Enthusiasts who collect and
restore antiques often specialise in a certain area and vintage radio buffs are no different. They may be interested almost exclusively in early crystal sets for example, or their interests might involve pre-valve equipment, early breadboard radios, coffin-style radios, consoles, radiograms, PA amplifiers, TV sets (both b&w and colour) or radio communications equipment.
Alternatively, they might be interested in reel-to-reel tape recorders, car radios, valve and early transistor portables, mantel receivers, console sets, radiograms or “combo” units that have a TV, radio receiver, turntable and perhaps even a tape recorder all in one cabinet. Some enthusiasts even concentrate on just collecting valves or other specialised items and some even go to the trouble of building replicas if the original equipment is no longer available.
However, it’s the mantel receivers (both pre-war and post-war) that are the most likely to be collected. The main reasons for this are that they are small (which makes them easy to display), they are relatively common and they are usually easy to restore.
By contrast, some categories of our radio/TV heritage have not proved popular with collectors for a variety of reasons. For example, B&W valve TV receivers are considered difficult to restore and are given a wide berth by most vintage radio collectors. Most collectors are simply not familiar with the technology and picture tube availability is very limited, as is the availability of some other specialised parts.
Another area that is receiving little attention is radiograms and other combination units with TV sets and reel-to-reel tape recorders built into a single cabinet. The bulk of the equipment is the main issue here but the increased complexity of such equipment compared to mantel receivers also turns many collectors away.
This photo shows Peter's Healing 501E console following restoration. Despite its age, the cabinet was in good order.
A view inside the Healing 501E before work commenced. It required little work to get it going again.
The Radiogram Bloke
Fortunately, not everyone is put off by radiograms and combination units. In fact, these are the very types of sets that vintage radio enthusiast Peter Henstridge from Adelaide has chosen to collect and restore.