four"

Although the name is Victor Talking Machine Co., actually the old "Victrola" company had been sold to a bank syndicate in 1926 due to Victor's CEO Eldridge Johnson's failing health. In early-1929, the VTMCo  was purchased for $32 million by GE, Westinghouse and RCA and the plant in Camden, NJ modernized. Priced at $1350, the "Nine Fifty-Four" Automatic Electrola-Radiola was one of the more expensive machines available in 1929. The cabinet was a fabulous 60" tall Spanish influenced walnut cabinet. Unfortunately, the 9-54 was fraught with problems. The deluxe receiver, the Radiola 64, was an eleven tube superheterodyne with tuning meter, AVC and impressive audio from a single-ended UX-250. To obtain maximum power from the UX-250 its plate was running at nearly +400 vdc. After a few years operation the power transformer's insulation failed - usually in a dramatic, smoke filled fashion. The automatic record changer was a second generation version of the original Victor automatic changer but the new changer was released before all of the bugs could be worked out. All of the second generation changers were recalled within a few months and reworked but even then the changers were unreliable and developed a reputation for breaking records - either by a failed ejection allowing the lifter ring to crush the record or by tossing the record onto the floor. Many 9-54s had their original radio and phonograph replaced with newer equipment, also some were "gutted" and converted into liquor bars or book cases. As a result, very few 9-54s survive intact today. This particular 9-54 is a complete, original example that was owned by 1920s-1930s cowboy movie-star, Hoot Gibson. Interestingly, another famous cowboy movie star also was a 9-54 owner, William S. Hart had one at his ranch in Newhall, California.

 

Victor Talking Machine Co.

(Radio-Victor Corp. of America)

Radio-Electrola RE-156

 

RCA,GE and Westinghouse were in a partnership running Victor since early-1929. Actually two companies were formed to run Victor, (AudioVision Appliance and Radio-Victor.) In late 1929, RCA-Victor was formed to consolidate everything into one company. In 1930, an Anti-trust suit was filed against the group which broke-up the longtime partnership (cross-licensing arrangement) and essentially put RCA in sole ownership of RCA-Victor. Due to the Depression, expensive machines were no longer a saleable item, so RCA-Victor utilized left-over cabinets from the previous year's most expensive model, the 9-56 Automatic Electrola-Radiola, ($1750 selling price in 1929) and replaced the 9-56's problem prone Radiola 64 and notorious automatic changer with the reliable ten-tube Microsynchronous TRF receiver and a simple manual turntable. Standing 65" tall, the Chinese Chippendale cabinet is decorated with oriental motifs in red, black and gold lacquer. Walnut veneer panels with black, gold and green lacquer trim are used on the exterior. With the doors closed, ten filigree bronze hinges and the filigree bronze door-pull escutcheons are visible. Selling for a mere $595, only 245 of these behemoths were produced.

 

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RCA Victor Co., Inc.

Radiola-Electrola RE-57

 

For 1931, RCA-Victor continued to offer the old Microsynchronous receiver in some of their Radiola-Electrola models. These later TRF radios have screen-grid tubes and an improved amplifier but still feature the odd tuning system of levers and rollers. The manual phonograph featured a large counter-balanced tone arm with horseshoe magnet pick-up. These types of pick-ups could also be "driven" to actually move the needle and RCA took advantage of that by designing a system of home recording that used "pre-grooved" records. The material that the records were made from was soft and it was possible to somewhat modulate the grooves using the pick-up with proper recording needle and a fairly heavy weight placed on the pick-up. The discs were only six inches in diameter so recording time was brief. One could select to record something from the radio or one could record using the hand-held microphone. Actually, for 78RPM record playback, the RE-57 and similar Electrolas provide great performance with ample sound and plenty of bass, as long as the pick-up has been rebuilt and the rest of the electronics are in good condition.

 

 

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RCA-Victor Co., Inc.

Radiola-Automatic Electrola,  RAE-59

 

RCA-Victor incorporated several new features into their deluxe radio-phonograph, for 1932 (introduced in late 1931.) Though the Microsynchronous receiver was still used in the lower-cost models, the RAE-59 had a newly designed ten-tube superheterodyne with Push-Pull 47s for greater audio power. The phonograph had a two-speed automatic changer that would continuously cycle through a stack of ten, 10" records loaded into the "magazine." The design of the changer allowed only a single side of each record to be played during the cycle which allowed about 35 minutes of music with 78RPM records and two and a half hours of music with RCA's new Program Transcription Long-Playing records. The new PTs were 10" in diameter and ran at 33.3RPM, featuring both popular and classical music. The changer would continue to play through the ten records as long as the user didn't interupt the cycle, however 78RPM records and PTs could not be intermixed on the automatic cycle. Additionally, one could make recordings off of the radio or using the "studio quality" double button microphone onto RCA Pre-grooved recording discs, (introduced in 1930.) The recording time was increased as the new pre-grooved discs were ten inches in diameter. The RAE-59 sold for a hefty $350.00 at a time when many manufacturers had trouble finding buyers for $50.00 radios.

 

Program Transcription by RCA Victor

 

RCA introduced these 33.3RPM long-playing records in late 1931. Produced through most of 1933, they were considered an engineering failure because the heavy pick-ups, used on all players at the time, caused severe wear to the fairly soft material used for PTs, (RCA called it "Victrolac.") Additionally, surface noise and frequency "wow" were problems in the early PTs. Introduced at the all-time low of record sales (due to the Depression) and with the increased price of PTs, combined with the fact that not many machines  could play them (only expensive deluxe models,) PTs were almost assured of low customer interest and slow sales. Most PTs were 10" in diameter though a few 12" PTs were produced. A few PTs were single-sided. The labels were either gold or silver in color. Even though the PTs were a flop, some were still shown as available in the 1939 RCA catalog (old stock?)

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Crosley Radio Corp.

Model 609 - "Gemchest"

 

Crosley introduced the "Gemchest" in 1929, using their "Gembox" chassis installed into a small, Chinese Chippendale styled, metal console cabinet. The "Gemchest" was available in three colors, Mandarin Red, Nanking Green and Manchu Black. All featured an improved Crosley Dynacone speaker mounted behind an oriental styled grille with reeds and an unidentifiable water-fowl. Selling for $94 in 1929, the 609 was expensive for a Crosley and was fairly popular. All of Crosley's advertising artwork showed the "Gemchest" without a grille cloth installed, however most are encountered nowadays with a grille cloth installed (to hide damage to the Dynacone speaker cone.)

 

General Motors

Model 281 "Ashtray"/ Converter

This 1931 device has probably caused more confusion as to its real purpose than any other radio item. Most importantly, the 281 is not a radio receiver - it is a converter. A converter receives an incoming radio signal at that signal's frequency and then converts that frequency to another frequency by heterodyning the signal with a local oscillator. This intermediate frequency can then be connected to the antenna input of a radio receiver and amplified and detected, resulting in better selectivity, stability and sensitivity. The GM 281 is a heterodyning-type converter which was designed to be connected to any receiver to provide several different functions. First, as a converter, when used with a TRF (Tuned Radio Frequency - a non-superheterodyne) receiver, that receiver would then become a superheterodyne - providing the advantages of better sensitivity and selectivity. If used with a superhet receiver, that radio would then become a double-conversion superhet - advantages were better image rejection. An added advantage to the 281 installation was that it allowed for remote control of any receiver it was used with, providing remote tuning and remote volume control. Finally, it was also a floor-type ash stand. The IF frequency was 535Kc - so the receiver used with the 281 had to be tuned to 535Kc in order for the combination to work together. The 281 AC plug was to provide the 6.3vac heater voltage for the two tubes in the converter but B+ (high voltage) had to be supplied by the receiver (connecting wires were from the metal "coupler unit" which was mounted in the receiver cabinet.) A 25' cable allowed the 281 to be placed anywhere in the room, preferably next to the "over-stuffed" easy chair and the pipe. Today, many GM 281 converters are encountered with the cables removed and the seller trying to convince the buyer that the 281 is a radio receiver - it isn't. Neither was it ever intended to be set up in GM automobile dealerships for customer entertainment. The erroneous auto-related story variations are endless. The 281 was designed for home use and was to provide the user a way to upgrade his older TRF console radio into a remotely controlled superheterodyne radio. 

 

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Crosley Radio Corp.

Model 53 - "Mate"

 

Crosley introduced an entire line of "Repwood" radios in 1931. All were given "nicknames" to go along with their official model number. Table models, like the "Buddy Boy" were popular, however console models are seldom seen. Shown is the Model 53, or the "Mate," a miniature console that is only 30" tall. The chassis was a small five tube TRF using three 24-A tubes, a single 45 output tube and an 80 rectifier. The Crosley Dynacone speaker was allowed to hang on a hook behind the grille. The "Mate" sold for $79.50 in 1931. "Repwood" was Crosley's trade name for the wood and binder combination that was compressed and molded into trim pieces, panels and cabinets.

 

Scott Radio Laboratories

All-wave Fifteen - AW-15

 

The Scott Radio Laboratories built some of the most "powerful" (an adjective E.H. Scott liked to use in his advertising) receivers from the late twenties up through the forties. Ernest H. Scott came from New Zealand and started in the transformer business in Chicago just after WWI. He later started producing superheterodyne kit radios. His interest in shortwave developed into world record reception using his receivers. When the RCA superhet licenses became available in 1931, Scott started to produce complete receivers. By 1933, Scott was offering his first chrome plated, semi-custom built receivers. The Allwave Fifteen (1934) is a 15 tube receiver using P-P 2A3s driving a twelve inch speaker. The power supply and audio output amplifier are located on a smaller chassis mounted by the speaker. Chrome plated chassis, projection tuning dial with shadow-graph meter, BFO (not for CW but for locating weak stations - the actuator is the push button located below the band switch lever) and a noise limiter (marked STATIC) are some of the modern features used in this 1934 receiver.  This AW-15 is housed in a small Tasman cabinet and is totally original, including all the original 1934 tubes!

I've owned this Scott since 1975. I purchased it from an antique shop in San Francisco called "Maritime Antiques." The shop was full of nautical items, diving helmets, brass clocks, that sort of thing. I noticed in the very back of the shop there was a console radio setting up against the wall. Getting closer, I saw it was a SCOTT. Lifting the lid revealed flawless chrome. About that time the shop owner came over and yelled, "I hate radios! They never work. I only have this one because it came with an estate. You can have it for fifty dollars." Even in 1975, that was an excellent price for a SCOTT radio but I didn't buy it. Instead, we walked out and went back to the in-laws house in the East Bay. That was a sleepless night, thinking about why was I so stupid to just let such a good deal pass. 9AM the next morning we were back at Maritime Antiques. "Are you going to buy that radio today?" The shop owner obviously recognized me. The price was still fifty dollars which was gladly paid, the radio loaded and we left before the shop owner changed his low opinion about old radios. Back in Nevada, I discovered that the short antenna wire was connected to the ground post - no wonder the shop owner thought the SCOTT didn't work. When connected up to an antenna, it worked beautifully.

Now, thirty five (plus) years later, the SCOTT AW-15 isn't operated very often. I'm content to just look at its amazing condition. Still flawless after eighteen years on display in the Western Historic Radio Museum (located behind glass, of course.)

 

 

Philco

Model 680

 

This massive, 15 tube receiver was top-of-the-line from Philco in 1936.  Art deco and architectural styles influenced the cabinet design and the chassis featured everything Philco had to offer for the best in radio reception and high fidelity audio reproduction. The output is 20 watts of undistorted, class "A" push-pull audio, supplied by a pair of 6A3s driving a massive 11" electrodynamic speaker along with an 11" passive radiator and two  8" passive radiators, (Philco called them Acoustic Clarifiers.) A separate bias rectifier tube is used for the audio stages. Additionally, there is a separate bass amplifier circuit with adjustable bass control and variable-coupled IF transformers with an expansion switch for maximum bandwidth and audio highs. The shadowgraph tuning meter has its own tuned stage with rectifier and is separate from the AVC line. Also included is dual amplified AVC, dual speed tuning from 150kc to 22mc in four bands with Philco's superb dial accuracy and excellent sensitivity. Philco went all-out on the 680, producing a great performing receiver with absolutely magnificent sound that rivals any Scott. The 680 shown is the early version with the receiver chassis mounted vertically in the cabinet and a lid that covers the controls. Many collectors consider Philco a "cheap" brand and not worthy of their note. However, Philco was number one in sales all through the thirties because they made hundreds-of thousands of "cheap" radios that would sell during the tough economic times of the Depression. A "cheap" Philco is like any other brand of "cheap" radio - mediocre in performance and lacking in features. Unfortunately, the mass quantity of "cheap" Philcos that have survived have given collectors the wrong impression of Philco's capabilities. High-end Philcos will feature everything (and sometimes more) that any other high priced radio of the time had. Superb engineering, high fidelity, innovative designs are all found in the high end Philcos. Well,...that is until about 1940.

 

McMurdo Silver Corporation  -   Masterpiece VI

McMurdo Silver was a prolific author, flamboyant genius and possibly the first antique radio collector. He used to offer $30 off on his Masterpiece Receivers if the purchaser would trade-in a "genuine antique." His efforts benefited the Ford Museum, a "hobby" of his, as he stated in many letters. The Masterpiece VI dates from 1937 and featured 21 tubes, five bands, double-preselection, volume expander, selectable bandwidth, cathode-ray tuning indicator and terrific deco styling, (the chrome dust cover was removed for the photo.) This Masterpiece VI was originally owned by Rheingold Redelius, a prominent Reno, Nevada businessman. Unfortunately, the set had been stored in a basement that flooded in the infamous 1950 Reno Flood. Redelius managed to save the receiver but he discarded the severely damaged Clifton cabinet with 18" speaker and amplifier-power supply.

McMurdo Silver tried to "run" three companies simultaneously in the early-thirties. The Silver-Marshall Company was one, McMurdo Silver Manufacturing was another and then there was McMurdo Silver Corporation. There were stories circulating in the thirties that McMurdo would drive around to his various companies piloting a yellow Packard convertible with several of his girl friends "in-tow." Eventually McMurdo sold the Silver-Marshall Company was sold to Bill Halligan to from the Hallicrafters, Inc. McMurdo Silver Manufacturing was consolidated into the McMurdo Silver Corporation which remained building custom radios until 1938, when that company went bankrupt.

 

McMurdo Silver Corporation

"15-17"

 

McMurdo Silver's last offering in the "custom-built" radio market was the "15-17." Obviously scaled back to reduce costs and hopefully increase sales. Although the external appearance is similar to the Masterpieces, inside the "15-17" is really just a large "tube-count" (15 tubes) console radio. The chassis is chrome plated and the radio does cover AM-BC up to 30mc. It also has a BFO and "slow-motion" tuning. A 15" speaker is mounted in the Oxford cabinet.

McMurdo Silver wanted you to know that "he knew" your radio was custom-built to your order. That's why every radio left the factory with a hand-engraved metal tag mounted to the rear of the chassis with your name engraved on it. This particular "15-17" was built for "Daggett Radio" - possibly John Daggett, who had a radio column in a Southern California newspaper in the thirties.

McMurdo had a long-running feud with E.H.Scott. The conflict began when Silver bought an AW-23, disassembled it and then published what he thought was wrong with Scott's receiver. Scott did the same thing to a Masterpiece and the feud began. At one point Scott sued McMurdo Silver for $100,000 in damages. Each used their respective newsletters to "bash" each other.

The "15-17" performance and sound quality are excellent if compared to other 1938 radios such as a Philco or a Zenith but the "15-17" is certainly a major step-down from the Masterpieces. McMurdo obviously knew the company was on its last gasp and he closed up the company after the "15-17" run. Ironically, in 1938, E.H. Scott (Scott Radio Laboratories) bought the bankrupt McMurdo Silver Co. rather than allow it to be acquired by another company that would "ruin Silver's reputation for quality." More likely is that Scott didn't want anyone else competing with him in the "custom-radio" market.

After WWII, McMurdo Silver went on to create the "Silver Co." that built small test gear and gadgets in the late-forties. McMurdo, perhaps distraught at his future with the Silver Co. faltering, killed himself - apparently while cleaning a loaded pistol. This was also ironic since McMurdo had worked his way through college buying and selling antique firearms.

 

Philco

Model 39-116

This was "top-of-the-line" for Philco's 1939 production year. Featuring a true, wireless remote control dubbed "Mystery Control", the 39-116 used 14 tubes - eight tubes were used in the radio receiver, five tubes in the remote receiver (part of the radio receiver chassis) and one tube in the remote transmitter (which was battery operated.) Remote station selection actuated a stepper unit switching between eight pre-set tuners. The Volume Control was motor driven and could be operated from the remote and also allowed the radio to be turned on or off remotely. A large loop antenna was mounted in the base of the cabinet for the remote receiver, allowing it to pick up the RF Pulses from the Mystery Control which could be set to any frequency in the range of 250kc to 395kc. The 39-116 had modern styling, great sound and featured enough techno-gadgets to impress your neighbors. The 39-116 was about the last of Philco's innovative creations. By 1940, Philco was offering air conditioners, refrigerators and other appliances besides their radio line. It soon became apparent to purchasers that Philco radios had become just another appliance.

 

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Website Navigation Index

-  WHRM History  ~  Nevada Radio History  ~  The KOWL XMTR  ~  Full Length Articles with Photos -

Home-Index

Western Historic Radio Museum - Information
 
Contact Info, Museum History 1994-2012, Museum Photo Tour, Using Photos and Info from this Website & Radio Value Info

Nevada Radio History - 1906 to 1930
Arthur Raycraft, Nevada's "Father of Wireless," America's First Radio Tour, Early Nevada BC Stations & More

KOWL's Gates BC-250L BC Transmitter
2007 Move from Lake Tahoe - Restoration - PLUS -  2013 Move to Dayton, Nevada & Getting on 160M 

 

- Wireless Apparatus, 1920s Radio and Communications Equipment  ~  Full Length Articles with Photos -

M.H. Dodd's 1912 Wireless Station
100th Anniversary  Edition 
Includes New Photos, Reassembly Info and Lots of Original Vintage 1912 B&W Photos + Reassembly in Dayton

 THE COLIN B. KENNEDY COMPANY
"RADIO APPARATUS OF QUALITY"
Universal, Intermediate Wave and Short Wave Models History, Restoration and Operation - Lots of Photos

A.H. GREBE & CO., INC.
"A Guide to the Synchrophase MU-1"
Comprehensive Manufacturing History, Restoration, Neutralizing, Performance Information - Lots of Photos

 

 SE-1420, IP-501 & IP-501A
"The Classic Shipboard Wireless Receivers"
Comprehensive History, Restoration and Operation Info - Tuning in NDBs with IP-501-A

Vintage Long Wave Receivers
Long Wave Receiver Profiles, Loop Antenna Info, NDB Info and Log,
Fallon NV "Master - M" Loran Station Tour

 

 

- Vintage Communications & Amateur Radio Equipment  ~  Full Length Articles with Photos -

National Co. - HRO Receiver
"The Cream of the Crop" 
Expanded Edition - Comprehensive History, Serial Numbers, Restoration, Lots of Photos & More

 National Co. - NC-100 Series
"Moving Coil"  Receivers 
Comprehensive History, Serial Numbers, Restoration & More - Includes Civilian Versions, Military Versions & Airport Versions

Hallicrafters SX-28
"A Pre-war Masterpiece"

Comprehensive History, Serial Number Analysis, Restoration Details & More

Hallicrafters DD-1 "Skyrider Diversity"
Comprehensive History, Serial Numbers & Restoration Details

RCA's Legendary AR-60 Receiver
Comprehensive History, Serial Number Analysis, Restoration Details & More - including the AR-60 connection to Amelia Earhart's Disappearance.        

RCA's Amazing AR-88 Receivers
Comprehensive History, Restoration Info, How to do IF Sweep Alignments, Serial Numbers & More

 Hammarlund Mfg.Co.,Inc
The Incredible Pre-War 'Super-Pro'
Comprehensive History, Serial Number Analysis, Restoration Details. Includes info on the Hammarlund Comet Pro

Hallicrafters' "Super-Pro" R-274 Receiver
Comparison of the SP-600 to the R-274(SX-73) in detail, best features of each. VOTE for your favorite Super Pro

 

-  Rebuilding Communications Equipment  ~  Full Length Articles with Photos -

Rebuilding and Operating the AN/GRC-19
T-195 XMTR & R-392 RCVR
 Detailed Information with Lots of Photos

Rebuilding the R-390A Receiver
Detailed Restoration Information with Lots of Photos

Rebuilding the ART-13 Transmitter
Detailed Restoration Info with Lots of Photos

Rebuilding the Hammarlund SP-600
Detailed Restoration Information with Lots of Photos

     Rebuilding the Collins 51J Series Receivers
NEW!  
Detailed Restoration Information with Lots of Photos - Includes R-388 Receiver
Successfully Operating the BC-375 on the Ham Bands Today
Detailed Information on Power Set-ups that Work, Dynamic Neutralization, BC-191 Info & More 
Rebuilding the BC-348 Receiver
Detailed Information on all BC-348 Types, Dynamotor Retrofit Information, AC Power Supply Enhancement - Lots of Photos
Building an Authentic 1937 Ham Station
Utah Radio Products - UAT-1 Transmitter

 

- WHRM Radio Photo Galleries with Text -

Entertainment Radios from 1922 to 1950

Roaring 20s Radios
1922 to 1929

Vintage Table Radios
1930 to 1950

Floor Model Radios (Consoles)
1929 to 1939

Only Zenith Radios
1930 to 1940

Communications Equipment from 1909 to 1959 - Commercial, Military & Amateur

 Early Ham & Commercial Wireless Gear
1909 to 1927

Classic Pre-WWII Ham Gear
1928 to 1941

WWII Communications Equipment
 U.S. Navy & U.S. Army Signal Corps  1941 to 1945

Commercial & Military
Communications Gear
1932-1941 & 1946-1959

Post-WWII Ham Gear
1946 to 1959

Vintage Broadcast Equipment, RTTY & Telegraph Keys

Vintage Microphones
 & Vintage Broadcast Gear
1930 to 1950s

Radio Teletype - RTTY - with Real Machines
includes TTY Machines, Military TUs and Amateur TUs

Telegraph Keys - 1900 to 1955
"From Straight Keys to Bugs"
Hand Keys and Semi-Automatic Telegraph Keys

 

 

-  Vintage Radios, Ham Gear, Tubes & Misc. Items For Sale  -

Entertainment Radios For Sale

Ham Radio Gear For Sale

Vacuum Tubes For Sale

Miscellaneous Items For Sale

 

 Radio Boulevard
Western Historic Radio Museum

 Vintage Radio Communication Equipment Rebuilding & Restoration Articles,

 Vintage Radio History and WHRM Radio Photo Galleries

1909 - 1959

 

 

This website created and maintained by: Henry Rogers - Radio Boulevard, Western Historic Radio Museum 1997/2014