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.

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.

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