Philips Model LX444AB/01 Tube Portable (1954)

 

I have only a few European radios, but to my mind they exemplify two qualities: sleek appearance and sophisticated construction. Alongside US portables of the 1950s, which have an exuberant, colorful appearance, this set looks restrained, almost formal, but I think it's quite attractive. Its cabinet is formed of dark, heavy Bakelite, accented with thin gold pinstripes around the front and back edges. The knobs are clear plastic with fluting around the edges. The dial cover and grille cover are formed from a single piece of clear plastic, printed with the dial legends from behind.

A small Philips crest is placed at lower center, between the two pairs of knobs. Below the crest, peeking out from a deeply beveled slot, is a "magic eye" tuning indicator, an unusual feature for a portable.

This radio covers three bands, 20-59m, 185-580m, and 870-2000m. Inside are five receiving tubes, DF 96, DF 96, DK 92, DL 94, and DAF 96, plus the DM 71 magic eye tube.

In addition to an internal loop antenna, the set has a chrome-plated external antenna, which swivels up from the back when in use, and fits snugly around the edge of the backplate when stowed. If you look closely at the rear view, you can see the antenna in its storage position. Not shown in this photo is the vented Bakelite backplate, which attaches with four small screws.

Like my other European portable, the Schaub-Lorenz, this set runs on multiple AC voltages and also accepts a rechargeable battery. Near the lower right in the rear view you can see a small Bakelite knob against a reddish plate. This is used to select among three line-current voltages. It looks like there used to be a label marking the voltage positions of the switch, because somebody very lightly incised the numbers (220, 120, 30) next to the switch. The tan box under the metal chassis is where the batteries and line cord are stowed. This radio is missing its bottom plate, so I'll have to fashion a substitute one day.

The loop antenna on the backplate connects to the chassis through a two-pronged connector, which you can see near the middle of the upright reddish plate to the left in the rear view. Similar to the backplate power connectors in many table radios, the connector lets you remove the backplate for service without kinking or breaking wires to the antenna, a very common problem in old radios.

A neat usability touch is afforded by little icons on the edges of the dial, which explain the various settings for the multi-position switches. To change bands, for instance, you move the bandswitch to the position shown in the switch icon next to the desired band. A similar key on the other side of the dial shows you how to set the power control to Off, AC, Battery, or Recharge positions. No user's manual required! And this scheme allowed the manufacturer to put all the printing required in one place, on the dial, instead of using decals or painted lettering next to the switches themselves.

I own three other Philips radios: a large wooden B5-X-34-A tabletop from 1963, a 1957 Philetta model BD 273U in a Bakelite cabinet and a 1954 BX135U. The last radio is the same model used in a television movie that featured my website.

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