My Collection of Vintage Radios


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RCA (John Vassos)


Note: Move the mouse pointer over an image to view an enlarged and/or alternate photo.

1936 RCA 9K10 Console

This 9-tube console (including a 6E5 tuning eye.tube) is quite rare.

It has five bands - standard broadcast, long wave, medium wave, short wave and ultra short wave bands.

About 183 were produced -- the price was $175.

The five control knobs are 1) Music-Speech-Off, 2) Volume, 3) Station Tuning, 4) Range Selector, and 5) Full Fidelity--tone.

The RCA 9K10 uses the same chassis as the RCA 9K2 console and RCA 9T table model (see photo below).

RCA 9K10 With Ebony Finish

A couple of years ago, a radio collector offered for sale an RCA 9K10 in an ebony finish.

1936 Technology Features

The radio features RCA's Magic Brain, Magic Eye, Metal Tubes, and Magic Voice features:

Magic Brain - This is a sub-chassis used on some RCA high-end all-wave receivers. It used three metal tube types intended to improve performance, especially short wave coverage.

Magic Eye - This is a 6E5 tuning tube used on some high-end consoles. The tube glows with a soft green light indicating that the radio is properly tuned to a station.

Metal Tubes - These metal tubes were "sealed in steel." They were advertised as quieter, self shielding, uniform,.and designed to produce better reception--especially for short wave programs.

Magic Voice - This consists of five vertical steel tubes of various lengths used to enrich the tones of the speaker chamber. The speaker chamber was sealed with a back panel to increase the bass.

Knobs

Knobs for this radio are a bit different -- the "'pinch" style knobs have a chrome insert to complement the chrome frame and accents of the radio cabinet.

Cabinet Design

The 9K10 cabinet was designed by John Vassos (1898-1985) who was a busy designer of deco items in the 1930s. Vassos also designed a smaller RCA console radio (model 6K10) and RCA tabletop radio (model 6T10, 8T10, 8T11 and 10T11), as well as the 1939 line of RCA televisions. His industrial design contributions at RCA spanned over 40 years.

Early Radios Used in Hollywood Movies: Below are two photos from The Hit Parade (1937 with Frances Langford and Phil Regan produced by Republic Pictures) showing an RCA 9K10 radio in a couple of scenes.

 

1936 RCA 6K10 Console

This 6-tube console has three bands - broadcast, long wave, and short wave.

The 6K10 radio is similar to RCA model 8K11 except that model 8K11 has a 6E5 tuning eye tube.

Radio Dial

Cabinet Design

The RCA 6K10 radio uses the same chassis as the 1936 RCA model 6K2 console and 6T2 table model (as seen in the photo below).

Things I Don’t Know About RCA John Vassos Radios

  • Were Vassos tubular-chrome radios a bit radical for 1936, or were these radio designs in keeping with the modern, streamlined, and chic Corbusier chairs, car interiors, and home décor designs of the mid-1930s?
  • Were Vassos tubular-chrome radios produced for the public (I haven’t found any catalog or magazine advertisements)? Or, were they produced solely for exhibits, displays, and/or gifts to RCA executives?
  • How much did they cost compared to comparable non-Vassos RCA radios (for example, an RCA 6K10 compared to an RCA 6K2)?
  • Were they displayed at the 1939 World’s Fair (along with the Vassos line of RCA televisions)? If so, I haven’t found any photos showing such an exhibit. And, the 1936 Vassos radios pre-date the fair.
  • Did John Vassos continue to design RCA radios during 1937 – 1940? Or, did he only supervise the design of other RCA radios or simply inspire other designers based on his previous works?
  • How many of the Vassos tubular-chrome radios survive today? And, how many were produced in 1936?

 

1936 RCA 10T11 Table Radio

This 10-tube table "Magic Brain" radio has five bands - standard broadcast, long wave, medium wave, short wave and ultra short wave bands.

The five control knobs are 1) Music-Speech-Off, 2) Volume, 3) Station Tuning, 4) Range Selector, and 5) Full Fidelity--tone.

This is a large radio -- almost 26" tall and 21" wide. Based on size and tube count, this was the top-of-the-line RCA table radio.

It uses the same chassis as the RCA models 10T and 10K - see photo below).

Knobs and Grill Cloth

My RCA 10T11 radio is slowly being restored -- chassis and cabinet. I used a similar speaker grill cloth (I could not find an exact match) and may substitue chrome insert tuning knobs (which I prefer) for the original white insert knobs.

Original Owner

The original owner of this RCA 10T11 radio lived in Istanbul, Turkey where the radio spent about nine months each year in the family's main house and about three months each year in the family's summer home on Buyukada Island. (Each summer, the family packed and moved their refrigerator, radio, and phonograph with them on the two-hour boat trip to their summer home on the island.) The original owner's son moved the radio to his home in Paris, France in the mid-1980s where it remained until I purchased it.

RCA John Vassos 8T10, 6T10 and 8T11 Table Radios

The RCA 10T11 radio is similar to the RCA model 8T10 except for the tube count and some minor styling differences (see photo below that I borrowed from the radiomuseum site).

In 1936, RCA and designer John Vassos also made a different "chrome-cradle" deco table radio - the model 6T10 and 8T11 (see photo below).

Production quantities for these models were low (I don't know why) and the number of surviving models is even lower (perhaps a handful of each model).

By 1939, Vassos-designed radio styles for RCA were still distinctive, but quite different from the earlier "chrome-cradle" models. See photo below of RCA 5Q56 and RCA 96X radios.

John Vassos

Industrial designer John Vassos (1898 to 1985) worked for RCA for many years.

He is credited with some of the best deco-designed RCA radios as well as the 1939 RCA television cabinets (and the 1946 RCA 621 tabletop TV).

John Vassos said his favorite color was chrome.

A quick Google search of his work shows all kinds of items including a piano, subway turnstile, portable phonograph, and so on.

 

RCA “Special” Model M Portable Phonograph

This phonograph (designed by John Vassos) was made around 1938 (give or take a year). It likely was displayed in the RCA exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. John Vassos also designed several RCA televisions and radios during this time.

Only a small quantity of these phonographs were produced, and very few have survived.

Model Variations

There are three model variations:

  • Model L has a polished aluminum interior and trimmings and a green or red leatherette case covering (see photo below).
  • Model K has a polished aluminum interior and exterior.
  • Model M has a polished aluminum interior with red or black accents and an aluminum exterior. It may have used a different Burgess battery pack than the Model K.

Turntable and Tonearm

The 78 rpm turntable on the phonograph has a double-spring wind-up motor. It can play three 10-inch 78s on one winding. The tonearm has a crystal cartridge that uses a standard Victrola steel needle (which is sometimes replaced by a sapphire needle to reduce record wear). Near the front of the phonograph are two built-in compartments; one for new steel needles and one for used steel needles (see photo below).

Power Amp and Batteries

The audio component uses a battery-powered 3-tube amp and an oval speaker mounted on the front of the aluminum case. The original Burgess battery packs are no longer made – they have been replaced with packs of ten 9-volt and four C batteries The type and quantity of batteries appears to vary depending on who restored the phonograph.


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