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Over Easy: Radio as Art

1937 Airline Miracle – flickr creative commons

Good Morning All

With all the insanity in the world today I thought I would go back when life was considerably more sane and calm and comforting. When Art Deco reached its peak and Radio was king.

The Art Deco movement influenced nearly everything, from auto-mobile design to skyscrapers. And of course radios, large and small. The internals of these radios did not vary much from model to model or even from manufacturer to manufacturer but the cabinetry was quite elegant. Like this high-end Philco or the crème de la crème, the Zenith 1000 Stratosphere — Zenith’s top of the line model for 1935. Manufacturers wanted their radios to look good as well as sound good.

There were classic table models and cathedral designs and the so called tombstone models as well. Or this chair side radio by Zenith.

The wood cabinets were handmade in a lot of cases and had inlays and very fine finishing. For someone with the bucks to spend they still can be had but for a price. Some going for in excess of a thousand dollars restored. They are very, very collectible and people will go to extremes to restore and refinish the cabinets. I even found a web site that documented one person taking the radio chassis inside completely apart down to the last nut and bolt and cleaning and rebuilding it. OY!

Here are a few of the more unusual ones.

RCA Worlds Fair

RCA San Francisco

Zenith Louis XV

Stewart Warner

 

And many others, including Bakelite cabinets and plastic. But by the late 1960s fancy cabinetry was all but gone.  Replaced by simple, mostly plastic shells. Functionality and cost-conscious consumers ruled the day. Even the large console televisions were on the way out.

So if you will remove your ear buds for a minute, here is what radio use to be like.

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cmaukonen

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