Hallicrafters 5R34A "Continental" Bakelite Radio (1951)
A charming little radio with an unusual design, this is one
of the few consumer radios made by Hallicrafters,
the giant maker of "boatanchor" communications receivers.
Other consumer Hallicrafters sets in my collection include the simple
5R60 and the rare clear Lucite clock radio.
I have several communications receivers,
as well, which you can view in our Communications gallery.
Unlike the 5R60, this radio receives shortwave (6Mhz-18Mhz) as well
as the standard broadcast (AM) band. And its design is considerably
more interesting. Dubbed the Continental, it may have been
designed by the firm of Raymond Loewy, although I have seen no
evidence that Mr. Loewy himself had any hand in its design.
Either way, the Continental has a distinctive, streamlined appearance.
Its factory-painted bakelite cabinet was available in four colors:
dark charcoal, dark green, beige, and the greyish blue seen here.
Like many old shortwave radios, its dial lists a number of
foreign place names: Singapore, China, Egypt, Korea, Cairo, Alaska, Greenwich,
London, South Africa, Havana, Stockholm, Argentina,
Amateur 40 meter, London, Amateur 20 meter, London.
The A at the end of the model number denotes later production
runs, which used all-glass miniature tubes in place of octal tubes.
The label on the bottom of my set shows both sets of tubes, octal
(35Z5GT, 12SA7, 12SK7, 12SG7, 50L6GT) and miniature (35W4, 12BE6,
12BA6, 12AV6, 50C5).
Hallicrafters also made a model 5R50 Continental radio, identical
to this 5R34 except that the speaker was moved to the top
and the speaker grille was replaced with a clock, including an AC
plug for turning on an appliance such as a coffeepot. If anybody
has a 5R50 for sale, send me some email.
I'd love to wake up to the BBC with my coffee already brewing!
This radio required very little in the way of restoration. Its painted
cabinet has almost no nicks or scratches and the interior was very
clean when found. After I replaced the old paper capacitors, the radio played very well. With a small tuning knob, and no
bandspread feature, this radio is more difficult to tune on shortwave
bands than my big boatanchors. But its reception and fidelity are
quite impressive for such a simple set.
The two lower knobs are not original. The original lower knobs had recessed
centers and were painted to match the cabinet.
The upper knob also appears to have been repainted. It is supposed
to say Volume, but mine is plain. After reading about my non-original
knobs, a fellow collector sent me two reproductions which he had made
from his original set. Thanks, Ron! After I paint them to match, I'll
take a new photo of this radio.