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BOOK REVIEW:Philco Radio 1928-1942, By Ron Ramirez with Michael Prosise
REVIEWED BY DOUG HOUSTON
From Antique Radio Classified
(Copyright 1995 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
For the glorious years of the radio industry, Philco moved right in and walked right off with the industry's sales records. Many collectors favor Philco because of its superb engineering, contracted with Hazeltine, and the resultant performance. Philco's success was well earned and is documented in a fine book by Ron Ramirez with Michael Prosise - Philco Radio 1928-1942.
Philco offered many models each year, always responding to the market trends that the company carefully followed. In fact, the collector is often befuddled by the vast array of Philco pieces that could fill his collection. In Ron Ramirez's words, he had to specialize in Philco, simply to control the size of his collection! The result of his sharp focus on this fine product has qualified him to be an authority on the Philco line.
In this day of intense interest in historic electronic creations, the time was at hand for someone to assemble a comprehensive review of Philco's role in radio history. Ramirez and Prosise have done a masterful job of assembling Philco data and memorabilia in this book. It is the first venture into such a publication by each of the coauthors.
The story spans from the beginning of radio production in 1928 through the short model year of 1942. Even examples of the adaptations of leftover auto radios that appeared after production ended for regular home radios are included.
The book begins with several illustrations of Philadelphia Storage Battery products that led to Philco's entry into radio manufacturing. Following that, each chapter is devoted to a model year, with an introduction telling the major features of that year. Each chapter is filled with a tastefully laid out mixture of color and monochrome illustrations showing examples of the offerings of that model year. Each illustration is accompanied by a description of the basic characteristics of the item. The authors drew heavily from photographs supplied by collectors where available, and have included brochure illustrations where needed.
While strong enthusiasts may feel that they are well acquainted with the Philco brand, this book springs numerous surprises that came from the Philadelphia-based company over the years.
Ron explains that examples that are in less than perfect condition, or that have stain and varnish refinishes or wrong speaker grille cloth, are offered as "real life" examples. Other illustrations were simply not available. His intention was to compromise occasionally in order to provide a strong likeness to a particular example. That he has done well.
Ron and Mike's book includes a "rarity scale," showing the relative degree of rarity of each model. This scale was included under protest. Ron told me that he had been forced to compromise and settle for the rarity scale, after stubbornly resisting the publisher's request for a price guide. Ron's feelings (and mine) are that a price guide, which would soon be out of date, would have severely degraded the character of his book. There is no shortage of price guides!
The text does not delve deeply into technical details, which might have been redundant, since there is enough descriptive material. I did run into a small technical error, but it was not enough to detract from the good marks that the book has earned.
Automotive radio is not covered in this book, although Philco had become a major supplier of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) auto radios through the 1930s, as well as a big name in aftermarket sets in the same era. However, this subject is covered very well in Don Matteson's book The Auto Radio.
So, for those who hunger for good information about Philco, nourishment has finally arrived in abundance! This book is well worth the price and well worth the wait for its release.
Philco Radio 1928-1942 is published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 77 Lower Valley Rd., Atglen, PA 19310. It has 182 pages in a softbound 8 1/2" x 11" format. The suggested list price is $29.95, and it is available from the publisher, A.R.C., and other A.R.C. advertisers. Be sure to check these suppliers for ordering information.
(Doug Houston, 3441 S. Hadley Ln., Orotonville, MI 48462)