The Master-Baldwin Clarophone

Web Edition


The Nathaniel Baldwin Company in Salt Lake City, Utah, produced high quality reproducers and headsets used throughout World War I a fact that Baldwin mentioned often in its advertisements. In fact, the U. S. commandeered the Balwin factory during the war to assure that its equipment would be available to war vessels and militray and government stations.

The trade name of the horn, shown in Figure 1, is The Master-Baldwin "Throatype" Clarophone. Interestingly enough, the design of the neck of the horn is supposed to be shaped almost exactly like that of Caruso's throat. Its mouth is rectangular, which, according to a 1922 advertisement, follows the principle known and used by opera singers to get full resonance from the roof of the mouth.

What looks like a common wooden console horn for internal use is really Nathaniel Baldwin's first attempt at an external home speaker. The rather crude construction is simplicity itself. The bottom edge of the 11" x 7" wooden horn acts as the front support, while the formed tin neck curves into its driver, which is the backrest.

The Master-Baldwin Clarophone
Figure 1. The front of this unusual horn speaker was supposedly designed to resemble Enrico Caruso's famous throat.

The horn is driven by a single Baldwin Radio Co. Type "C" headset piece with a special adapter to the speaker neck. This 2000-ohm driver uses a mica disk for best reproduction.

The "Throatype" Clarophone sold for $22.50 complete, returnable after a 10-day trial, if the customer was not completely satisfied. The claim was that the simplicity of the design allowed large-scale production; hence, the low price.

Indications are that the earliest offerings had a natural wood-finished front wooden bell with gold lettering for the company name and model. Later versions, like the one pictured in Figure 1, were painted all black, with a solid gold background decal.

This milestone speaker is easy to miss at antique radio flea markets, and is often mistaken for an ordinary internal horn frame. Look carefully next time you might be rewarded!

(Dave Crocker, 4B Beechwood Point Dr., Mashpee, MA 02649)

Dave Crocker is on the A.R.C. staff and has been actively collecting radios since 1970. A good part of these years has been spent researching and collecting radios manufactured by the Crosley Company.

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Last revised: January 23, 2011