RCA Victor 75-X-17 Series Radios
Oriental Charm


Once again Gerald Schneider shares with us a unique, decorative series of radios in his collection. As we learned from his previous articles (A.R.C. February 1995 and June 1996), Gerald's Art Deco radios are used throughout his home as furnishings. Such a decorating scheme would make any collector sit up and take special notice. (Editor)

Take a rather plain-looking 1948 RCA Victor Model 75-X-11 table radio. Paint the cabinets either black, red (an orangy red), or white. Hire an artist to paint a decorative oriental scene on the radios with thick paint. What do you get? You end up with a beautiful RCA Victor 75-X-17 series radio!

The cabinet is made from durable plastic. The dimensions are 73/4" high, 10" wide, and 71/2" deep. There are three background colors to choose from: black (75-X-17), red (75-X-18), and white (75-X-19), shown left to right in Figure 1. These colors provide emphasis for the fine hand-painted oriental decorations.

Figure 1. Three examples of the RCA Victor 75-X series of radios decorated in an oriental style.

While painted scenes on each of the three model radios are very much the same, details differ because of hand painting. Cabinet tops show a man on an embankment at one end flying a kite over a pond, as seen in Figure 2. There is a tree next to him. A bridge crosses the pond to an embankment with another tree. Side scenes are similar, but without the kite flyer, and with more willow-like trees, and a pagoda. Painted enclosed backs make the sets attractive from any angle.

Figure 2. A view of a Model 75-X-19 that shows the detailed painting of the radio's top and dial.

The headline of an RCA sales sheet on these radios says, "The Timeless Enchantment of Hand Painted Chinese Art Weaves A Magic Spell of Exotic Beauty Into Your Home." The sales pitch continues, "The mystic charm. . . the timeless enchantment of the Orient. . . make them yours with this most unique of all table radios. On appropriate backgrounds of black, red, and white, the Far East beauty of symmetrical pagodas and graceful willows is captured in genuine hand paintings."

Striking polished brass frames the front of the cabinets at their edges. Especially entrancing dials have still another painted background -- an oriental pond scene. At the center of the dial is a polished brass convex dome. An illuminated plastic pointer sticks out from below the dome. It carries a beam of light to the pointer's red arrow tip.

The RCA sales sheet also accurately describes what the dial looks like when the radio is turned on: "A lovely oriental scene provides the perfect background for softly glowing numerals when the set is 'on.' And the flaming red tip of the plastic pointer glows radiantly, adding an effective touch of modern to the enduring allure of the Orient."


The tube complement of these radios includes Types 12SA7, 12SK7, 12SQ7, 50L6GT, and a Type 35Z5GT rectiifer. The tuning range covers the standard broadcast band for the time -- 540-1600 Kc. This AC/DC radio operates on 115 volts.

The speaker is a 5-inch, "super-sensitive" permanent magnet, electrodynamic speaker for what RCA calls "undistorted tone." It has RCA's so-called extra-large, built-in "Magic Loop" antenna, and super-sensitive antenna connection "for weak signal areas." No ground connection is needed. RCA claims its iron core IF transformer in these models "means great selectivity and sensitivity."

A rubber-mounted tuning condenser helps to eliminate hums and noises. The selective superheterodyne circuit makes for more balanced reception. AVC (Automatic volume control) means easier operation. And the 10:1 ratio vernier tuning allows easy accurate station selection.


So unique are the enclosed cabinets on these radios that special instructions are needed to take them apart. A label pasted on the outside bottom of the cabinet gives that information, along with tube layout, model, and other details. On the chance you obtain one of these radios without such a label, please follow these disassembly guidelines:

  1. Pull off two control knobs (straight out). Their shafts are long (11/2").
  2. Remove feet held by 4 slotted head screws.
  3. Lift bezel at the bottom edge and slide towards the top of the cabinet and off.
  4. Carefully lift out the dial scale.
  5. Press in the dial lamp, rotate counterclockwise, and lift out.
  6. Pull off indicator at the hub.
  7. Unscrew 5 slotted head screws that hold the metal base plate around the edge of the cabinet.
  8. Grasp metal base plate and withdraw the chassis from the cabinet.


Regarding playing quality, the RCA sales sheet has this to say:

"And the superb performance of this instrument is ultra-modern throughout. Your favorite Standard Band programs are heard with all the thrilling fidelity that makes the 'Golden Throat' the finest tone system in RCA Victor history. Here is an abundance of real listening pleasure in a fascinating setting worthy of the finest surroundings. This RCA Victor ends your search for the really different table radio at a sensible cost."

You have to see the glow of these sets turned on at night with the lights off to truly appreciate them! The red cabinet is the most dramatic, but they all look great gleaming in the dark. Try it with your own set, or someone else's, to see what I mean.


RCA Sales Sheet, no date.

(Gerald Schneider, 3101 Blueford Rd., Kensington, MD 20895-2726)

Gerald Schneider does not "stockpile" radios. His goal is "to furnish the entire house with things that are radios," and he has done that with over 50 radios, largely in an oriental motif. Almost the entire collection is tuned to WWDC-AM, which plays music largely of the 1940s and 1950s.

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Copyright © 1996-7 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.
Last revised: January 30, 1997. Pages designed by Wayward Fluffy Publications