Buscher's Radio Catalog
BY JOHN V. TERREY with Dorothy A. Schecter
We seem to be into cowboys and horses in this issue. The following article makes the connection. Unfortunately, the illustrations here are of poorer quality than usual because they had to be reproduced from an 84-year-old catalog. (Editor)
We've said it before one thing often leads to another in the pursuit of radio history. The foil images of Hopalong Cassidy and his horse in Jack Gray's article in this issue jogged my memory about a catalog in my archives. Of course, the search was on, and a 1923 Buscher's Radio Catalog surfaced.
The catalog's cover drawing of a cowboy on his rearing horse appears on this month's A.R.C. cover because, though there is no direct connection to Hopalong, it is an interesting parallel. It suggests that images of dashing cowboys had sales appeal from the very early days of radio, to the midcentury popularity of William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy, to today, when collectors still seek out the 1950 Hopalong Cassidy radio.
"Buy from Buscher"
The slogan "Buy from Buscher" heads every page of this excellent early catalog. To excite product interest from the start, the cover artist presents a man of action whose steed is raring to go as he lassos the letters in the word "catalog." We wonder what he's listening to on his headphones.
Radio waves electrify the air as a backdrop to the cover title and even under the horse's hooves.
The home of the C.A. Buscher Co. at 1219-1221 Locust Street, Kansas City, Missouri.
Obviously, the artist did not have William Boyd's concern that such a pose for the horse might be considered animal cruelty, as suggested in Jack Gray's article.
A "Personal Message" from C.A. Buscher to his "friends in the Retail Trade" introduces this Radio Catalog No. 5 extolling the products of his company, which was located at 1219-1221 Locust St., Kansas City, Missouri. Business via catalog must have been good because this is the fifth Buscher catalog since the company's founding, and the second published within six months.
In it, Buscher claims to offer one of the largest stocks outside of New York. He gives the example of 21 different styles of headphones waiting on his shelves for orders. He also calls attention to the inclusion of diagrams to facilitate hooking up parts for such sets as Atwater Kent breadboards and A.C. Dayton products.
In addition, dealers would find a dictionary of radio terms and a listing of broadcasting stations useful in their transactions with customers. Furthermore, they could show this catalog to customers because prices are quoted at list, and a separate discount sheet would guarantee their profit. One caveat is that prices could not be guaranteed.
The DR-5 and DR-10 Busco receiving sets. The DR-5 is "built for the enthusiast who desires a modern compact and efficient receiver for broadcast reception." The DR-10 "has been designed and built expressly for concert reception." The DR-5 uses a single tube as detector. The DR-10 adds a two-stage amplifier.
The Trego is a one-tube regenerative set, and is "fully guaranteed for a receiving range of 1,000 miles."
A 1923 Treasure
Looking through this catalog, we were moved to say, "Wow!" What a great thing it must have been in to know that such a range of supplies and information was available in the relatively early days of the radio industry. In addition to Atwater Kent and Dayton products, among the other products offered are those of Echophone, Busco, Federal, Atchison, and Day-Fan.
A Little Gem crystal receiving set priced at $6.50 is so easy to install and operate even a child can do it, or so says the catalog blurb. Crystal sets by Kleerton, Radioceptor, Fullatone, Busco and Atchison are also offered. The lists go on: vacuum tubes and sockets, rheostats and potentiometers, variable plate condensers and dials, panels, binding posts, contact points, and switch levers, loud speakers, antenna equipment, soldering irons, etc., etc. -- a veritable radio smorgasbord.
The Clear Tone horn is used with a set of headphones that are positioned over openings shown at left on the base of the horn. "Just place your phones on as you would on your head."
In today's world of instant information, we may find it hard to imagine how valuable such a catalog must have been in 1923. C.A. Buscher perhaps thought only of his sales, but maybe he had an inkling of the contribution his catalog might make to radio history.
C.A. Buscher Company. "Radio Catalog No. 5." Kansas City, Missouri, March 1923.
(John V. Terrey, Dorothy A. Schecter, c/o A.R.C. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741)
On the left is the Echophone Type T-16 tuner and detector unit. On the right is the companion two-stage amplifier. The tuner uses the Armstrong regenerative circuit.
Top, a schematic showing the use of an Atwater Kent coupled-circuit tuner and an Atwater Kent detector-amplifier "TA" unit. Below, the coupled-circuit tuner on the left and the detector-amplifier "TA" unit on the right.