Looking for a working Bakelite radio in the U.S
November 28, 2013 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Aside from the standard stops ( etsy, eBay, etc ) where should I be looking to find a breadbox-sized, working radio from the 1930s-40s? Ideally Bakelite but not a deal breaker. Ideally shipping from the U.S? A period shell over modern electronics/cords is fine.
posted by The Whelk to Shopping (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

There are a zillion nice ones on eBay. I would probably go there. There should be a lot of restored ones on there as well. Otherwise you could post a want ad on Craigslist, but you'll probably have to wade through a lot of people offering junk.
posted by Slinga at 9:06 AM on November 28, 2013

The Radio Attic has tons, but as Dr. Zira implied, once you start going off the mass-market places you're going to start paying collectors' prices, particularly if you want one that's been restored to working order. Best to stick with eBay, IMHO.
posted by mykescipark at 9:10 AM on November 28, 2013

Depends on what you seek and why.

Just about any neighborhood will yield one if you ask. Bakelite is mostly brownish. It's a thermoset plastic, that uses heat to fuse and solidify a powder, and I've only ever seen what I conclusively ID as Bakelite in brown.

Catalin was the milk-based colorful plastic of the 50's, IIRC. The best are snapped up. The worst, missing pieces, chunks, knobs, and style.

90% of these old sets were based on two or three major designs and it's not hard to resurrect one. you can go that route if aesthetics are more important. if you want listening quality, or longevity, those are different issues. if it's a theatrical prop, or you don't care how WELL it works, again, different set of issues.

ebay does have hundreds and a lot are 'working', but for how long? how spendy?

want suggestions on brands/models?

Oh, and I make my own, post-industrial styles mashed up with art deco, distress wood, steel copper, copper wire, etc. with bluetooth innards.
posted by FauxScot at 10:07 AM on November 28, 2013

Be careful, buying these can be addictive!

eBay will give you the greatest selection. You might include "works" or "working" in your search terms, because it's not the norm for radios from 65+ years ago. "Restored" would get you something likely to work for a longer period, but that implies a higher price.

In NYC, visit Waves on 25th Street. I haven't had the pleasure, and don't know how many of their radios are working vs not. But it looks like a wonderful place to browse.
posted by Snerd at 10:16 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Find and scour an antique mall in the midwest. You can get working bakelite radios here for $25.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 10:19 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Find where your nearest hamfest/ radio flea market would be. There will be someone selling them there.
posted by scruss at 10:31 AM on November 28, 2013

Again assuming you're in NYC, if you don't mind getting up early this Sunday (or the first Sunday of any month), the Greater NY Vintage Wireless Association is having a swap meet at the Seaford, NY Long Island Rail Road Station parking lot. Past meeting photos will give you an idea what they'll have.
posted by Snerd at 11:11 AM on November 28, 2013

« Older Toilet flush runs constantly after flush...   |   Returning a car to Seatac with a lot of luggage to... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.