Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1932 Vintage Revere Junior Cathedral Radio

A 1932 Revere Junior cathedral radio (Photograph Gary Deacon).

Apart from dxing, I have an interest in vintage radios from the early 1930's to late 1950's - a time when families used to gather around in the evening to listen to the news or their special radio show. (Photographs of my radio collection from a bygone era are available here).

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a rare Revere Junior cathedral radio during a visit to an antique shop in Cape Town last week.

A close-up of the decorative escutcheon and tuning display.

Vintage cathedral-style radios are very hard to find in South Africa so I consider myself fortunate to have discovered one - and a real gem it is too. The radio is in good condition with an original factory finish. The pleasing cabinet design is simple yet elegant with the original decorative escutcheon, wooden speaker grill pattern and original wooden knobs which add to the charm of this set from a bygone era.

All the electronic components are intact apart from a missing valve. Aside from a few minor chips and scratches with some damage to the speaker and grill cloth, the cathedral radio looks really good after an initial repair and clean-up, especially considering its been around for nearly 80 years!

Another close-up of the escutcheon and tuning display - before and after the initial clean-up.

The Revere Radio Corporation was situated in Ashland, Ohio, U.S.A. and produced radios for a brief duration - from 1930 to 1932.


Cathedral tabletop radios were popular during the Depression due to their affordability (their shape required less material to make) and became icons of pre-war America. The 'cathedral' title refers to the design (the top and front resembled the ornate facades of European cathedrals). The style was short lived, however, with the majority produced between the mid 1920s and early 1930s.

A 1931 Philco 90 cathedral radio - A remarkable example of one of the most famous and widely recognized vintage radios of all times (Photograph courtesy of Scott Robinson via Wikimedia Commons).


Apart from the production of the Revere Junior cathedral radio, the year 1932 saw a number of significant happenings in radio broadcasting history.

March 1 – Both NBC and CBS go to Hopewell, New Jersey to provide live coverage of the Lindbergh kidnapping.

March 24 – A radio variety show is broadcast from a moving train for the first time, when Belle Baker hosts a show on a train traveling around the New York area. It was broadcast on the New York City station WABC. She talked first about the weather then, about local news regarding home-towns or stations of the train with the radio.

14 May – The BBC moves into its new headquarters, Broadcasting House in London.

The Art Deco style of Broadcasting House in London (Photograph Wikimedia Ccommons).

26 May – The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act is passed, providing for the establishment of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission.

1 July – Following nationalization of the Australian Broadcasting Company, the Australian Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons, officially inaugurates transmissions from the twelve stations of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, forerunner of today's Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

19 December – The BBC Empire Service (ancestor of the BBC World Service) begins transmissions.

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