I asked Kevin Poulter, President of the Historical Radio Society of Australia, if many people simply replaced the innards of such old radios with modern electronics. Some did, he admitted, but a more common activity is to add a Bluetooth receiver, using the historical amplifier circuitry. Still, there’s no reason why an enthusiast couldn’t sell retro-styled, and “Retro” branded radios, albeit ones with Bluetooth, modern radio tuners and a digital clock:
Historical Radio Safety
Here are two rows of Kreisler radios – most definitely not for sale. The back row is from the late 1940s, the front from the early 1950s. Each row consists of the same models, but the coloured ones are rarer and more expensive. Indeed, they cost extra back in the day, which is why they are rarer. The front row models are marketed as “Sealed”.
Sealed? Why sealed? Well, let’s look at the back of some of those early radios:
Ah, ever so inviting to little fingers! Pity about the high voltages in there.
Of course, also on display were a number of record players, most of them early period pieces. One of the most interesting was this 1898 Berliner Gramophone. It was one of the first with a spring-driven motor. This precise unit was already an antique when it was presented to popular Australian baritone singer Peter Dawson in 1948. As it happens, when I was a child my family had a number of Peter Dawson 78s which we played from time to time on a Kreisler phonogram.
And amongst the most intriguing things at the display were a type of speaker I’ve never seen before. They were off-board speakers for radios and phonos, but remarkably stylish, often with some kind of artwork over the front. The trick to making them stylish was to put the workings – the magnet and coils assembly, in front of the cone, instead of behind it as is now the norm.