Sunday, January 24, 2010

Radios....I have radios, lots and lots of radios!

Children of my generation learned to use their imaginations well because, before TV, the most dominant home entertainment medium was the radio. I remember lying on the floor in front of the radio listening to concerts, musical shows, dramas, comedies, and one that threatened to "catch you in the jaws of a vise". My imagination always made me worry about that one.

These radios were made by Strombecker. All radios on the back row are 1" scale; from the left, the dates of production were 1936, 1938, and 1931. The art deco blue radio, part of their "Modern Design" line, was first marketed in 1938. The table radio was listed in their catalog in 1934.

Other dollhouse radios marketed during that period and later were...
first on the back row left is the US Menasha Woodenware radio from 1934;
US Converse produced this radio as part of their "Realy Truly" dollhouse furniture starting in 1931;
this radio was made by UK Barton around 1957.
On the front row is a radio made by US Nancy Forbes circa 1940;
US Kage made this radio from 1938 to 1948;
this last radio was probably made by US Strombecker during the mid 1940's.

Plastic dollhouse furniture became popular after World War II. The 3 radios grouped on the left were made by Renwal. The open drawer housed the phonograph...this is almost an exact replica of the Philco radio that my family had in our living room. I remember when I was old enough to play my colorful cardboard records on the phonograph without supervision. I sometimes see old cardboard records on eBay. :)
The next two radios are almost duplicates...the dark radio was made by US Ideal and the brown one by Canadian Reliable. The only difference is each radio has their brand name posted on the front above the dial. In Zillner's Furnished Dollhouses 1880-1980 she says that "Reliable was licensed by the Ideal Toy Co. to copy some of Ideal's products." That explains the identical radios. The last radio was made by Jaydon during World War II.
Not only did Renwal have a phonograph in the opening drawer, they also had radio tubes and speakers as seen from the back!


  1. You are a great teacher. I really appreciated this lesson. I cherish the vintage wooden radio I have. Oh the good ole days! My parents always had the am radio playing. Thanks for sharing your memories and your knowledge.

  2. Flo....I love your "radio" spot! It is amazing how many there are considering they were just bits for the dollhouse. But, like our 48" screen tv's now, radios were a status symbol and the latest means for communication. I love listening to some of the tapes of old radio shows....your imagination had to fill in all the gaps. Thanks so much for this little walk thru nostalgia! Happy New Year to you too! Hugs, Louise

  3. Hey Amy, all the knowledge comes right from one or more of Dian Zillner's wonderful dollhouse books...but the memories were mine! Thanks for reading my blog! Hugs, Flo

    Hi Louise, I wish I had as many vintage dolly telephones as I do old radios! In 40 years, when the little girls of today are grown and looking back at their dollhouses, I wonder how antiquated the computers and big screen TVs will look to them? Good to hear from you! Cheers, Flo

  4. Hi Florine,
    I've just discovered your blog, and I'm impressed by your collection. I also have a few radios and TVs, but thanks for having shared these pictures with us, i've discovered many new models, really interesting. I shall follow your blog, from now, and I'm sure I shall learn much.

  5. Hi Bea! Very happy you discovered my blog! I discovered your Chez BEA website over a year ago, and I have so enjoyed it....even more so now that I have found out how to translate by the page! You have some great houses and I love the way you have them decorated. Now we are following each other! :) Cheers to you! Florine

  6. Hi Florine, I love these posts on radios and TVs! You have a great collection, and it's a brilliant idea to show them all together. It's making me think about what I have (I have some of the same pieces, including the Menasha radio - as I think you know) - and also what I remember. I'm well under 60, but grew up without a TV until I was 13. We listened to the wireless, as we called it, and records, and watched TV when we stayed with our Nana during the holidays, or visited neighbours. At school, we went into a room in one of the boarding houses, where there was a TV on a high stand, which had black plastic covers in front of the screen - one that lifted up and had to be balanced on the two that folded out to the sides, quite an operation as I remember it! I suppose it was to keep light from the screen.
    cheers, Rebecca

  7. Love all your radios! Will you use these in some of your houses, or just display them in a special place?

  8. Hi Rebecca, loved the description of the TV you remembered from your childhood! When we first had a TV mid 1950s, it was stylish to have a "TV lamp", (usually a ceramic animal, no lamp shade,low wattage bulb) on top of the TV cabinet as the only light turned on in the room...I'm guessing same premise as the screens on the TV you described. I remember our lamp being a black panther (big wild cat in case they are found only in US) but other popular lamps were pink swans or running horses...totally mid-century modern! :)
    YES! I was very happy to discover your Menasha radio in your Cupboard House, a great setting for it.Menasha is not as easy to find as Strombecker or Schoenhut. I don't have a Schoenhut radio, but I did find out from a new email friend that one was made in their 1933 or 34 line of furniture...very similar to the one by Converse.
    Looking forward to your next blog! Cheers to you! Flo

    Hi little radios and TVs will return to the little houses they were in....if I can remember which ones! a senior and a blonde, Flo

  9. Dear Florine,
    I have just received a lot of furniture, and there was a radio in it, that is one you have described here, as being a Strombecker. I have no idea about this mark. Could you give me a link? I think, the whole furniture I have received with this radio could be from the same maker and would like to check ...

  10. Hi Bea! One good link to some really nice Strombecker furniture is Jennifer McKendry's site at I also have a squidoo website that shows my Keystone of Boston dollhouses and several of them have Strombecker furniture in them, plus some of them have similar furniture by Schoenhut, Converse Really Truly, and Kage...all American made wooden furniture of the 1930s-40s. My website is or there is a link on my blog listed as "See my vintage Keystone of Boston dollhouses". Another link that shows more of my Keystone houses is "My vintage American dollhouses". And if you don't see your furniture on any of these sites, just send a picture to me at and I'll check in Zillner's wonderful dollhouse books! I'm excited to see what you have...please be sure to let me know! Florine

  11. Hi Florine,
    thank you, I've looked at your dolls houses, and at Jennifer's website, but if I'm quite sure for the Strombecker, I'm unable to identify the rest of the furniture. I send you an email.