Philmore Crystal Set (1940s)

A boy's dream, and one of the all-time great boxes!

Although we think of crystal sets as very old-fashioned, small crystal sets were sold to the mass market until the 1960s, when transistors finally relegated them to the realm of novelty and experimentation.

Components and operation are as simple as can be. The crystal and cat's whisker are mounted in the center. Below them is the tuner, which simply slides back and forth to select the signal. The four Fahnestock clips on the sides let you connect the antenna, ground, and headphones.

As you can see from the box, the receiver is supposed to have a little glass cover over the crystal. I ordered a replacement glass from Antique Electronic Supply.

According to the book Crystal Clear, Philmore Super models were sold beginning in 1926 and were priced at $1.50 around 1931. The book doesn't give exact dates for every variation, but I gather that the earliest models had metal bases and later ones used bakelite or plastic. I'm just guessing that this salmon-colored base, variegated with white streaks, was made some time during the 1940s.

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