American Antique Radio Brands
Admiral radios are part of the group of radio brands manufactured by Continental Radio and Television Co. The company was founded in 1924 as a supplier for chargers of batteries. Because of their niche in radios, the company quickly grew. However, depression almost led the company into bankruptcy. To overcome the challenges, founder Ross Siragusa sought the assistance from investors who literally sold some of the things they owned in order to manufacture radios. By 1939, their Admiral brand of radio became a very popular brand in the country. The company also exported the Admiral to other countries because of their success. Continental Radio shutdown their operations in 1979 due to fierce competition from Japan made products.
Because the manufacturer has long been in gone before the hobby of antique radio became popular, it’s regarded as a collector’s item. The rarity of Admiral antique radios is usually on the pre-1950s collections before the popularity of portable, metal type radios. The 1950s until the 70s collection of admiral are also popular because of the sturdy metal enclosure. Restoration of most Admiral Radios is also known to be easy. Admiral is a type of radio that you can restore and even use as a regular, daily use radio.
Atwater Kent Radios was established by Arthur Atwater Kent. He started the company in 1895 as a manufacturer of car related parts. It was only in 1902 that the company opted to expand to electrical parts and radios. Through his efforts, the company became one of the biggest manufacturers in the country. His radios are thought to be one of the most sought after radios during the 20s. This was due to fierce advertising which has cost him at least $500,000. The success of his radio has also prompted Kent to start a popular radio show, the Atwater Kent Hour, during the later years of the 20s. Unfortunately, Depression has caught up with the company and Atwater Kent radios were only manufactured until 1937.
Atwater Kent antique radios is one of the most sought after antique radios by collectors. This type of radios only existed during the early decades of the 20th century. Aside from its age, the designs of the earliest Atwater Kent radios were every unique. The first Atwater Kent radios didn’t have any casing or chassis until the20s. Before the 20s, the components of the radios were just placed on top of planks. This type of radios was later referred to as “breadboards”.
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Crosley Antique Radios started rolling out in 1924 with a great background that had ensured its success. The manufacturing company, Crosley Radio Corporation was established in 1921 by Power Crosley, Jr. as Crosley Manufacturing Corporation. The company used to sell "Harko" brand of receivers and manufactures "Ace" receivers. The continuous success of the company has enabled them to produce their own brand of radios. It was so successful that they were able to make as much as 5000 radios in one day. By 1928, the company was a great success but it has to deal with fiercer competitors. Crosley survived for two more decades before they were purchased by Aviation Corporation in 1956.
The massive production of radios of Crosley during the late 20s and early 30s has made this brand of radio an easy find for most collectors. Their box collection that ranges from Cathedral to Phonograph Box type could be found in antique stores and online are usually in perfect working condition. These products were built during the 20s and 30s and are very delicate but will work as expected when they are placed in normal conditions. The later brands (early 40s and late 50s) are also in the same working condition like its earlier models that requires little to no restoration.
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The radios manufactured under the name Emerson could be traced back as early as early 20s. The company is currently known as Emerson Radio Corporation but was established as Radio Phonograph Co. The founder, Victor Hugo Emerson, used to be an employee of Thomas Edison. He established the company in 1915 but production only began after the company purchased a factory in Chicago. Even though the company was handed over to different owners through acquisition, the name and logo stayed the same. The brand and the logo is one of the oldest in the industry today.
The most sought after antique radios of Emerson were the type of radios that were manufactured before the late 70s. The preferred types of antique radios were manufactured before 1977 when the company is still known as Radio Phonograph Co. As the antique business is always geared towards the older type models, the radios during the 1930s of Emerson are very popular. The tombstone, tube and cathedral type of radios are very popular among hobbyists. The 1950s version of Emerson is also a known collector’s item because of their sturdiness even when they are decades in existence. Because of its legacy and the ability to survive, the brand Emerson is associated with toughness especially on their.
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The antique radios that came from General Electric were manufactured by Radio Corporation of America. General Electric established this company in 1919. The company started to branch out to other types of electronics but continued their manufacturing of radios for General Electric. With the help of RCA, General Electric became one of the most sought after brands during its time. RCA became an independent manufacturer but they still kept on producing radios for General Electric. The company was completely taken over by General Electric in 1987 and the RCA was dissolved but GE continued their operations in building radios.
Naturally antique radios of General Electric are associated with RCA. These are the most sought after types especially for antique collectors. The number of radios produced by RCA for General Electric is not as prolific compared to their competitors. RCA and GE are also preoccupied in producing different appliances at the same time they were releasing different types of radios. But they do have great looking antique radios such as feather touch radios and clock radios that could be easily repaired and refurnished. General Electric’s dedication to quality could be easily noticed through their radios which have been in existence since the early 20th century.
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Magnavox antique radios were originally built under the name of Commercial Wireless & Development Company. The company was established in 1917 after its founders, Edwin Pridham and Peter L. Jensen, were able to invent the loudspeaker – a simple device that could easily amplify sound to greater level. The invention was made in 1915 and they named it Magnavox because of its power. Because of the popularity of Magnavox, the company was renamed to Magnavox to boost their popularity. Magnavox still exists to this day but it is now under Philips. In 1974, Philips purchased part of Magnavox specifically, the part that deals with consumer electronics.
The antique radios of Magnavox are those that were built since its inception until 1974 or pre-Philips take over. Magnavox is one of the most powerful consumer electronics until today since they were credited with the invention of loudspeakers. Because of the size of the first loudspeakers, most of the antique Magnavox radios are large in sizes. They are usually associated with furniture since the radio is often placed inside a large case. Even during the 50s, the company is still manufacturing furniture type Magnavox antique radio. Because of their legacy, Magnavox still exists today as one of the well known brands for radios and sound related equipment.
Majestic antique radio is one of the most sought after brand of antique radio because of the short lived existence of the manufacturer. The manufacturers were established in 1928 as Grigsby-Grunow Company. It fared really well during those times even though they were a late competitor. Unfortunately, the company declared bankruptcy in 1933 due to depression. The next chapter of the company started as soon as it was bankrupt. Referred to as the post-1933 era, the company renamed itself as the Majestic Radio & Television Corporation. They have dedicated their production in radio under the Majestic brand. The company closed for good in 1937.
The company only existed for nine years. But during its existence (before and after), the company has produced some of the best antique radios. Most of the radios manufactured have amazing acoustics with very powerful loudspeaker. Whether its pre or post 1933; the Majestic antique radio is a collectors item not only for its rarity but also for their power. The boxes of Majestic radio, when kept in their original form will usually need refurbishing. However, the insides of Majestic are still functional. With a little tweak, they can go back to their original sound without flaw.
The brand Motorola is often associated today to mobile phones. But to an antique radio collector, the Motorola brand is totally different. The company was established as Galvin Manufacturing Corporation in 1928 by founders Joseph and Paul V. Galvin. The company started in manufacturing battery eliminators. It’s an early form of power converter that enables battery powered radios to run with household electric current. But the device became obsolete, and as a result, the brothers looked for another product to manufacture. Instead of regular radios, they created something even better – a radio for cars. The product was named Motorola which became the company’s name because of its success.
Motorola never made another radio again until 1955. This rarity has made collectors scrambling for two products Motorola has made – the 30s car radio and the 50s high powered transistor. Because of the niche Motorola has created during the 30s it became one of the well known brands but also the rarest in terms of transistor radios. The company focused most of their resources on communication radios. The 50s radio of Motorola on the other hand is also a collectors item because of limited manufacturing compared to the 30s where there is very little competition during its production.
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Philco or the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company is a very recognized brand in radio and appliances because of its continued existence until today. The company was established in 1906 as a manufacturer of car batteries. It saw considerable success in the industry but noticed a more lucrative industry – transistor radios. Philco started manufacturing radios in 1925 with the release of their "Socket-Power" radios. The power source of this type of radio could be installed in a light socket. Eventually, the company extended their products to regular radios as well as car radios.
The brand is well known for their designs especially with their cathedral type radios. The design of this type of radio is well recognized as an antique design for a transistor radio. Philco developed this design for a radio during the 30s and became a very popular. This type of design of Philco has even helped them during the Depression Era. They are also building popular designs in each era – from the tombstone design to compact radios encased in metal. Most the well known antique radios of Philco are those that were developed during the 30s and 40s especially the Cathedral design. The early edition of socket radio is also a collector’s item.
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Antique Radio's with Philco Turntables
For a collector of antique stuffs, a radio made in the post war period is of great importance. One of the few good companies that created gems of a radio set was Philadelphia Storage Battery Company, which later came to be known as Philco. Right from the beginning Philco made beautiful masterpieces, which survive till date. If you are lucky enough you can get your hands on one of the antique radios with Philco turntables. Turntables appeared quite sometime after the radio, and by the 1930s both the radio and the turntable made it in one single set. These antique radios with Philco turntables can be found in beautiful wooden chassis, and are often quite huge in size and could qualify as a furniture piece. Most of these turntables come with an inbuilt LP record holder also.
Bringing home a 1930s antique radio with Philco turntables brings that old timer's charm in your living room. You would also get these sets in the table top versions apart from the floor models. The record player in some models is very beautifully hidden with a lid, usually on the top of the set. Sets with FM/AM/SW reception capability along with turntables are an easy find on eBay or with the collectors. Most of the collectors have their websites flaunting their collection to the world. At times these collectors sell a part of their collection owing to duplication or space constraint or simply because it stopped working.
Turntables were an instant hit when they came in the market. The entry level models would cost anywhere between $50 for the small not so good table top types to north of $500 for the floor models. And owing to their demand the prices for most antique radio with Philco turntables remained the same throughout the time period that it sold.
A lot of the antique radio with Philco turntables surviving till date that are up for sale in the market are electronically restored and touched up to some extent to make it look like new and give it a fresh post war aura. Most of the later makes of Philco can play the LP in different speeds. If you are interested in one of those antique record players, it is advised to go for the ones that come with a complete schematic diagram and if possible a few spare parts. One would find old radio restoration stores nearby anyways, but the matter of concern is, the repairer might not be conversant with the particular model that you have. Hence having the schematic handy always helps.
RCA or Radio Corporation of America was founded in 1919 as a result of varying political factors especially with the US government’s efforts to control the communication patents. The company was established by GE and AT&T as a result of the purchase with Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America. After years of organization, RCA became an important part of the radio industry because of their different radio stations. They became involved in radio manufacturing when they acquired Victor in 1929. The RCA-Victor is credited to produce records with 33" ÷ rpm. It really didn’t fare well but it showed RCA’s ability to be part of the recording industry. RCA is also a strong supporter of 8-Track players. RCA was eventually dissolved by GE on 1986.
RCA manufactured radios under its name as well as GE. Like most radio manufacturing companies, they offered cathedral, tombstone and cabinet type of antique radio that was marketed during the depression era. Since their purchase of Victor, they diversified and offered antique radio phonographs. They usually come in large cabinet designs, especially during the 40s and the 50s. Its size usually suggests the price but the functions of RCA phonograph radios are very impressive. A cabinet radio could have an AM/FM function, phonograph player and even a microphone.
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Antique RCA Victor Radios
In the pre-war era when the US Navy wanted to commercially monopolize on the long distance radio communication, they joined hands with GE to give birth to RCA or Radio Corporation of America. As GE was already in the business of making world class beautiful radios, it was not difficult for RCA to embark on its legacy. Then RCA went on to buy Victor Talking Machine Company to get hold of the vast manufacturing and distributing system that they had. Hence, the existence of the RCA Victor radios came into picture.
Search the internet and finding an antique RCA Victor radios these days is not an impossible task at all. These radio sets of the early 1920s are made of beautiful polished wood and look very elegant, and have the chic contemporary look of those times. Apart from working as a regular radio set, these antique RCA Victor radios give your home that old timer's look. Just wondering who might have been the owner and what programs did they listen to in those days is very exciting.
Moreover, like the other manufacturers of its time, the RCA Victor also came with a number of different floor radios with wooden chassis, table tops, tomb stones etc, all made of wood, with elegant knobs. These sets would have 5 to 16 tubes, and varied along with the size and cost. These antique RCA Victor radios would cost anywhere between $25 for the table tops and tombstones to $500 or above for the floor models. The later makes sports the lighter bakelite body in tan or ebony, and because of the ease of molding the bakelite, one could find them in neat designs. If you can find those old floor radios now, you might have to cough up north of $1000 for a few models as only a few survive in the whole world. A lot of models also sport the logo showing a dog named Nipper listening to "His Master's Voice" that has become another collectable of its own.
Before purchasing one of these as a collectable item, make sure that it is the original stuff and if it can be restored. As the antique RCA Victor radios is an American brand, you get cheap look-alikes of the radio parts quite easily for restoration, but availing the original old spare is not a big deal either. Also one must make sure that he has the schematic of the antique RCA Victor radio model handy as you do not want to get it destroyed because of simple guess work instead of getting it restored.
Silvertone is Sears’ brand for their radios. Since Sears didn’t have a factory for building radios, they sought the assistance of RCA in manufacturing radios in their behalf. With RCA’s assistance, Sears was able to produce Silvertone radios. It has the same quality with RCA but only under a different name. Silvertone were released to the public from the 30s until the 50s. Sears eventually became the leader in retail industry and opted to leave the Silvertone brand for good. The increasing competition with Silvertone, which has a specialization in radios and related equipment, is also the factor for Sears’ abandonment of the Silvertone brand.
Since Silvertone is basically a product of RCA, the difference is usually only the logo. Performance wise, Silvertone can be compared to most RCA products that were produced during the 30s to the 50s. Collectors of antique radios would usually like to have a product of Silvertone because of their logo. The products offered by Silvertone are usually based on compact radios especially during the late 40s and 50s. Silvertone also offers records and radios with phonographs in a limited edition. The compact radios are very popular among antique collectors because of their simple yet very elegant design.
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Truetone antique radios are a group of radios that came from different manufacturers during the first half of the 20th century. This is a group of radios that promises better sound compared to other radios. Although the Truetone seal doesn’t necessarily mean better performance compared in terms of durability to other radios manufactured during that time, Truetone radios are highly recognized to have a better sound compared to other radios. From the early 30s until the late 50s, Truetone radios have been made by different radio manufacturers. The name Truetone is even ported to different musical instruments and Truetone is even referred to as a sample sounds for ringtones.
Because of the variety of products that were associated with Truetone, it is very difficult to have a single characteristic that will set the Truetone apart from other products. However, Truetone is often associated with great looking products that are set to become vintages. The compact radios of Truetone that were manufactured during the 40s and the 50s are very popular today among hobbyists. They are usually built with Bakelite cases which are set to last for a very long time. Related products of Truetone radios are also popular particularly their schematics, manuals and even posters.
The Westinghouse associated with the antique radios today, was established in 1880. From the year it was established, the company has concentrated on manufacturing different electrical products. The company was considered to be the leader in establishing power distribution even for homes located at a distance to the power source. It was only in 1921 that Westinghouse started to offer radios. However, the company didn’t manufacture their radios. The radios of Westinghouse were manufactured by RCA or Radio Corporation of America. Westinghouse continued to sell radios until the 60s.
The first Westinghouse radios were compact radios. Although it didn’t bear the name of RCA, the manufacturing design could be attributed to RCA. However, RCA only manufactured for Westinghouse until 1930. From the 30s until Westinghouse ended their production during the 60s, the radios built by Westinghouse had a different design as the company expanded to phonograph and other related products. The hobbyists are usually after the Westinghouse radios that were built by RCA. These radios feature tubes which was essential for radios during that time. They were small radios but highly efficient in performance. There are also transistor radios by Westinghouse produced during the early 50s that also became collector’s item.
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Zenith is recognized as one of the most revolutionary companies in the country because of their innovation and introduction of very important electronic products that are still used until today. The company started in 1918 as a manufacturer of amateur radios, but it moved to transistor radios in the early 20s. In 1923 the company registered as Zenith Radio Corporation. The company is credited to produce the first portable radios which were released near the end of the 20s. The founders were Ralph H.G. Mathew and Karl Hassel but the success of Zenith is credited to the sales strategy of Eugene F. McDonald, Jr.
Probably the most sought after edition of Zenith Antique radios is the shortwave radios of Zenith. They were the first type of radios that were developed by Zenith. In fact, this type of radio convinced McDonald Jr. that this product could be a great hit. The Stratosphere model of Zenith is also very impressive. This tube type radio was developed during the 30s and produces remarkable sound for a radio in that era. Their portable radios, which was the first in the industry, is a must for most collectors because of its beautiful wooden furnish as well as improved functionality compared to its contemporaries.
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Antique Zenith Radio's
If you are an ardent antique collector and you have the taste for old radios, you would know what you can't miss in your collection - an antique Zenith radio. Radio collectors pride over their antique Zenith radios and those who don't have them can just envy. The first Zenith radios were built in 1923, soon after its incorporation. They then went on to produce what can be called gem of a radio set. All different types of antique Zenith radios have a charm of their own. Be it the floor model wooden chassis, or a table top or a tomb stone. Usually available in American walnut, in ebony, tan and brown apart form a few other colors, these sets made it to all households in the 1930s and 1940s. Having products ranging from about $20 to upwards of $750 back then, they catered to every class of the society.
It is not very difficult to understand the relation between pricing and the model number in antique Zenith radios. The smaller numbered models in any series usually were lesser priced with the price going up gradually with the model number. From small table tops with 5 tubes to huge 15 tubes floor models, the quality with Zenith cannot be questioned.
Looking at the models of the antique Zenith radios, almost all average Zenith brands could receive domestic and foreign broadcasts. One would find chrome grilled models in the 800-series onwards, like the 809, 829, 835 etc. Continuing with its grand black dials which gave it the elusive elegant look, they entered into the white dial region with their 807 model. It also featured multi colored dials with a black background to differentiate between the different bands.
The rarest and most elegant catch among the antique Zenith radios is their Stratosphere models. Very chic designs to meet the contemporary styles, it was a style and a status symbol. Available in 3 models, the 16-A-61, 16-A-63 and the 1000Z, these were all above 43 inches high and featured 12 inches auditorium speakers apart from small reproducers. 1000Z model had 25 of them. The 16-A-16 model has a very bold look and a sturdy stature whereas the other 2 models quite elaborately designed. While the first two models were labeled at $450 which came down to about $290 the subsequent year, the 1000Z remained at an enormous $750 through out the 4 years that it was sold.
Now, only a handful of these antique Zenith radios remain. It is expected that there should be more of these wonders surviving in some part of the world.
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List of American radio brands