Sentinel Catalin Radios (Updated)

Some of the most uniquely styled Catalin radios are those by the Sentinel Radio Corporation.

(All photos can be enlarged with a click or touch.)

My favorite Sentinel design is the 248NR (177U) from 1939.  The first time I saw the dramatic oxblood-red and yellow version was in the late ‘90’s among the radios of a longtime collector, Ron Stoner, in Lincoln Nebraska.  The radio looked striking in the antique bookcase.  Unfortunately, when the radio was removed there was a fairly large chunk of the case missing on a back corner.  That’s common, because of the poor way the chassis connects with the case.  It’s hard to find this Sentinel without similar damage.  It took me more than two decades to finally come up with two really nice examples (that were also priced right).

The design features are mostly asymmetrical.  The grille is raised-up higher than the center of the radio’s front, and also wraps around the side.

The Deco looking groves in the case are to one side, and intersect the dial.  The dial pointer is set to the left, instead of in the middle or on the bottom like most radios.

This all gives the Sentinel 248NR a “classy” appearance.

Sentinel could also do “quirky”.

Above are two 1945 Sentinel model 284 radios.  What a unique design!  It’s the only Catalin radio model to have the chassis mounted upside down.  That allows for having the controls at the top, and leaves the tubes hanging inside.

The case is one of the most rounded Catalin designs, but the real appearance grabber is that “Wavy Grille”.  It gives the radio it’s nickname, and also provides a sense of quirkiness.  There’s really no other radio like it.  The size is about 11″ wide, 7″ high & 6″ Deep.

This version of the Sentinel has a case that’s called “sand”.  It’s a harder-to-find color, and is much more swirled and striking than the regular alabaster version that develops a plainer butterscotch patina.  This sand radio also has the seldom seen red Catalin knobs, like the model shown in John Sideli’s famous book “Classic Plastic Radios”.  If you enlarge the photo, you can see the beauty of the Catalin knobs.  Too bad Sentinel didn’t manufacture a swirled red grille to go with them.

This oxblood-red case with nicely contrasting butterscotch knobs and grille is a popular color combination.

Sentinel produced a version of this radio without the grille…simply a Catalin surround and a large exposed grille cloth:  img_2700It’s still a nice-enough looking radio, but it just seems like there’s something missing.  Sentinel also produced the open version under the name Musicaire.

And finally…

The 1940 Sentinel 195ULTA.  For this one, Sentinel added push-buttons for instant station selection.  This is definitely one of the rarer radios.  Author John Sideli didn’t even have this model pictured in his book of classic plastic radios, although he showed a similar radio under the Lafayette brand.

All in all, Sentinel made some pretty cool Catalin Radios.

Extra:  Came across a couple of old photos of other Sentinels I’ve had.

 The top photo is a nice example of the all butterscotch version.  The bottom Sentinel (yellower because it has less patina) has replacement knobs and a grille that were made by a man who was a great provider of replacement parts, Kris Gimmy.  Sentinel 284’s were never produced with red grilles, but some collectors wanted to dress up the plain butterscotch models.

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