Motorola Model 5R1 Bakelite Radio (1951)

Measuring only about 8 x 4 x 4 inches, this midget Bakelite radio makes up in dramatic appeal what it lacks in size. The checkerboard grille pattern is deeply recessed and the numbers of the tuning dial are molded in relief, as is the gold-painted Motorola name. A thick red dial bears the "serpentine" Motorola logo, also painted in gold. The cabinet is black Bakelite, painted white. This radio was found in western Washington during a trip we made in Summer, 1997.

The set employs only four tubes (12BE6, 12BA6, 12AT6, and 50C5), mounted on a copper-plated chassis. Noticeably absent from the classic "All American Five" tube lineup is a rectifier tube. I assume this radio uses a selenium rectifier instead, although I haven't yet peeked inside to confirm that. The radio plays well as-is, but I will definitely replace the failure-prone selenium rectifier with a safer silicon diode before using it regularly. When those old rectifiers croak, they emit a horrible stench, and might even start a fire!

In the meantime, this charming little set occupies a coveted position in the "honor guard," a small group of favorite radios located in our bedroom, where they will be seen every day. I always think of small white Bakelite sets as kitchen radios, but this one looks fine in the bedroom, where it provides a cheery accent among its bigger cousins.

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