The ‘golden age of radio’ may be gone, but antique radios are still going strong. Whether you’re interested in a specific manufacturer (RCA, Philco, Zenith, Crosley, Emerson) or style (catalin, transistor, cathedral or console), there’s a radio out there for you.
You can identify most antique radios by model number, which can include any combination of letters and numbers. If you don't see a manufacturer's name, look inside the chassis, as it may be stamped on the tubes or other components.
The earliest radios were typically bare components (e.g. glass tubes) mounted on a board. Later came plain wooden or metal boxes, and by the late 1920s, elaborate cabinets designed to look like real furniture. Cathedral and tombstone style wooden cabinets were popular during the 1930s. And Art Deco style radios made of Bakelite, Catalin and other early resins or plastics (Plaskon, Beetle, etc) became popular during the 1930s and 1940s. Transistors were introduced in 1957, displacing tubes and enabling miniaturization.
Although you may be able to play an unrestored antique radio, note that its capacitors are likely to fail without warning (and may also pose a fire hazard), so replacing them pre-emptively is advisable.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Jim's Antique Radio Museum
The Radio Attic's Archives
Phil's Old Radios
Clubs & Associations
- Mid-Atlantic Antique Radio Club
- Antique Wireless Association
- Southeastern Antique Radio Society
- New Jersey Antique Radio Club
- British Vintage Wireless Society
- California Historical Radio Society