The Sears Silvertone Model 6050
BY RICHARD ARNOLD
The moral of this Richard Arnold story of another successful search for a radio is never sell a radio your wife really likes. If you do, you have to get lucky to find another. (Editor)
I just recently found the Silvertone Model 6050, shown in Figure 1, in an antique store here in Ardmore, Oklahoma. I had one just like it back in the mid-1980s when I first started collecting, and for some forgotten reason, I had decided to sell or trade it.
My wife really liked the radio and got upset with me when she realized that I had disposed of it. Seems she had one like it in her parents' home when she was a kid. She told me to go ahead and purchase it if I ever found another one. So, when I saw this radio sitting there on the shelf at the antique store, I thought that I should at least look at it.
I looked the set over really carefully and decided that it was in pretty good condition. What was wrong with it was restorable or fixable. The chassis, even though it didn't work, was complete and in good condition with no rust. The cabinet had no major problems. The price was right, so I went ahead and bought it.
When I got the set home and took it apart, I found that it was in very good condition. About all that I had to do was recap it and replace a tube, and it came to life. I did a little work on the cabinet, mostly just cleaning off 56 years of dirt and crud and then giving it a good oiling. The radio looks and plays great. It is however; very sensitive to the way you put the plug into the wall. Put it in the wrong way, and the set really howls.
The Silvertone Model 6050
The 1947 Model 6050 is a 6-tube AC/DC superheterodyne. It tunes the broadcast band only, from 540 Kc to 1600 Kc. The tube complement is one each of the following: a 12SK7 RF amp, a 12SA7 converter, a 14R7 IF/AVC/detector, a 12SK7 AF amp, a 35L6 power output, and finally, a 35Z5 rectifier. The dial is lighted with a 7-watt candelabra-based bulb.
Figure 1. The Sears Silvertone Model 6050.
This set has a silver-toned, Deco dial/speaker bezel, while others have either a gold tone or black bezel. The cabinet is walnut and has vertical striated front corners that I think enhance the overall design.
There are at least three other models of this radio using the same cabinet style, but with different chassis designs. All of them are 1947 models -- my 132-286-2, the 132-286-3 and the 132-825-4. The only difference that I know of is that the 132-286-2 uses a 14R7 tube in lieu of a 12SQ7.
Silvertone Radio Manufacturers
Sears, of course, did not make Silvertone radios, even though they were sold in Sears stores using the trade name. According to W. Rupert MacLaurin in his book Invention and Innovation in the Radio Industry, Sears Roebuck Company had around $700,000 dollars in radio sales in 1941. Sears and Montgomery Ward accounted for around $1,600,000 in combined radio sales in that same year.
At that time, Sears had a controlling interest in an RCA licensee company named Colonial Radio. Colonial, along with many others, such as Stewart-Warner, Detrola and Arvin, made the Silvertone radio sets for Sears. In doing research for this article, I found that the first three digits of the chassis number indicated which company had made the radio for Sears. The number 132 in my set's chassis, 132-826-2, indicates that Noblitt-Sparks (Arvin) made this radio.
I kept track of the Model 6050s that were on sale on eBay from November of 2003 to February of 2004. Five of them showed up for sale. The condition of the sets varied, of course, but the selling prices ranged from a low of $33 to a high of $203. Can you believe that? Two of the other sets sold for $41.00 and $45.44, while another brought $61.06. Well, I gave $38 for mine so I guess I did all right.
My wife was sure happy to see that I had finally located another Silvertone 6050. She made me promise that I would never trade or sell it. I promised. She has even placed it on a table in the forbidden living room.
MacLaurin, Morgan E. Invention and Innovation in the Radio Industry. New York: The MacMillan Co., 1949.
Rider, John F. Perpetual Trouble Shooter's Manual, Vol. XIX, pages 1-5. New York: John Rider Publishing, 1949.
(Richard Arnold, P.O. Box 275, Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443, Arnold@brightok.net)
Richard Arnold, a collector since 1985 and a frequent contributor to A.R.C., is primarily interested in cathedrals and 1920s battery sets. His collection ranges from crystal sets to a 1928 American Bosch in a Pooley cabinet. The 1932 Peter Pan featured in the June 1991 A.R.C. is his prize.