You probably are aware that major retail
corporations like Sears Roebuck &
Co. and Montgomery
Ward (aka "Wards") contracted with established appliance manufacturers to
create their own brands for sale in their mail order catalogs and brick-and-mortar
stores. Sears had their Kenmore line of kitchen (also Cold Spot) and laundry
products, Craftsman line of tools, and Silvertone line of radios. Wards had
the Signature line of appliances, Powr Kraft tools, and Airline radios. Both
companies are basically defunct at this point. I was always a big Sears customer,
and was sad to see them get scuttled by moron management. Montgomery Ward products
all seemed second rate compared to Sears. My workshop is full of Craftsman tools
(hand tools and power tools) and only a couple from Wards. Montgomery Ward,
founded in 1872 closed its last stores in 2001, but unknown to most people is
that they still have an Internet presence as
wards.com. Sears Roebuck & Co., founded
in 1892, still has a few stores open and is online at
Anyhoo, I ran across this
1924 Montgomery Ward Radio catalog that is chock full of not just plug and
play console and tabletop models, but also many kits and thousands of electronics
parts for building and repairing your own radio. It is on the Archive.org website
and can be downloaded, or you can peruse the contents online.
A radio enthusiast, of which there were many back in the day, could find
components in hardware stores, drug stores, and department stores (including
Montgomery Ward). If you read some of the books written for teenagers in the
early to middle 1900s, they often contained features where the boys (and sometimes
girls) engage in radio building and operating activities.
My partial collection of "Radio Boys" book series by Allen
Chapman in the 1920s is an excellent example. It centers around a group of four
teenage boys - Bob, Joe, Herb, and Jimmy (aka "Donuts") - who discovered the
miracle of radio and set about to learn all they could about it, and eventually
with the guidance of a local preacher who was a radio master, built their own
receiver. Adventure and intrigue build throughout the books as they solve mysteries,
assist law enforcement and government agencies, perform acts of community service,
and through dialog teach the reader a little about radio theory and operation
- all while continually needing to contend with a local clutch of bullies whose
jealousy of the Radio Boys' success drives them to attempt the thwarting of
their efforts. I am currently reading "The Radio
Boys with the Forest Rangers." BTW, there is also a "Radio Girls" series by Margaret
Penrose, of which I own only two.
Below are examples of some content from the 1924 Montgomery Ward Radio catalog.
Radio is rapidly becoming a necessary part of our business and social life.
Nearly 6 00 powerful broadcasting stations costing up to $100,000 each, operated
by the United States government, universities, churches, newspapers and private
corporations, are broadcasting entertainment, news, educational and religious
features daily. It is all free. Information that formerly took days or weeks
to reach dwellers in remote places, is now available by radio almost instantly.
The correct time, weather forecasts and market reports are broadcast from many
places; and with the proper apparatus, can be heard daily almost anywhere. With
Ward's equipment, radio reception has been so simplified that anyone can operate
easily and successfully the radio receiving sets shown in this catalogue.
No Experience Needed - Anyone Can Use It: The Ultra Airline is a high
grade vacuum tube Receiving Set perfected until it is so simple that anyone
can set it up and use it successfully anywhere. No previous radio experience
is needed. This set complete at this low price includes tube, batteries, head
set and all antenna equipment; nothing extra to buy. You can set it up and be
hearing programs an hour or two after you receive the set. The range of the
Ultra Airline is remarkable. On cold nights, under favorable conditions, you
will be able to enjoy programs regularly from stations up to 1000 miles distant,
and much greater distances have been covered. It will give good service the
year round. View Showing Interior of Ultra Airline: The above view shows the
compact interior arrangement of the Ultra Airline. Note that the batteries are
contained in the cabinet, hiding all except the antenna and ground wires. This
improves the appearance of the set and makes it adaptable for a portable set.
Build This Single Tube Three-Circuit Receiver Standard Reliable Hookup Using
Variocoupler, Variometer and Condenser - Very Sensitive and a Most Popular Receiver.
The construction work on this set has been carried to a point where all
you have to do is fasten the parts in place, cut and fit the wires, solder them
in place, put the set in its cabinet and you have a handsome and very reliable
detector and tuner - a compete receiver - at a total cost far below that of
a ready built set of the same kind. the hookup used is a standard regenerative
three-circuit and is quite selective and very sensitive. Some very remarkable
long range receiving records have been made with sets using this circuit and
many progressive radio builders consider it superior to most of the newer, more
complicated arrangements. with this set you will be able to cover enormous distances
under favorable conditions. It wave length range covers all broadcasting stations.
Very fine for reception of broadcasting and popular with operators who like
to copy ships.
One-Tube Reinartz Tuner: This set has earned a wide reputation for its long
distance reception, selectivity and ease of operation. It may be used with either
dry cell or storage battery tubes. Once the switch levers have been set for
coarse adjustment the finer tuning is easily done with the two variable condensers.
The addition of the 2−stage amplifier shown on the next page will give the Reinartz
sufficient volume for the operation of a loud speaker. Amateurs will also find
this set capable of bringing in the continuous wave wireless telegraph stations
with an ease of control that makes it better than almost any other type of receiver.
One Tube Cockaday Receiving Set: The Cockaday is noted for its extreme selectivity
- that is, its ability to tune out the nearby broadcasting stations and reach
the distant ones. The wave trap principle employed permits the use of a larger
antenna than is usually possible. This tends to slightly increase the range
and strength of the set. As all the coils are built into one unit in the Cockaday,
it is very compact and takes up much less panel space than other sets giving
equal results. The addition of the 2-stage amplifier shown on Page 31 will give
this set sufficient volume to operate a loud speaker on most distant stations.
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