Sligh Radio Table with Philco PT-26
BY GERALD SCHNEIDER
As we know from his previous articles, Gerald Schneider and his wife Dorothy don't believe in confining their radios to a "museum room." In the following article we learn of another piece in his collection, which, like the others, is displayed and used in their home. (Editor)
I hoped for years to get this revolving-top table with built-in Philco Model PT-26 radio from my fellow radio collector friend. Readers may recall from my March 2000 A.R.C. article "Radios as Furniture" that my wife and I furnish our house with radio-furniture combinations. The attraction of this piece was that it would not have to be cleared of items and lifted for access as the more common Atwater Kent Kiel model requires. The table's wood condition was good and original, and the radio worked. Finally, when my friend moved, he sold it to me. The "radio table" or "table with radio" is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. The Philco Model PT-26 in a Charles R. Sligh Co. table. The wood is mahogany and the tabletop revolves. One of three cubbyholes can be seen on the left edge of the octagonal table.
Identifying the Table
A decal on the underside of the top of the table reads, "Charles R. Sligh Company, Furniture by Sligh, Holland, Michigan." Using the Michigan Antique Radio Club's membership list (which I received at their "Extravaganza," a national radio meet), I called a collector living in Holland, Michigan. What I learned was that the Sligh Company was still in business there. From later research, I also learned that Charles Sligh, the firm's founder, is in the American Furniture Hall of Fame, as is Leo Jiranek, the designer of my bedroom set. This set includes the bed headboard with built-in Stewart-Warner radio mentioned in my earlier article.
Figure 2. A close-up of the radio face.
A telephone call to the company was routed to a cordial employee who said she would check the company's data base to see if she could find the piece. I also sent her a photo. She found it! It was listed as "No. 911/2 Radio Table" in the 1939 catalog.
"This revolving-top table is equipped with a 5-tube Philco radio installed so that the top may revolve without interfering with radio reception. All mahogany with genuine leather top," the catalog read. What could be better? The octagonal tabletop is also described as 28" x 28" and 28" high. Three of the segments in the circumference of the table are open cubbyholes; one can be seen in Figures 1 and 3.
Figure 3. Note the open shelf/cubbyhole on the left.
The remaining panels in the octagon include the radio and three that are closed and simply decorative. Unfortunately, there was no record of what the selling price had been for the piece in 1939.
Figure 4. The three pairs of contact "fingers" are shown on the lower right in the photo above.
Identifying the Radio
The radio dial (see Figure 2) was distinctive enough to identify it from a picture on page 133 in Philco Radio 1928-1942 by Ron Ramirez with Michael Prosise. But there is no radio-furniture combination like mine in the Ramirez/Prosise book.
I called the book's coauthor, Michael Prosise, who lives in my area. Michael had an example of this Sligh set too, but with no identifying decal like mine, and he was not sure whether it had been homemade or manufactured. I sent Ron Ramirez a photo, but he knew nothing about it. Now we all are aware that the Philco PT-26 radio table was manufactured by the Sligh Company.
The radio is an AC Philco Transitone Model PT-26 with AM broadcast band. It has five Philco loctal tube types: 35A5, 35Z3, 7A8, 7B7, and 7C6. There was no internal antenna originally, but mine has an added one. The line cord for my radio runs out from one of the cubbyholes.
Figure 5. Arrows show the three rings against which the contacts shown in Figure 4 slide.
Figures 4 and 5 show how the AC power and antenna are connected to the radio via "finger" contact rings around the table pedestal. This is how Philco solved the problem of keeping the radio going even if the table top was completely rotated.
Many thanks to Michael Prosise for his help on this article, especially the photographs of his radio/table and the Philco products in Figure 6.
Ramirez, Ron with Michael Prosise. Philco Radio, 1928-1942. Atgen, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1993.
Sligh Company 1939 Catalog. Holland, Mich., 1939.
(Gerald Schneider, 3101 Blueford Rd., Kensington, MD 20895)
Gerald Schneider does not "stockpile" radios. Instead, he decorates his home with sets, featuring those which emphasize an oriental motif. Of note are three 1929 Crosley Gemchest radios in different colors. Almost the entire collection is tuned to WWDC-AM, which plays music of the 1940s and 1950s.
Figure 6. Displayed on the top of the radio/table are a few Philco products from Michael Prosise's collection. L to R: pilot lamps topped by a 500 K variable control; "Genuine Philco Furniture Polish"; a Type 26 radio tube; portable A batteries; a D-size flashlight battery; Type 46 Universal pilot lamps.