Three Ship Speaker Designs


Cone speakers continue to crop up as a subject of interest to collectors. This article is a follow-up to articles in the July 1997 and the January 1999 issues of A.R.C. It describes three altogether different approaches to ship speaker design in the 1920s. (Editor)

The ship model shown in Figure 1 is owned by Buford Chidester of Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania. Manufactured by Miniature Ship Models, Inc., of Philadelphia, this was the company's largest kit model. It measures 27" tall x 21" long and has a hull of painted wood construction. The 14" x 17" center parchment sail is actually the free-edge paper cone driven by a Vitalitone-type driver attached to the mast.

The very colorful cone speaker ship model "Venetian Lepanto"
Figure 1. The very colorful cone speaker ship model "Venetian Lepanto" made by Miniature Ship Models, Inc., of Philadelphia. The sail with the lion design painted on it is the cone speaker. Look carefully and you will see the sailor figurines in the rigging.

Found in remarkably good condition, the unit is fully rigged and has eight tiny cast-iron sailors in the rigging, (see Figure 2 in print version), all of which are hand painted. House current powers the lighting in the hull interior and the three tiny green treasure chests on deck. The ship is named the 
Venetian Lepanto, and is one of many the company offered for sale either in kit form or fully assembled. One ship model even offered a 2-dial battery operated receiver inside its hull, exposed by pulling down one hinged side of the model.

Figure 3 (see print version) shows the Vitalitone-type driver attached to the main mast, which operated the paper cone speaker.

An ad for the Miniature Ship Models speakers, shown in Figure 4 (see print version), illustrates the Santa Maria, La Pinta, and the Mayflower, just three of the many designs offered by the company. This ad appeared in the July 1927 issue of Science and Invention.

Figure 5 shows a second type of ship model design, which was also a wooden kit sold by Miniature Ship Models, Inc. Owned by John DeLoria of Chicopee, Massachusetts, this unit has undergone some restoration with modifications.

Another ship speaker by Miniature Ship Models, Inc.
Figure 5. Another ship speaker by Miniature Ship Models, Inc., this one with the cone speaker hidden in the deck.

Named the Mayflower, it is 25" long x 26" tall x 10" wide. It differs from other ship model cone speakers in that, instead of being mounted in the sails, the speaker is flush with the center deck, and the driver is deep in the hull. A wooden decorative grille covers the speaker cloth, as can be seen in Figure 6 (see print version). The sails were recently restored with a light canvas-type material. The kit, composed of 62 separate pieces, originally sold for $4.98. 

An entirely different approach to ship speaker design by an unknown manufacturer is shown in Figure 7. This ship's hull is fabricated from a plaster-type material, and has wooden masts and painted metal sails with full rigging. Its unique feature is the horn-type speaker in the hull with the horn opening in the forward deck. Its Utah-type driver is mounted in the rear (stern) of the ship, as shown in Figure 8 (see print version).

This model is 25" tall x 17" long x 6" wide. I own this speaker and will attempt a total restoration later this year. Any hints on plaster restoration would be appreciated.

And there you have three novel approaches to speakers in ship models -- one with a cone speaker sail, one with a cone speaker deck, and one with a horn speaker in the deck hull.

If any of our readers have any other variations, or can identify the manufacturer of the ship speaker shown in Figure 7, we would be glad to hear from you.

The ship model with the horn speaker inside its hull.
Figure 7. The ship model with the horn speaker inside its hull. This model is constructed of a plaster-type material with wooden masts and thin metal sails.

(Dave Crocker, 4B Beechwood Point Dr., Mashpee, MA 02649)

Dave Crocker, a longtime member of the A.R.C. staff, lends his skills as a graphic artist to the layout of the magazine. He has been actively collecting radios for over 29 years, many of which were spent in researching and collecting those manufactured by the Crosley Radio Company.

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