Sparton Table Radio
Decorative Arts and Design
On View: Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor
Although experiments with the notion of wireless communication date back to the mid-nineteenth century, the first radio transmission in the United States occurred in 1920. New technology required new forms, and as the household radio rapidly gained in popularity throughout the twenties and thirties, many designers devised different shapes and styles. Walter Dorwin Teague’s radios from the mid-1930s are among the most iconic early radio designs. Their streamlined, curving, silhouettes epitomize the Art Moderne, or Art Deco, style that began about 1925. The striking blue mirrored glass that clads this radio was a clever use of a preexisting material to add to the radio’s novelty and sense of newness.
Glass, metal, wood, rubber
8 3/4 x 17 1/2 x 8 3/8 in. (22.2 x 44.5 x 21.3 cm) (show scale)
Paper label applied to tube base / transformer inside radio: "SPARTON / MADE IN U.S.A. / A-C RECEIVER MODEL 557 / TYPE 517 CHASSIS / LICENSED UNDER R.C.A. PATENTS / 115 VOLTS 60 CYCLES 60 WATTS / THE SPARKS-WITHINGTON CO. / JACKSON, MICHIGAN. U.S.A. / A-6"
Purchased with funds given by the Walter Foundation
"Sparton" table radio in the shape of a rectangular box, covered in blue glass entirely on the top and partially on the front proper right side. Flat, black wood surface with three applied wood bands runs from middle of proper right side to opposite end of underside, raising box and serving as a base. The front with three wooden knobs with inlaid metal rings, a square dial face, five horizontal incisions into glass that continue as applied chromed bands to proper left side of front. The bands curve over the black wood surface that entirely covers the proper left side and terminate at the rear. The rear of the radio entirely open, revealing tubes, speaker, and other electrical parts.
Sparks-Withington Co.. Sparton Table Radio, ca. 1936. Glass, metal, wood, rubber, 8 3/4 x 17 1/2 x 8 3/8 in. (22.2 x 44.5 x 21.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by the Walter Foundation, 83.158. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 83.158_detail_SL4.jpg)
detail, 83.158_detail_SL4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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