A Visit to Radio Heaven, 1998

In 1998, a gentleman of my acquaintance was gracious enough to let me photograph part of his stunning radio collection. This page shows a small sample of what I saw that day.

The photos on this page are thumbnails; click any picture for a larger view.

The two photos above depict what you see when entering one of several large rooms crammed with antique radios. Directly ahead are three handsome Zenith consoles, standing under a shelf full of Zenith TransOceanic portables. This room contains several other consoles not seen in these views, including Philcos with remote "mystery" controls.

Turning left, you enter an area lined with shelves of vintage sets. Standing in that far area are several more console radios. On top of a Scott console stands a large Pilot cathedral set with a semicircular dial. We'll get a closer look at the Scott later in this article.

     

The three photos above show another part of the room. From left to right, the first shot shows a tall shelf packed with tombstones, tabletops, and some interesting radio magazines. The second shot shows the other side of that shelf, holding more tabletops, an assortment of vintage test equipment, and even a couple of old telephones. Turning your gaze to the right reveals another wall full of tabletop radios and a Philco Predicta television.

Furnished with easy chairs, a billiard table, and oil paintings of nautical subjects, this room is definitely a male retreat. You can picture spending many a quiet afternoon here, perhaps enjoying a good cigar while you listen to one of its many fine radios. (Every set in this collection has been electronically restored, by the way.)

        

Moving farther into the inner sanctum, the above three photos show a few selections from yet another entire wall of vintage sets. Jackson-Bell fans will recognize the famous model 62 "peacock" cathedral in the first photo. The second and third pictures show more interesting tombstone and cathedral radios, including one with a lyre-shaped figural grille.

  

Lower on the same wall is a rare Kolster portable, complete with its original loop antenna. Standing next to it is another small cathedral.

  

Shown above is a handsome Electrola console radio/phonograph. Large doors swing open to reveal the console's controls and a set of leather-bound record albums. Two lower doors, partly visible in these photos, provide extra storage space for albums. The original owner's manual lies on the phono turntable.

Placed on top of the Electrola console are two more interesting items. The front of this radio is hinged at the bottom and it swings down to expose the black Bakelite front panel and dials. I believe that the ship-shaped item on top may be an Atwater Kent speaker.

  

The imposing Splitdorf console shown above dates from a time when tubes were proudly incorporated into the radio's design. Look at the ornate decoration surrounding each tube in the close-up view. As with the Electrola shown earlier, this radio still has its original owner's manual and channel log. A "graphic radio log" is also glued inside the lifting cabinet top. Original literature contributes to the enjoyment (and value!) of vintage sets like these.

Last, but certainly not least, we see a large Scott Laboratories console. This looks like a postwar model 16A "Metropolitan," with standard broadcast and FM coverage. More common than the 16A is the 800B, which also included shortwave coverage. Several years after taking these photos, I acquired a similar Scott radio/TV/phono console.

Is that all, you say? Not by a long shot! The few dozen radios shown in these photos comprise a tiny portion of the total collection. In this building are housed several hundred more items spanning the entire range of radio and audio history. These include crystal sets, breadboards, "boatanchor" communications equipment, Bakelites, Catalins, consoles, tube portables, transistors, high-fidelity tube audio gear, miniature television sets, novelty radios, and more. If you could name it, it was probably stashed away somewhere!

Thirteen years after I took these photos, I learned that the owner had passed away and his estate was liquidating the collection. I made another visit and took some more photos, which I'll add to this article when time permits.

©1995-2017 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved