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 Post subject: British Radio I.D.?
PostPosted: Apr Thu 22, 2010 6:00 am 
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Hi:

I'm wondering if any of our friends across the pond can identify a British radio, from the time they were called a wireless, shown in the picture below. The photo is from an Alfred Hitchcock movie called Rich and Strange, made in 1931. I'm asking because I'm currently working on a project concerning Hitchcock.

Hitchcock often put things in his movies for a reason, usually to help an audience of the day understand more about his characters. A radio might have been cheap or expensive, to let viewers know the financial standing of a character.

This radio, being tuned by actor Henry Kendall, is in a modest semi-detached house in someplace like Surbiton (well, a set at Elstree representing such a house). If anyone knows what make it was, as well as any other information like what price class it was (cheap, medium-priced or expensive), I'd be very grateful. Also, it has a detached loudspeaker, and I'm wondering if the receiver and speaker would have been sold together, of if a purchaser had to choose components.

The last thing that would be helpful is knowing if this was a common radio or not - whether people watching the movie would have known right away what make it was.

Image

Thanks in advance -
Sandy McLendon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Thu 22, 2010 6:34 am 
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Location: British Columbia
I wonder if it was a British Kolster or a Kolster Brandes? It looks a lot like a Kolster battery set that I had years ago but without a cabinet. I would guess that it was a mid range radio, the one I had was a six tube TRF from about 1926-27 would be my guess. The speaker won't tell you much, many people bought a speaker to match their decor rather then one to match the receiver.
Best Regards
Arran


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Thu 22, 2010 6:40 am 
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Arran:

The time frame you mention squares with my own thinking. The radio looks a bit dated for 1931; I've seen photos of Murphys, Pyes, and Bushes from that era, and they look much more modern than this one (in fact, they look much more modern on average than mass-market American sets of the time).

Amplion also occurs to me, but I know next to nothing about them, except that Bush spun off from that company.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Thu 22, 2010 7:20 am 
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.

I dunno, I may be all wet on this - - - - but the escutcheon looks a lot like some of the 1930s,ish Majestic receivers
to me.

Makes you wonder if the radio in the photo might be a chassis only, mounted into a book case or some such, note
the escutcheon on this majestic Model "93."

ImageImage



Another Majestic escutcheon that looks a lot like the one in the photo is from the model "130."

Image

Arran is correct about the escutcheon and receiver in the picture looking something like a Kolster 6-D battery set:

Image



It wouldn't be the first time a movie properties department took some license with models, years, and yes -
- even with the country of origin in some cases.

I may be on the wrong track, but the escutcheon in the photograph doesn't look very "British" (for that time
period)
to me.

.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Thu 22, 2010 4:00 pm 
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Dale:

You might be on to something here - I know that there was a lot of overlap between U.S. and British manufacturers at that time, something that changed later on.

I enlarged the photo, tweaking the gamma and the focus, to give a better view. The escutcheon does look very similar to the first Majestic you posted.

Hopefully, our British friends will know more - if it wasn't something cobbled up by the prop department at Elstree. That happens a lot in movies.

Image

Thanks, and keep those guesses coming. P.S. - Ain't that the purtiest speaker grille you ever saw?

Sandy


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 2:57 am 
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In an effort to give everyone a better view, I went back to the DVD of this movie and grabbed another frame, then enlarged and tweaked. I also gave the dialogue another listen, and found something I hadn't paid enough attention to before. The housekeeper of the young couple in this scene tells them: "I had the wireless batteries charged."

That squares with British electricity in London's suburbs at that time; in the 1930s, different areas had AC or DC, and voltages weren't consistent, meaning that your small appliances could be made useless if you moved. One of my books on British housing of that period says the situation was bad enough that it led people to forego appliances that weren't strictly necessary. So, this is a battery set, or is a prop representing a battery set.

Image

If anyone knows anything, I'd be grateful. The escutcheon really does look like a Majestic. Radiomuseum.org's search turns up U.K. Majestics, though their examples begin in 1932, one year later than this movie. And it would make sense that an American company could easily export its battery models, particularly if U.K. preference was for battery sets instead of mains power.

The search continues - hopefully some of our U.K. contingent can help here.

Sandy McLendon
danemod@netzero.net


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 6:47 am 
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'

Quote:
And it would make sense that an American company could easily export its battery models, particularly if U.K. preference was for battery sets instead of mains power.



Not really.

If my understanding is correct, the U.K., as did some other European Countries, taxed receivers by the number of tubes used. A six tube accumulator (battery) set wouldn't have been terribly attractive to the potential market in Great Britain. The tax situation was in some measure the driving force that saw British sets with fewer valves (tubes) than their American counterparts - - - it also produced sets that achieved very good results in relation to the number of valves used.

Perhaps someone from the U.K. can weigh in here and add to - - or correct me, if my understanding is in error.

.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 7:21 pm 
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Progress! Yippee!

John at UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration has identified the loudspeaker as a Marconiphone Model 62, from 1930-31, exactly the time when the film was made.

There is not yet any info on the radio itself, but hopefully something will turn up. It's always possible that it's a home-brew, or a prop, so I may have to be content with the speaker information.

Image

Sandy McLendon
danemod@netzero.net


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 7:41 pm 
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P.S.: Can anyone enlighten me about what a "reed movement" loudspeaker was?

From the copy in the Marconi ad, I'm getting an impression that it was a cheaper type of loudspeaker, aimed at the price-conscious buyer.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 8:31 pm 
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May be like our pin drive speakers.

_________________
I move the world just one step on...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 8:42 pm 
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Quote:
P.S.: Can anyone enlighten me about what a "reed movement" loudspeaker was?


Reed-drive speakers are what we in the States would sometimes call a pin-drive . What it really says is that the cone
is actuated by a thin wire or reed - - - and works within the field of a permanent magnet.

All of this is to say the speaker was mostly designed battery operated sets.

Here's a shot of an equivalent American produced Rola "Re-Creator" model speaker:

Image
Image


The driver mechanism seen from the rear with the cover off:

Image


Here is a closer look at the small pin that is attached to the apex of the speaker's cone and serves to actuate it, pro-
ducing sound. The circular dingus is the driver's permanent magnet.

Image

These were primarily designed to use with battery operated receivers but on occasion were used with very early AC
powered sets as well.

.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 11:07 pm 
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Dale:

Thanks - your post helps me understand several things. First, the type of speaker is consistent with a battery set, as it's said to be in the film. And now I understand how a pin or reed drive differs from a moving coil.

What I do NOT understand is how that speaker in your photos is in such fantastic shape. Because of the brand name "Re-Creator," I thought I was looking at some kind of repro item for hobbyists - those photos look like they're of something brand-new, not something from the '20s. I only understood what I was looking at when I Googled Rola.

Somebody sure takes care of their stuff! :o


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 11:27 pm 
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Quote:
What I do NOT understand is how that speaker in your photos is in such fantastic shape.

Its a restoration. When I found the speaker (locally) it was complete but most of the paint was gone on the metal bits, and the wood was warped and swelled from being wet. Even the nameplates on the thing had to be refurbished. The restoration is now probably a dozen years or so old.

.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sat 24, 2010 11:53 pm 
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Amazing work you did - everything looks factory-fresh, rather than restored. Screw threads and slots just as clean and sharp as new, everything.

Nice work. NICE work.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sun 25, 2010 6:21 am 
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Location: British Columbia
Dale Davenport wrote:
'

Quote:
And it would make sense that an American company could easily export its battery models, particularly if U.K. preference was for battery sets instead of mains power.



Not really.

If my understanding is correct, the U.K., as did some other European Countries, taxed receivers by the number of tubes used. A six tube accumulator (battery) set wouldn't have been terribly attractive to the potential market in Great Britain. The tax situation was in some measure the driving force that saw British sets with fewer valves (tubes) than their American counterparts - - - it also produced sets that achieved very good results in relation to the number of valves used.

Perhaps someone from the U.K. can weigh in here and add to - - or correct me, if my understanding is in error.

.


From what I remember the preference towards a smaller tube count in Britain wasn't driven by a tax on the number of tubes used in a radio receiver but the cost of replacement valves; though this was the case in Germany during the 1920s. British Domestic domestic tube types, or valves as they call them, were marketed under the auspices of "The British Valve Association" which operated almost as a combine. The B.V.A members would sell their valves to the British radio manufacturers at cost or bellow cost, then they would recoup their profits at retail on the replacement end.
There were some manufacturers like Philco and Kolster Brandes that preferred to use American type tubes, and others that used European continental types, and they often didn't observe the four tube limit. Ironically it was often less expensive to buy foreign tubes, like American types, then it was home grown British types.
Best Regards
Arran


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sun 25, 2010 6:24 am 
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danemodsandy wrote:
Dale:

Thanks - your post helps me understand several things. First, the type of speaker is consistent with a battery set, as it's said to be in the film. And now I understand how a pin or reed drive differs from a moving coil.

What I do NOT understand is how that speaker in your photos is in such fantastic shape. Because of the brand name "Re-Creator," I thought I was looking at some kind of repro item for hobbyists - those photos look like they're of something brand-new, not something from the '20s. I only understood what I was looking at when I Googled Rola.

Somebody sure takes care of their stuff! :o


I believe that the proper name for a reed type speaker is a balanced armature type, sometimes pin drives are b.a types, sometimes not.
Best Regards
Arran


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Sun 25, 2010 7:27 am 
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Quote:
From what I remember the preference towards a smaller tube count in Britain wasn't driven by a tax on the number of tubes used in a radio receiver but the cost of replacement valves

Quote:
I believe that the proper name for a reed type speaker is a balanced armature type, sometimes pin drives are b.a types, sometimes not.



Thanks Arran, I appreciate the insight.

Dale


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