While searching for information on vintage model airplanes and rockets, I ran across these pages from 1930s era Christmas catalogs from the Spiegel and Sears Roebuck companies. I can remember as a kid in the 1960s carefully leafing through the Christmas Wish Books when they came in the mail, being sure not to miss a single control line airplane, slot car racing set, model train setup, BB gun, chemistry set, GI Joe action figure (although they weren't called that at the time), backyard tent and camping equipment, bicycle, mini bike, and a host of other "guy" stuff. |
According to the 1933 Spiegel Christmas catalog, a tabletop 5-tube AC-DC radio from Philco plus an RCA Victor phonograph combo cost $49.95. It sure seems like a heck of a deal until you consider that the BLS CPI* inflation calculator says that price in 1933 is equivalent to $885.19 in 2012 dollars. For $39.95 ($707.97 in 2012), you could add an RCA Victor radio with "four mighty tubes" and a folding aerial to your horseless carriage!
The 1937 Sears Roebuck Christmas Wish Book offered a floor model Silvertone radio with 11 tubes (the newly announced 1938 model) for a mere $51.85. That's $829.52 in 2012 money. So, for about the same expenditure you could get a tabletop radio and phonograph combo or a furniture quality floor model radio. With three bands to choose from - 5.8 to 18 M.C. (megahertz) foreign, 1.7 to 6 M.C. shortwave, and 545 to 1,800 K.C. (kilohertz) - you wouldn't even need to have the television set turned on for continuous entertainment.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index
Radio Advertisement from the 1933 Spiegel Christmas Catalog
Radio Advertisement from the 1937 Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalog