Sears, Roebuck & Co., Fall and Winter 1941−42 Catalog Cover
24 pages of radios, tubes, and batteries.
Page 832 - What's New in Radio for 1942?
Page 843 - Gasoline- and wind-powered electricity generators, storage batteries.
Vintage style Crosley Corsair Tabletop Radio
The year was 1941 and the radio industry was going strong worldwide. Sales of receivers was hitting new highs every quarter and service shops had all the work they could handle for repair, upgrades, and installations. The radio broadcast realm was scrambling to build new studios, install transmitters and antennas, hire announcers and managers, and upgrade to keep up with the quickly evolving business. Take a look at these 24 full pages of radio-related products offered by the Sears, Roebuck Company in their Fall and Winter 1941-1942 catalog. It is typical of most radio manufacturers' catalogs of the era. For the last decade engineers had been working overtime to satisfy consumer demand for fancier cabinet designs with fancier features. So strong was public demand that people put their highest priority on acquiring the latest models (not unlike the smartphone craze of today). Then, on December 7th, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. formally engaged World War II, and within weeks almost all efforts were converted from household products to wartime equipment. That effectively put a hold on new consumer radio product development and sales until late in 1945. Until then, existing warehouse stock and used radios were the only thing available.
Keep in mind that television had not yet entered the marketplace on a large scale, so radio constituted the primary means of obtaining "live" information. Sears had their own privately branded line of radios known as "Silvertone," which were manufactured by various companies such as Air King, Stewart Warner, Detrola, Colonial, Noblitt-Sparks (Arvin), and Warwick. Console (the big one that sat on the floor), tabletop, portable, and automobile radios were offered in many different models. Montgomery Ward's "Airline" and Western Auto's "Western Air Patrol" (and others) radios were also custom-branded third-party items made by the aforementioned electronics companies.
Note that included in the radio product section of the catalog are batteries and even a wind turbine electricity generator. If you are not familiar with the early days of radio, you might think the batteries were for only the portable radio; however, a lot of the console and tabletop radios were designed to run off of both AC and DC power. That was necessary because a large number of rural and more remote suburban areas were not serviced by AC power lines even by the early 1940s. Most farms ran entirely on DC - lights, appliances, etc. - and relied on deep cycle storage batteries for electric power. Unless a wind-, stream (hydro)-, or gasoline-powered generator was installed to recharge batteries, it was necessary to haul them into town for charging. High voltage supplies for plate biasing required a series and/or parallel connections of "B" batteries with terminal voltages of 45, 67½, and 90 volts. The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 facilitated installation of power lines to, eventually, nearly all residential and commercial locations, which ultimately mitigated the need for AC/DC radios. Of course the at-rest inertia of government programs meant that even by 1941 not a whole lot of progress had been made, and World War II caused further delay in implementation.
There has been somewhat of a renaissance in vintage-style radios, telephones, phonographs, and other electronic products, with Crosley being one of the main companies producing them. Crosley, of course, has been around since the early days of radio. If you are interested, here is my restored 1941 Crosley 03CB console radio as an example of what they were making at the time these Silvertone radios were around. It was probably one of the last consumer items manufactured prior to the factory being converted to wartime use. Most radios and phonographs of the time had very nice wooden cabinets, although a few were beginning to appear with a type of phenolic material that was advertised as "plastic." It would be nice if Crosley and/or others would begin making console style radios again with real wood cabinets. Modern electronics could be incorporated like programmable AM, FM, satellite, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth radio, a CD player, Smart Home connectivity, etc. As the average floor area of new homes continues to increase, space should not be a problem.
Page 833 - The Silvertone that has everything.
Page 837 - Electric console radios.
Page 841- Portable radios.
Page 841D - Battery radios.
Page 846 - 90-volt "B" batteries for home radios.
Page 834 - 6-in-1 Silvertone radios.
Page 838 - "Most improved" tabletop radios.
Page 841A - New kind of battery radio "Stratobeam."
Page 842 - 2-in-1 AC/DC radios.
Page 847 - 45-volt and 67½-volt "B" batteries for home radios.
Page 850 - Silvertone radio vacuum tubes.
Page 835 - 4-Star feature deluxe radio-phonograph.
Page 839 - Tabletop radios.
Page 841B - Best rural Silvertone radios.
Page 844 - Automobile radios.
Page 848 - 4½-volt "A" batteries.
Page 851 - Vacuum tube price comparison.
Page 836 - Radio-phonographs.
Page 840 - Compact radios.
Page 841C - New "Stratobeam Reception."
Page 845 - Radio antennas and installation kits.
Page 849 - "A," "B," and "C" batteries for portable radios.
Posted November 21, 2019