Bought this 1937 Emerson AT 170 “Slant-Front” from friend and collector Gary Marvin. There aren’t many of these around. I see it listed in one book as a Z-159, and there are other numbers for similar models, but this one has AT 170 imprinted right into the wood on the back of the cabinet. My plan was to display this next to a similar-sized 1937 Crosley 656. But, the best laid plans ended up with the Emerson being about one-inch too deep to fit into the display cabinet…as you can see:
So, for now, the Emerson sits on a stand near the fireplace, but it will probably end up somewhere else.
There are some unique features with this particular model of the “Slant-Front”. Obviously, the tele-dial stands out. It can be turned by hand to tune-in stations, or one can use the regular tuning knob. Another knob flips the dial from the AM display, to the Short Wave display. Also, the dial moves back-and-forth left-to-right to display the frequencies, instead of the usual pointer moving across the dial.
One of the more deluxe features of this Ingraham-designed cabinet is that instead of the normal grille cloth, it has curved-wood louvers as the speaker opening:
I sure like the radio…now…where to put it? Maybe an end table.
Why is this radio blue?
The 1939 Motorola Model 51A only came in brown Bakelite and ivory painted Bakelite. This small 9×6-inch radio is one I’d been wanting to add to our collection for some time, but they’re hard to find. Recently, I found this one:
I didn’t have any repainted radios in the collection, but this one was well done… and since I might not find another one…I bought it.
Incredibly, about 3 weeks later, I found a brown Bakelite one at a radio swap meet. The radio case was in bad shape, with multiple cracks and repairs with glue flaking off, but the price was right, so it became a “project”. I had to bond the cracks from inside the case, and fill them from the outside. Then I spent hours of sanding to try to get the cracks to disappear. Next, I painted it black:
I already had an ivory one, and black was a fairly common color for 1939 radios. Unfortunately, the paint job wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, and some of the cracks still showed. So…I stripped the paint off and started over. After more filling and much more sanding, I made a bold choice (some might say wrong choice). I painted it to look like the blue Plaskon radios of the late ’30’s. The radio’s design features show up better with the lighter color, and I didn’t want another ivory one. It’s probably a poor choice if I were planning to sell the radio, but I wanted to enjoy it for the design. One bonus is that the chassis was working great.
The speaker grille reminded me of an old microphone, but my research found that mics that look like that actually came after 1939, so it probably was designed to look similar to some of the car grilles of the ’30’s. By the way, the dictionary defines “grille” as the covering of an opening…such as a car grille. And it defines “grill” as a place to eat, even though some Bar & Grills add an “e” because they think it looks fancier. So the proper spelling of the speaker covering on a radio is apparently “grille”.
The two Motorola’s…and a blue Plaskon 1939 Detrola:
“Radios Past” features collectible radios of the 1930’s and 1940’s, with some from the 1950’s.
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