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Your ‘Must Have’ Vintage Radios!

1960s Roberts R200 Transistor Portable Radio

Your ‘Must Have’ Vintage Radios!

Why is there a revival in Retro Vintage Radios? And when I say vintage, I mean 20th Century!

Well, to be honest for me the answer is easy. Yes, you can have a tiny iPod, (which are very handy and a genius of technology and engineering, but I mislay mine constantly due to it’s size!), but you can’t really beat a vintage radio for both substance and style. There are so many to choose from and, yes, some of the most iconic names were actually ‘Made in Britain!’ Even more amazing!

2MT

On the 14th February 1922, Captain Peter Eckersley, a Marconi Engineer, broadcast the first wireless entertainment programme at 2MT,  Writtle, Chelmsford, Essex, UK.

2MT was the first British radio station to make regular entertainment broadcasts, and first in the world for regular wireless entertainment.

His regular announcement was “This is Two Emma Toc, Writtle testing, Writtle testing.”

Most of us will never have heard of 2MT, but its sister station, 2LO, which began transmitting from Marconi House on the Strand in London on 11th May 1922, led to the formation of the BBC.

Wireless radio entertainment had entered people’s home and was there to stay!

Style

1930s

Early battery powered radios were pretty huge, as they comprised electrical circuits composed of thermionic valves, and large capacitors and resistors.  Even non-portable radios were mostly powered by  a pair of rechargeable accumulators as many houses did not have a mains electrical supply.

This is a great photo from the 1930s of a young lady with her ‘portable’ radio!

 

There are some very pretty, and highly sought after, Bakelite  and wooden cased radios from the 1930s, as shown in the images below.

1940s

The late 1930s and 1940s also produced some very interesting designs! The brown bakelite and wood of the 1920s and early 30s makes way for the wonderful colours in Catalin, especially in America and Australia.   Chrome accents were popular and used extensively too. If you are lucky to find any of these radios in good condition, you will be parting with quite a lot of money!

1950s

It wasn’t until after WW2, and the advent of the transistor in 1947, did radio really take off. People had more expendable income, radios were seen as props in cult films and used by famous actors, and it was the era of ‘Rock and Roll.’ This all added up to the ‘baby boomers’ being desperate to try out new radio design and technology.

The radio manufacturers increased output throughout the World, particularly in the Far East, with the rise of the brands such as Sony and Sanyo in Japan. Many companies were falling over themselves to come up with better, cheaper or novelty items, as seen in the selection of images below!

The Regency TR-1 was the first portable transistor radio to be sold in 1954. It was the result of a collaboration between two companies: Texas Instruments, Dallas, Texas, and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (I.D.E.A.), Indianapolis, Indiana. It was quite small and could be held in the hand: I think the iPod has a similar look!

 

After the 1950s, the design and number of manufacturers of radios soared. That was until the 1980s, which saw the advent of the boom box radio, which you would hardly describe as portable, quickly followed by the introduction of DAB radio in 1997!

A selection of vintage radios 1960-1990

Then came the arrival of digital technology, DAB, and data streaming. It looked like the traditional radio had reached the end of its life but that wasn’t the case. Then came the ‘Revival’!

In 1990, a Martini advert featured the iconic Roberts R200 ‘Handbag’ radio. People clamoured to buy one, so much so that Roberts introduced a ‘Revival’ of their much loved radio but using the new DAB technology, with internals sourced from the Far East, and a much cheapened cabinet construction. These retro radios are still popular today but its more about the sound, the look and the history that keeps people interested!

I hope I have given you a flavour of ‘ Your Must Have Vintage Radios‘ and why I think there has been a rise in popularity of ‘retro’ radio. The images of the radios speak for themselves!

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A Meander Around Wade Pottery, Ceramics and Earthenware

1976 World of Survival Series Wade England Polar Bear

A Meander Around Wade Pottery, Ceramics and Earthenware

When you think of Wade pottery, many of us would probably think of Wade Whimsies (unless you are a Wade collector) but I think that is a real shame. In fact, Wade have produced industrial ceramics, and some wonderful porcelain and earthenware objets d’art over the years.

Wade Ceramics Limited, Staffordshire, UK, is a pottery established in 1810 and still manufacturing today at a brand new factory only opened in 2010. When first founded, the company actually comprised several companies, established by different members of the Wade extended family, eventually uniting to form Wade Potteries Limited in the 1950s.

Wade Whimsies

As I have already mentioned, Wade are best known, in the UK and USA, for creating and manufacturing Whimsies from 1954: small porcelain animal figurines, which were low priced and highly collectable.

1950s Wade Whimsies 1st Series Poodle
1950s Wade Whimsies 1st Series Poodle

 

I am one of many people whom, as child, set out to collect as many different whimsies as my pocket money and Saturday job would allow me to buy!  This hobby didn’t stretch to my adulthood- I was a student for 7 years and money didn’t reach that far!

Some of the older and rarer (pre-1970s) whimsies are increasing significantly in value and worth £20-40 each, if in good condition and boxed.

Wade Range of Ceramics

But… Wade also produced a wide range of eclectic and wonderfully detailed ornaments, tea services, and face masks, in all shapes and sizes, including:-

  • Cartoon and disney characters,
  • Birds and animals of all types
  • Famous people
  • Characters from the literary, film, opera, and music world
  • Nursery rhyme characters
  • Advertising wares (including Scotch Whisky decanters)

This Wade pin dish features quite a racy looking Queen of Hearts!

1960s Wade Pottery Queen of Hearts Pin Dish
1960s Wade Pottery Queen of Hearts Pin Dish

 

Jessie Van Hallen

One of the most famous designers at Wade, and contemporary to Clarice Cliff, was Jessie Van Hallen. There is a fascinating blog about her on the Wade Collectors Club website, written by David Chown. I especially love her 1938 version of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ figurines, which were produced with support from Disney, and sold for £1.00 a set and now worth considerably more!

 

Jessie Van Hallen’s Snow White Collection

 

Wade Collectibles

These small but detailed 1950s yachts sit nicely on my bathroom wall.  They were actually ‘Made in Ireland’ at the Wade (Ulster) Ltd factory established in the 1930s by Colonel Sir George Wade. This factory closed in the 1990s. We are missing the smallest yacht in the set of three but I’m still looking!

Irish Wade Yachts

 

This little basket was also made by Wade under their ‘Noveltio’ brand.

Vintage Wade Noveltio Straw Effect Pottery Basket
Vintage Wade Noveltio Straw Effect Pottery Basket

Wade were commissioned by ‘Survival Anglia Limited’ to produce some animal figurines based on their popular TV Series ‘The World of Survival’. Two series of figurines were produced between 1976 and 1982.

1976 World of Survival Series Wade England Polar Bear
1976 World of Survival Series Wade England Polar Bear

The polar bear is from the first series. All of the animal figurines are highly prized.

Back Marks

Don’t forget to check those back marks! Antique Marks has a very good pictorial representation of the key marks used at the various Wade UK and the Ulster factories. There have been many copies and reproductions of Wade but few can compare with the original, unless made from the same mould. Wade and a few other companies have reproduced limited editions of some of the vintage items, using the original moulds, but these are clearly marked.

If you are interested in collecting Wade, then the Wade Collector’s Club website is an excellent source of information. We also have on or two vintage pieces for sale on our website and in our Etsy shop.

 

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Vintage Technology, Gizmos and Gadgets

Vintage Technology, Gizmos and Gadgets

Vintage Technology, Gizmos and Gadgets

Well, what a rotten summer we have had here in the UK. No wonder many of us like to pack our suitcases and head for sunnier climes! Instead, I’m sat here writing a blog for you on Vintage Technology, Gizmos and Gadgets, looking at the rain out of the window!

However, there are those of us whom actually prefer, instead of soaking up the sun sat on a beach, to spend time at museums or adding to our collection of eclectic museum worthy objects! OK, this does happen to be mainly menfolk, for many of whom the thought of a beach holiday causes them to shiver from the boredom and, in my other half’s case, the expense! (He is from the county of Yorkshire in the UK, known for their tendency to be a bit loathe to part with their cash!) But it isn’t just the gentlemen whom like their weird and wonderful objects, some of us Ladies are getting involved in this collecting trend too!

The Weather

Now I wouldn’t be British if I didn’t at least mention the weather in a blog about vintage technology, gizmos and gadgets!

I happen to be a scientist by trade and get totally fed up with TV ‘Weather Forecasts.’ You wake up expecting a nice warm day, look out of the window and it’s so dark outside you think you have woken up in the middle of the night! Where’s that sun they promised me today?

I bought a vintage barometer for home use. Its stylish, better looking than the average TV weather forecaster and more accurate!

Vintage F Darton Metal case Thermo Barograph
Vintage F Darton Metal case Thermo Barograph

 

Let’s face it, there are some fantastic weird and wonderful objects out there for us to collect. Too many to list but lots to suit individual tastes.

Some remind us of a visit to a museum from childhood or we work in an industry/ business where technology has changed over the decades and we like to collect pieces of kit that were used in an earlier age.

Then there are those whom love the design and engineering behind the kit. Some of which we can no longer use but they make great talking points in the man cave or she den.

Early Communication, Post Office and Telegraph

These wonderful early communication devices are pre-mobile phones, extremely tactile, made from wood and brass, and well engineered! Great objects for the Man cave!

 

 

Other gizmos may have been superseded by modern technology but look great as home decor or a talking point at a dinner party!

In fact, a friend of ours collects vintage tools and, after a few too many glasses of wine, proceeded to empty his large and heavy tool box on to the vintage oak dinner party dining table. He then had a game of ‘Guess what this tool was used for?’ and explained their use to us in great detail (good job we’d also had a glass of wine or two!). Needless to say his wife did not share his enthusiasm, with oil and additional scratches to her beautifully french polished table! We, however, had a wonderful time!

Medical

Then other gadgets are just for those whom love the history or are just ghouls! Have you seen some of those pieces of old medical and dentist kit that look more like torture instruments? Shudder! But a great talking point all the same. My other half has an old leather dentist chair, which he loves. Need I say any more!

 

Militaria

Who wouldn’t like to own a gadget that was used in a WW2 submarine or a piece of the Titanic? Wow, just think that Leonardo DiCaprio may have touched that piece of wood- sigh! Sorry folks, that wasn’t the real Titanic just a Hollywood dream!

 

They don’t make them like they used too! That’s true and it is mainly a positive. Where would we be today if it wasn’t for innovation and advancement in technology but…

Bakelite

The styling and composition of some of the old technology is amazing. Just take a look at these items made of Bakelite. One of the first plastics available in the 19th Century. If you don’t know what it is, have a read of this blog.

 

 

It almost doesn’t matter what the gizmos and gadgets were used for but the fact that people collect these items means that they are preserved for our future generations and for that reason alone I say keep on collecting!

If you are interested in collecting vintage technology then please click on the following link.

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Ladies Love The Mullard Valve Tester!

Mullard Valve Tester

Ladies Love The Mullard Valve Tester!

I asked Mr Mullard Antiques to write me a guest blog about Women working, in what was traditionally seen as a Man’s role, in the 1950s. I was a little bit worried, give Steve this level of freedom and who knows what he would write! Anyway, I’m pleasantly surprised! Thank you, Mullard Magicfor this lighthearted look at Women working at the Mullard Valve factory in the 1950s. Great images!

According to Mullard (the manufacturer’s of thermionic valve products), ‘The Mullard High Speed Valve Tester was so simple to use anyone could use it’.  Mullard made much of this in contemporary journals, and here we see a photo from one of them in which a young lady is delicately using a beastly Mullard High Speed Valve Tester.

But let’s put sexist stereotypes aside for a moment and look instead at the reality of valve testing at Mullard in the 1950s – did you know that at the Mullard Service Department at Waddon, the majority of staff were ‘Women’ yes, really, and to prove it here, below,  I have photos of Doris Saxilby valve testing in the  Waddon labs.

Did you also know that at all times, when returned valves were actually on test, manualy dextrous operators such as these two pictured would be lightly tapping the valve with a leather covered hammer to reveal any intermittent faults. Just goes to show that the ‘fairer sex’ were actually much better at testing than their male counterparts!

Her best friend and bridesmaid, Mildred Dallymer can be seen in this photo checking for interelectrode shorts.

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Who were Bretby Art Pottery and Tooth & Co?

Vintage Bretby Art Pottery Nursery Rhyme Bookends Models 3262 and 3263

Who were Bretby Art Pottery and Tooth & Co?

Bretby Art Pottery was started in 1882 by Henry Tooth and William Ault. The company was actually known as Tooth & Co. Ltd.

Tooth and Ault designed and built their own pottery in Woodville, Derbyshire. Manufacturing began on 25 October 1883.

They entered the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1884 and won a gold award. Not a bad result for a first attempt! The famous ‘Sunburst’ trade mark was registered in the same year.

Breathy Sunburst Mark
Bretby Sunburst Trade Mark

The partnership was dissolved on 1 January 1887 when William Ault set up his own pottery Ault & Co in Midland Road, Swadlincote.

Tooth & Co. produced both inexpensive pressed wares, and more expensive art pottery, in a variety of shapes and sizes from large jardiniere (1-2 meters) to trinkets. They also tried to emulate other types of surfaces e.g. metals such as pewter and copper, but using ceramic.  The range of objects manufactured was also huge, not just vases but famous figures, flora, fauna and bamboo-style decorative pieces.

There are a few examples in the images below. Their designs are quite distinctive and very tactile.

I especially love their 1930s ‘Kitchen Kupboard’  Bretby Ware. It is very similar to Cornish Ware made by T.G.Green, which I have collected over the years!

Bretby Kitchen Kupboard Advert

Bretby also produced a range called Clanta or Clanta Ware

Bretby remained part of the Tooth family until 1933. After WW2 they became known as Tooth and Company Limited, Bretby Art Pottery.

From the 1950s, Bretby moved into industrial pottery before finally closing in about 1996.

Backmarks for Bretby with the iconic sunburst.

Back Marks include the familiar rising sun over the name BRETBY (1884), and HT for Henry Tooth used from 1883-1900. Made in England is only found on 20th Century examples. The impressed mark usually includes the pattern/ Design number.

Year      Design number(s)
in use in that year

1891             917
1896            1065 – 1095
1897            1116
1898            1222
1907            1678
1908            1790
1911             1852
1924            2326 – 2701
1929            2985 – 3045

However, Bretby used the same moulds over several years, and reused them several times in years much later than their original registration. This makes Bretby very difficult to date!

The Clanta and Clanta Ware impressed marks were introduced in 1914.

The following images show the Bretby sunburst impression and design number.

The former Bretby Art Pottery building has been recently acquired by the Derbyshire based ‘The Heritage Trust’ . 

According to their website:-

We hope to find a sustainable new use that retains links to the pottery industry that once thrived in the area and using funding from The Architectural Heritage we are currently undertaking a project viability study.

Let’s hope they are successful in their endeavours and provide a fitting tribute to Bretby and Tooth & Co.

Please click on the following link for Bretby products available on our website.

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