Remler…A San Francisco Treat

The Remler Company of San Francisco started making Bakelite parts in 1918, and evolved into manufacturing early radio receivers.  By 1933, they were producing Bakelite and Plaskon table radios.

I never had the earliest models in my collection, but I pulled a couple photos from my Pinterest favorites.

Remler produced this Model 26 in 1933 as their first Bakelite table radio.  They called it “The Scottie”.

They even had this Deco blue mirror cover that slipped onto the front of a Remler Model 40 in the 1930’s.

The Remler company was started by Elmer Cunningham.  The name of the company is his first name backwards, with an added “r” at the end.  When the company started producing plastic table radios in 1933, Scottish Terriers were popular, including one owned by Eleanor Roosevelt.  Plus, Cunningham is a Scottish surname.  So, they used a Scottie dog as the Remler logo.  That cute touch sets them apart from other radios.

My first Remler was this 1948 “Scottie Pup”.  When it was originally released, customers could get the radio in regular brown Bakelite, which they called “Walnut” for $20 (Model 5505), or for $3 more they could get the above “White” (Model 5510), which was made of smooth ivory Plaskon with a bamboo-colored grille.  (With a click you can see the radios more clearly.  The ivory Plaskon is a good one to click first.)

This Remler design became available in black Bakelite.  I acquired the above radio a few years after the Plaskon one.  They have an unusually styled (billowy) case, a dramatically contrasting grille, and the slide dial is uniquely located at the bottom.  This model also had good sound from the five-tube chassis.

The above radio, Model 6000, (I had years ago) is from 1947.  Remler called it a “Personal Portable” radio.  It had a handle for easy carrying that dropped down when not in use.

Maybe the most unusual Remler is the 1947 Model 5300:

It looks like a fairly normal table radio made of Plaskon and Bakelite, but the top tips back to reveal a turntable.

When you laid the lid all the way back, there was room for playing 78 rpm records.

You can see my 10-inch Vogue 78 rpm picture record is actually larger than the top of the radio.  It was a very compact design to be both a radio and a record player.  The radio/phonograph is also quite heavy for its size.  I really liked having these Remlers as part of my collection.

Unfortunately, Remler ceased making radios in the early 1950’s, even though they continued making electronic components until 1988.

We’re just lucky Remler gave us twenty years of well-designed high-quality plastic table radios that collectors will enjoy for many decades to come.

Setchell Carlson “Jet”

It’s one of the most dramatically designed radios ever!

Maybe there were two designers, or maybe a designer and an audio engineer.  The designer said… “I’m designing a sleek, modern radio”.  And the audio engineer said… “Yeah, but it’s gotta have a big-ass speaker!”.  That would explain the difference between the right and left sides of this radio.

The Setchell Carlson model 58A-375 “Jet” was originally manufactured in 1949.  Unlike most wooden radios, the case is not made of solid wood.  Instead, it’s made of thin wood that could be bent into the desired shape.

When I first got this radio, it was just a case.  In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, there was an annual “Radio Auction” in Marshalltown, Iowa.  It was a great place to find all kinds of radios.  One year, I found a brand-new old-stock Setchell Carlson Jet case.  It was still in it’s original box with factory cardboard cutouts that suspended the case for shipping.  The Jet cases are very fragile, so I figured this was a replacement case from a radio dealership.  After all, the Setchell Carlson Company had been located right next door in Minnesota.

I was surprised and happy to get the case (with a perfect grille cloth installed) for just $100.  Eventually, I spotted a broken Jet on eBay.  Here’s the actual listing photo:

Pretty scary, right?  I won the bid for $200, and luckily the chassis and faceplate were in good shape.  With the help of radio collector/technician Jon Walker, the chassis was put into working condition, and an original knob was found.  I then installed the chassis into the case, and finally it was a complete radio.

The Jet is a pretty large radio.  You can see how it compares in size with other radios as they were displayed in Lincoln, NE, and then Eugene, OR.

(Photos can be enlarged with a click or touch.)

Setchell Carlson also made the case in blonde wood to go with some Mid-Century furniture.  I found a photo of a blonde Jet online:

As production of the Jet moved into the 1950’s, an AM-FM model became available.

Like I said, I believe many of the radios at the auction were from a Setchell Carlson dealer, because there were a lot of their radios that year.  I also bought this 1946 “Frog Eyes” model 427:

If you’re familiar with “Frog Eyes”, you’ll know this is larger than the similarly styled 416 models that were also introduced in 1946.  It has a beautifully designed sweeping sculpture on the top that leads to the knobs.  The chassis is mounted upside down, which allows those controls to be at the top of the radio.  The case is made of colored Plaskon, and is not painted.  If you ever see a painted Setchell Carlson, it’s not original.  I believe this radio was also new old stock, because there were absolutely no signs of use or wear.  It looked and played like new, and the original warranty tag was still inside.

Another purchase I made that day was a new ivory Plaskon 416 case, still in the original box.  I already had a chassis for this one.

And finally, here’s a page from the digital book at the beginning of this site.  It provides a comparison of colorful “Frog Eyes”:

(Click or touch for a better look.)

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.

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

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

Sorry about the low quality photos.  I think my first digital camera was a 1 megapixel model.  Plus, the last photo had to be pulled in.  The top photo is a nice example of the all butterscotch version.  The bottom Sentinel 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.

Sparton Bluebird

Finally broke down and bought a real Sparton Bluebird radio.  I’ve loved the look of the Bluebird (by famed industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague) from the first time I saw it.

(My “new” 1936 Sparton Bluebird model 566.)

The design of the Sparton Bluebird is extremely Deco, with blue mirror & chrome.  It was so original that no other radio looked anything like it.  Descriptions of the radio mention the “Streamline” design of the deco era represented by the three lines of chrome that span the front.

(Professional photo of my radio as seen on the Decophobia website.)

Great art (these radios are displayed in museums) lends itself to personal interpretation.  Why was the name Bluebird chosen, as opposed to anything else that was blue?  A real Bluebird flies, and one could certainly look at this “bird” as a tri-wing airplane in a blue sky.  The three chrome lines get smaller as they go down, just like the three wings of the airplane.  The inner ring would be the fuselage, and the outer ring could represent the larger circle made by a moving propeller.  The black ball stands are the plane’s tires.

At least that’s one interpretation of the design.  It may not be what Teague had in mind, but once you see the design that way, it’s a little hard to believe it wasn’t intentional.

The 14-inch mirror hides the black wooden box containing the chassis.

You can see how the radio leans back, which let’s us see the mirror better, and makes the controls more accessible.  It also gives it stability to keep that big piece of glass from tipping over.  In fact, the Bluebird originally came with an optional blue mirror for the radio to sit on.  It was the exact same size as the main mirror, and could be fabricated to replace the radio’s mirror if necessary.

Here’s a photo of the real Bluebird next to my long-owned reproduction radio from the 1990’s.

The one on the left is a little over 20-years old, and the one on the right is over 80-years old.  The reproduction’s mirror is larger (16-inches), and the feet were originally chrome.  I painted them to look more like the real Sparton, and added the Sparton dial image.  Besides the size, the biggest difference is metal vs. plastic for the chrome, and of course tubes vs. transistors for the sound.

Why was the reproduction made larger, and why were the feet chrome?  In a print ad from the 1930’s, it incorrectly says the mirror is 16-inches, even though it was really 14-inches.  Another ad mentions “silver ball supports”, even though they were black.  Or, maybe they just thought the reproduction shouldn’t precisely match the real thing.

After selling most of my radios, it was nice to add one…especially the historic Sparton Bluebird.

Extra:

This bookcase that once held about 70 radios, now has radio books, books about musicians, and what’s left of a couple thousand CD’s and records.  The shelves also have some not-really-collectibles like these:

Some coffee mugs from radio stations where I worked in Nebraska and Oregon. There are also some microphones from my band and news-reporting days.

This photo is of three miniature metal radios.  The first two are really music boxes.  The black one (a Tesla) plays “In The Mood”, and the silver one (an Air King) plays “Puttin’ on The Ritz”.  The third one was just a pewter-colored paperweight that I painted to look like a real Catalin Addison.  I was given them about the time I started collecting radios.  Eventually, I was able to collect real versions of all three radios these miniatures represent.  Kind of like having a Bluebird reproduction for years, and finally getting a real one.

Extra 2:

Saw this photo on a radio discussion page.  It’s a Sparton Bluebird in the 1936 Jimmy Stewart movie “Born To Dance”.

The discussion determined it was the blue mirror version, and that it’s an optical illusion that it looks clear.  Ah…the Deco era had such style!

Radios For A Magazine

An Associate Editor of the Food Network Magazine recently called me about using some of my radios for an article.  Their Pioneer Woman magazine is featuring Bakelite and Catalin collectibles, and they requested photographs of some of my radios that are displayed on this site.  (Photos can be made clearer and larger with a “click”.)

1940 Fada “Bullet” Model 115 (made of Catalin plastic)

1938 Crosley “Split Grille” Model G1465 (Catalin)

1938 Emerson “Tombstone” Model BT 245 (Catalin)

1938 Emerson “Tombstone” Model BT 245 (Catalin)

1937 Emerson “Tombstone” Model AU 190 (Catalin)

1939 RCA “Little Nipper” Model 9TX4 (Catalin)

1938 Emerson “Little Miracle” Model AX235 (Catalin)

Tesla Talisman Model 308U (Bakelite, ’40’s design made in ’50’s)

Above are the radios they requested, and the last two I threw in.  I have no idea what might get used in the article.  They plan to edit the items onto their own background, so the photos were just “shelfies” shot on my white shelves.

Update:  Here’s the page in the article that included two of my radios, and a poker chip caddy.  You can click or touch to make it readable.

To clarify a few points:  Although Bakelite was used for radio parts in the 1920’s, it was in the 1930’s when radios with Bakelite cases joined wooden radios.  I suggested if Bakelite collectors only wanted one radio, the Fada Bullet is the most iconic design.  And, although Catalin radios are very breakable, the main reason they were discontinued was because of the man-hours needed to produce them.  Still, I appreciate that radios were included in the 4-page article about Bakelite.  The full issue is over 100 pages long.

Last year, it was nice of The Southern California Antique Radio Society to include one of my photos in their magazine.

It was the above photo of the Shyvers Multiphone tabletop jukebox owned by friend and collector David O’Hanlon.  Below is what the magazine and article looked like.  You can read the main page of the article by clicking on the photo, and then zooming if necessary.

Since I’ve sold most of my radios, it wasn’t too hard to also take photos of those that remain.  Here are some of them.

1940 Emerson “Patriot” Model 400 (Catalin)

1940 Addison “Waterfall” Model A2 (Bakelite)

1940 Addison “Waterfall” Model A2 (Bakelite)

1938 DeWald “Harp” Model A501 (Catalin)

1939 Sentinel Model 248NI (177U) [Catalin]

1945 Garod “Commander” Model 1B55L (Catalin)

1945 Sentinel “Wavy Grille” Model 284 (Catalin)

1947 Fada “Cloud” Model 845 (polystyrene plastic)

1936 Emerson “Tombstone” Model U5A (Plaskon)

1936 Emerson “Tombstone” Model 110 (wood)

1938 Grunow “Chrome Grille” Model 592 (wood)

1936 Sparton Bluebird, added 2020.

1939 Sentinel 248NR (177U) [Catalin] added 2020.

Many of these radios are featured with more information in the individual articles on this site.

Here’s a shot of most of my remaining radios:

And here’s the main display in 2018 before the recent sell-off:

The time seemed right to greatly reduce my collection.  Hopefully, the new owners are enjoying the radios as much as I did.

Sparton Nocturne

For some collectors, the Sparton Nocturne is the ultimate radio.  The Art Deco classic was styled by renowned industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague.  As you can see in the ad below (from 1935), Teague’s name is a big deal, and the design of the radio was to be revealed at a radio industry exposition.

(These 2 ads & all photos can be enlarged with a click.)

The Sparton Nocturne is a large floor model radio made of mirrored glass and chrome.  It came in a choice of blue or peach colored mirrors.  Our son, Paul, took some photos of a Nocturne at the Milwaukee Art Museum:

The radio was displayed with other pieces of industrial art.  Look closely, and you can even see the reflection of a red Air King Skyscraper radio in the close-up photo.

(The practical workings of the chassis and speaker are hidden in a large wooden box behind the beautiful mirror.)

The main reason there are not many Nocturnes is because they were very high priced for 1935.  The $350 price tag was about the same cost as an automobile.  These radios were meant as lobby displays for high class hotels, not for use in typical homes.  The other thing is that it’s likely many of these radios ended up with broken mirrors.  After 84 years, it would be interesting to know how many of the surviving Nocturnes still have their original glass.

Today, that $350 price doesn’t seem very high when you consider that the value of one of these radios is closing in on $100,000.  A Sparton Nocturne sold for $95,000 in 2017.  The cheapest one I’ve heard about was $40,000.  Of course condition is a key factor, along with whether two really serious buyers are at the same auction.

Most Sparton radio buyers in the 1930’s opted for the much smaller table radio (about 14-inches in diameter), the Bluebird.   It sold for about $40.  Paul photographed a pair of those at the museum too (above).  The Bluebird was also designed by Walter Dorwin Teague.  They’re highly collectible, and normally sell for $2,500 to $5,000.

(Spartons from the collection of Hugh & Jane Hunt.)

The chrome & glass Sparton radio models reflect industrial art at it’s best, and certainly deserve to be in museums.

(Milwaukee Art Museum, photo by Paul Bausch)

World’s Best Radio Collection?

It seems impossible that there could be a greater radio collection than the one owned by Hugh and Jane Hunt of Blair, Nebraska.

(All photos can be enlarged with a click and zoom.)

The first display when you walk into the large “radio room” is the above group of amazing radios.  Collectors will see that the shelves are filled with many extremely hard-to-find radios, and yet, here they are all together!

Take a look at the row of Air King “Skyscrapers”.  Those nine radios from the 1930’s represent some of the most beautiful and colorful radios ever produced. Based on auction and private-sale prices I’ve seen, that one row of radios is worth around a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

(The yellow Air King is 1 of 2 known to exist.)

The second set of shelves (above), has 49 Catalin radios.  Look at them closely and you’ll see a whole row of Motorola “Circle Grilles”, and nearly a row of colorful Emerson “Little Miracles”.  There are a bunch of Tom Thumb radios, and on one of those shelves are these two radios:

These “Split Grille”  Detrola and Symphony radios are extremely rare, as is the Espey radio sitting next to them in the group photo.  Two shelves below is a blue Sentinel “Wavy Grille”.

One of these went for over $30,000 at an auction in New York.  Throughout Hugh & Jane’s collection are so many radios that individually would be the centerpiece of a typical collection like mine.

Next, look at the long wall across from those radios.

It’s hard for the mind to even take in these 87 fabulous Catalin radios!  You’ll have to “click & zoom” this photo to appreciate what’s there.  On this end alone, you can see the Sparton “Cloisonné” sets, Fada “Bullets”, 12 (12!) Emerson Tombstones, and rare Kadette “Clockettes”.

Here’s a shot from the other end of the shelves.  Enlarge & zoom to look closely at the gorgeous Fada’s, Addison’s, Emerson’s, DeWald’s, Sentinel’s, Motorola’s, Garod’s and more.

See anything you’d like to have in your collection?

Here is the last set of shelves on this end of the room:

(At the bottom are 4 ultra-rare Namco Catalin radios.)

(The Blue [oxidized to green] Namco may be the only one in existence.)

Now we turn to the shelves on the other end of the very long room.  There are non-Catalin radios in multiple displays, featuring rare Bakelite, Plaskon, wooden, mirrored, novelty, and some foreign radios:

There are also larger radios not on shelves:

Besides radios, there’s the recently acquired 1942 Rock-Ola jukebox, seen here with Jane and Hugh:

People may choose different types of radio collecting…wooden table radios, consoles, early breadboards, transistors, etc., and tastes differ.  This radio collection includes every Catalin model listed in John Sideli’s famous book Classic Plastic Radios of the 1930’s and 1940’s (and a couple models Sideli missed).  The collection even includes complete color combinations of some of the models, and most of the truly collectible radios made of other plastics.  Plastic was a new medium, and some of the world’s greatest designers developed these 1930’s and 1940’s radios.

(Jon Walker, Philip Bausch, David O’Hanlon, Hugh Hunt, Jane Hunt, John O’Connor, and Jeannette Bausch.  Thanks for the photo Scott!)

When we radio collectors get together at the Hunt house, we love to look at this “museum” of radios.  Is this multi-million-dollar radio collection the best in the world?  It is to us.

Bonus:  Hugh recently added a car radio to his collection.  Attached to it was this 1954 Cadillac:

Radios For Sale (with Price List)

Most of the below radios are for sale.  (Click to enlarge photo)  

If you’re interested in a radio, let me know, and I’ll give you a description of the condition, and follow that up with photos if you wish.

philbausch@gmail.com   541-543-3489 (in Oregon)

The price list is below the group photo, and has individual photos of the sale radios (click to enlarge).  Individual photos are removed after a Radio is sold, so the radios still available are easy to spot.

Please forward this post to anyone who is interested in radios.  You should be able to just click on the title of this article, and email it.  Thank you!

 Top of Bookcase:

Swirled Plastic Cavalcade RS1A…Sold

Red & Gray Plaskon Emerson 744B…Sold

Lafayette BB-22…$495 Sold

Philco Boomerang…$495 Sold

Fada Temple butterscotch & red Catalin…$950 Sold

Belmont 519 (all original)…$375 Sold

Black Bakelite & Ivory General Television “A”…$275 Sold

Left Bookcase Section:

Ivory Plaskon Kadette 40 Jewel…$425  Sold

Blue Motorola 51A…$350 Sold

Yellow Catalin Emerson AX235 Little Miracle…$1,500 Sold

Catalin Sentinel 177U (248NT)…$1,600 Sold

GE Catalin Jewel Box…$1,700 Sold

Blue Plaskon Gem 955…$275:

Emerson 246 Plaskon D-Dial…$395:

Red Catalin Chip Holder w/200 Catalin chips…$199:

“Radio” Radio…$75 Sold

Plaskon Coronado Racetrack…$399  Sold

Crosley Aqua 10-139 (rarest color, perfect chrome)…$375 Sold

Plaskon Majestic Triple Fin…$425  Sold

Rare Maroon (not brown) Bakelite Majestic “Zephyr”…$249:

 2nd From Left Bookcase Section:

Catalin RCA Little Nipper…$1,100:

Catalin Crosley Split Grille…$1,800:

Blue Plaskon Detrola Super Pee Wee…Sold

Bakelite & Ivory Swirl Detrola 218 Pee Wee…$325  Sold

Catalin Motorola Circle Grille…$2,200  Sold

Catalin Oxblood Red DeWald Harp…Sold

Catalin Brown & Swirl DeWald Harp…$750 Sold

White Catalin Emerson Patriot…$775 Sold

Green Catalin Aristocrat Sold

Blue Catalin Emerson Patriot…$1,200 Sold

Remler Plaskon & Bakelite radio/phonograph…$595  Sold

Remler Black Bakelite & Ivory 5505…$375 Sold

 Center Section:

Air King “Skyscraper”…Sold

Green Catalin Emerson BT-245 Tombstone…$2,800…Sold

 4th From Left Bookcase Section:

Maroon & Butterscotch Catalin Fada Bullet…Sold

Blue Fada 1005…NFS

Red & Butterscotch Catalin Garod Commander…$1,200:

Red Catalin Addison 5 Courthouse (all original)…$2,400 Sold

Red Catalin Sentinel 284 Wavy Grille…$1,900 Sold

Green & Black Catalin Bendix…Sold

Red Catalin RCA 66X8…$695 Sold

Blue & Ivory Plaskon Setchell Carlson…Sold

Plaskon DeWald 555 Cash Register…$595 Sold

 5th From Left Bookcase Section:

Maroon Bakelite & Ivory Plaskon Addison 2…NFS

Catalin Green & Butterscotch Addison 2…$375 (damaged) Sold

Blue/Green Plaskon Addison 2…$1,200  Sold

Majestic Studio 59 Chrome Grille…$735 (original wood finish, restored electronics) Sold

Grunow 450 with perfect Chrome Grille…$395 Sold

World’s Fair Glass Rod Zenith…$595 Sold

Wood Majestic Duo Moderne Chrome Grille…Sold

Wood Jewel R-188 Chrome Grille…Sold

 Not shown in group photo:

Wood Addison 5 Courthouse…$375 Sold

Blue Crosley Bullseye 11-101-U…$195 Sold

Replica of Sonora Excellence 301 by Sharper Image…$75 Sold

 All radios…Buyer pays shipping

Plaskon Radios

Bakelite and Catalin get most of the attention, but Plaskon radios have some of the best designs and colors.  Plaskon was molded with more detail than Catalin, and could be colorful without being painted like Bakelite.  Below are some examples of radios made out of Plaskon.

An elegant ivory Plaskon Kadette model 40 “Jewel” from 1935.  It’s a small radio, about 7 1/2″ wide by 5 1/2″ high.

Here’s a rare cobalt blue Plaskon 1946 Setchell Carlson model 416.  Sometimes people paint other “Frog Eyes” in these colors, but this is an original model made of blue and ivory Plaskon (not painted).

The 1939 Farnsworth AT-11 “D-Dial” is usually seen in brown Bakelite, but the details of the design show up best in ivory Plaskon.

Here’s the Plaskon version of a 1947 Coronado “Racetrack”, model 43-8190.  It’s usually found in painted Bakelite.  The trim is a swirled blue polystyrene plastic that looks similar to Catalin.

This is another radio with a combination of plastics.  The main case is blue Plaskon, the front is Beetle Plastic, and the knobs seem to be Tenite.  It’s a 1939 Detrola model 219 Super Pee Wee.

Another small radio is the 1938 Emerson 246 D-Dial.  It has a very stylized Plaskon case, giving it a really cool look.  It uses the same Emerson chassis as the Catalin Little Miracle.

Rarely seen in Plaskon instead of brown Bakelite is the 1938 DeWald model 555 cash register shaped push button radio.  What an original design.

This Addison 2 from 1940 is made of blue/green Plaskon.  Addisons were manufactured in Canada.

Probably the cleverest and smallest table radio with a record player is this 1947 Remler model 5300.  Much of the radio is ivory Plaskon, but it also incorporates Bakelite.  The lid flips back to allow the 78 rpm records to fit onto a small turntable.

One of the best designed radios ever is this small Emerson tombstone radio, model U5A from 1936.  It’s very detailed molded lines are as Deco as they come.

Speaking of Deco, I was given a book about the Deco era, and the only radio they showed in it was this 1937 Majestic model 651 Triple Fin.  Most of these are Bakelite or painted Bakelite, but this one is Plaskon.

Canada was the source for this light blue Gem radio, model 955.  It was manufactured by the Jewel Radio Company in the 1940’s.

This 1939 Detrola model 274 Split Grille is another small radio with an ivory Plaskon case.  The grille and knobs are colored Tenite.

One of the oldest Plaskon designs is the Air King Skyscraper which originated in 1933.  This one, model 770, is from 1937.  It has the speaker opening in the front, instead of on the top like the earlier models.  (Note:  Radio friend G.R. bought this one from me, and took the photo.)

One of the main reasons Plaskon radios can be hard to find is that the cases are pretty thin, making them susceptible to breakage, stress lines and cracks.  Of course their rarity makes them that much more attractive to collectors.

Motorola Circle Grille

Among the most desirable Catalin radios is the 1940 Motorola 50XC, which is known as the Circle Grille.

It’s a fairly small radio, about 10-inches wide, 6 high, and 5 deep.  This particular radio has a rich butterscotch patina with that deep Catalin shine.  The colors of cases for this model also include red, turquoise, green, & brown tortoise-shell.

In his book “Classic Plastic”, John Sedeli calls the Motorola Circle Grille “One of the most appealing radios”…and says “The cabinet and dial face are both beautifully designed and very Deco.”  The large round speaker bezel and the wrap-around horizontal lines are distinctive features.

As you can see, this radio was rough-looking when I got it.  The bezel attaches to the case with screws, and someone had over-tightened the bottom screw and split the circle.  Fortunately, that was the only serious problem.  While the speaker bezel was being professionally repaired by Dan Blake, I cleaned the entire radio, and hand-polished the cabinet with Simichrome.  When the bezel was done, I replaced the grille cloth, and also had the electronics completely restored by Northwest Vintage Radio Society member Blake Dietze.

It was a bit of a project, and I needed “a little help from my friends”, but it’s nice to have a Motorola Circle Grille in the collection!