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Sparton Table Radio

Decorative Arts

On View: Great Hall, Southwest, 1st 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.
MANUFACTURER Sparks-Withington Co.
MEDIUM Glass, metal, wood, rubber
  • Place Manufactured: Jackson, Michigan, United States
  • DATES ca. 1936
    DIMENSIONS 8 3/4 x 17 1/2 x 8 3/8 in. (22.2 x 44.5 x 21.3 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS 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"
    SIGNATURE no signature
    INSCRIPTIONS no inscriptions
    COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Great Hall, Southwest, 1st floor
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 83.158
    CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by the Walter Foundation
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION 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_transp3685.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 83.158_transp3685.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION "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. CONDITION: Good.
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