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Vintage Radio

Radiograms first came into being in the late 1920s and were produced in various formats up into the 1960s. During that time, they evolved from very basic units with a record playing mechanism on the top of the cabinet to units that had changers alongside the radio section. Some of the very latest units also included a TV set and/or a tape recorder and some even had a cocktail cabinet.

The 5-band A8551 was probably the most up-market monophonic radiogram produced by STC. It dates from the mid 1950s and as can be seen from the photos, it is quite a big unit.

In terms of construction, it is basically a large rectangular box with ball & claw feet on it. It is a beautiful piece of furniture and the owner of this magnificent deluxe radiogram, Peter Henstridge (see last month’s Vintage Radio), is to be congratulated for the quality of the cabinet restoration.

A feature of the cabinet is that the doors can fold right back alongside the end panels, so that they are out of the way when the radiogram is in use. When closed, the speaker grill is still visible so that the set can continue operating without the sound being muffled.

The size of the cabinet and the thickness of the timber mean that two strong people are required to move the unit around. The 12-inch (305mm) twin-cone speaker is housed in a sealed enclosure and this, along with the heavy timber construction, has been designed to ensure good sound quality. A plywood panel covers the back of the unit and the cables between the record changer and radio chassis run along a shelf at the back – see photo.

A Collaro 3-speed record changer is mounted at the top lefthand end of the cabinet. This unit comes in cream and maroon, which matches the finish of the cabinet. The radio receiver and its associated control panel are to the right, along with the switches for the various functions. Below the record changer and radio are two compartments for storing records.

The receiver itself is much more elaborate than used in run-of-the-mill radiograms. It tunes both the broadcast band and a shortwave band from 4.8-15.6MHz. It also has three bandspread international shortwave bands, these being the 31, 25 & 19 metre bands.

Six controls are located on the front of the receiver, on either side of the dial scale. Starting from top left, there are Treble, Bass and Volume controls, while the controls from top right are Tuning, Wave Band (five positions) and Selector (three positions).

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