Silvertone Model 4485 Console Radio (1937)

     

There's a personal detective story behind this radio.

When I was a teenager in the 1960s, growing up in rural Minnesota, my Dad got me a big old console radio. I'm not sure where it came from, but it could have been purchased during my home town's annual "bargain days," when merchants put marked-down items out on the sidewalk for sale.

The local radio/TV repairman usually put a few "dollar radios" out during that time, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was one of them. The radio would have been over 25 years old by then, and the 1960s were a time when people eagerly dumped big old tube sets in favor of small new transistor radios.

This was my bedroom radio and I used it to listen to rock and roll throughout my teen years. My Mom called it "The Boomer," for obvious reasons. My favorite stations were in Chicago and Little Rock, which came in loud and clear in the evenings.

I'm not sure what happened to this radio, but it disappeared some time after I left home. After I started collecting radios, I thought of The Boomer from time to time. Some twenty years after the fact, however, none of us—including me—could remember exactly what it had looked like, much less recall the manufacturer or model number.

In 2002, I was sorting through some old boxes and came across a scrapbook that I had kept in my early teens. To my surprise, it contained a drawing I had made of that very radio!

The drawing wasn't very detailed, but I posted it on my website and asked for help from the rec.antiques.radio+phono USENET newsgroup. Within hours, newsgroup member Jim Menning replied, stating that it looked just like his Silvertone model 4485 console.

Jim kindly provided some photos of his radio, which appear below. The console cabinet looks exactly like the one in my drawing. Notice the stepped shoulders and the mustache-shaped trim piece above the grille. The golden dial is graceful and distinctive, with a magic tuning eye gazing downward over a stylized mini-universe featuring waves, sun, and stars.

  

Sporting eight tubes and a twelve-inch speaker, this was a pretty respectable radio for 1937. It was a three-band, continuous-coverage set, beginning with the standard broadcast (BC) band and ranging through the old police/aircraft band and shortwave frequencies up to 18 megahertz. In addition to a tone control, it featured a selectivity control to aid in shortwave reception.

I haven't found a model 4485 of my own, but it was a big thrill to identify the long-lost radio of my youth. Silvertone offered the same dial and chassis in a tombstone cabinet, model 4465. Perhaps I'll look for one of those. Our house is too crowded to make room for any more consoles!

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