Crosley Model 517 "Fiver" Bakelite Radio (1940)

This radio was used as a prop in the TV show Northern Exposure. When I bought it at the post-show prop auction, the metal case had been sprayed with a thick globby layer of dark green paint. When I removed the paint, a gleaming copper finish appeared. I had never seen a copper-clad cabinet before, and at first I wondered if it was some peculiar undercoat for a factory paint finish. The copper is clearly original, in any case.

This big guy features Crosley's fabulous "Fiver" dial with a gold mirrored background. If I had to pick an all-time favorite dial, this would be right up there near the top.

Another unusual feature is the front panel. It's one gigantic bakelite grill, with holes for the dial and knobs. I wouldn't call this radio elegant, exactly. The metal cabinet and grill almost seem as if they came from different radios. But it definitely makes a dramatic impression, and I love it because it's dramatic and unusual.

Years after I acquired the radio, I ran across this 517 Fiver page, stating that this model came in three color schemes, all painted. So the cabinet was originally painted after all, but the sloppy green repaint was presumably done by the TV show's propmaster.

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