The transistor radio was the vehicle of social change for a generation of teenagers during the 1950’s, bringing portable music to the masses for the first time!
My collection features transistor radios manufactured between 1954 and 1965; the ‘Golden Age’ of transistor radio design.
I am captivated by the aesthetics, design flow, history and build of the early transistor radios. I've focused on their design and tried to capture their form showing them in a way that highlights them as 'objects de art'.
These icons of yesteryear feature stunning 'Jet Age' design influenced by the space race, fifties automobiles, architecture and popular music. Most of these radios still look modern and sharp even today; fifty years after they were created. Good design really is timeless!
For me the transistor radio represents youth, freedom, innocence, rebellion and independence. They evoke images of James Dean, fast cars, cigarettes, Elvis Presley and gyrating hips!
These are the iPods of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
I recently had my article on the Privat-ear published in the international AWA Journal. Here's a scan.
Here's something you don't see everyday! Manufactured in New Zealand in 1959, it's the Teerad Little Jewel. Apparently modeled on small jewellery boxes of the age... And here's a classic retro radio, the Realtone Comet, actually two Comets, and I've expanded the article with lots of new information making it a bit of a feature on Realtone!
1962... Empire made, 9 transistors. This Londale is a stunning little 9 transistor radio, boxed with accessories. I've added in a bit of a 'featurette' on early transistor radio history in the Colony.
Well I'm pretty pleased with my article on the Privat-ear, shirt pocket subminiature tube radio. A lot of independent research went into putting this together but I really wanted to get it right. It turned out to be an epic journey over five decades in the making!
Today I made my first new listing in almost three years. Check out this vintage 1955/56 Sony TR-72. Some commentators refer to this as Sony's second transistor radio, however...
I haven't checked in for a few years but I'm still around, I've just been busy with life! Eventually I will get around to adding more radios to this site.
Have you ever wondered who made your two transistor boys radio? Very few of them have model numbers and almost none are marked inside with a makers label. Well collector Michael Jack has gone some way towards solving this mystery. Have a look at my Coronet STR-221 with attached link to Michael's site.
If you are a member of Facebook then join my page titled Transistor Radio. Very original I know... Recently I came across some of my early photos of a Sylvania 4P14. Some of them were a bit raw so I played around with them a bit, cut a few and relisted this old favourite. New listings include a tall, slim coral colored Silvertone 212 from 1959 and a progressive design from 1961, the Hitachi TH-660 with its clear plastic gift box.
Well 2010 is rolling on at an alarming rate and my radio collection is becoming more vintage by the day! I've just added a West German Grundig Mini-Boy Transistor 200 complete with its gift box and instructions. I've also added a tiny Sony 1R-81 from 1965 and a Harpers 'Pocket Radio' (cleverly disguised as a crystal radio).
I've recently added a new section titled Literature / Ads. There are some interesting and informative articles in this section and some great old advertisements. I have also added 'A timeless piece of Radio Art' in pink no less. Enjoy.
Recent listings include a couple of early American classics that are often overlooked by collectors. Why? Because they are not Japanese? Because they are not perceived as being cool? Who knows, but I like them and they are historically important radios featuring beautiful, snappy design. 'for the ladies' and the glamorous Admiral 7M14.
Recent purchases include, from the USA a leather clad Regency TR-5C, an ornate Bulova 640, an Admiral 7M14, an early pink Westinghouse H695P8 and an Emerson 555. From Japan I have a boxed Carlton 'Boomerang', a boxed Realtone TR-8042 and a red Magnavox AM-22. From the UK a couple of Ferguson's, unknown model numbers (I've not received them yet) but very interesting looking radios and a boxed Perdio Mini 66. From Germany a boxed Grundig Mini-Boy. And from New Zealand a rare red variation of a Sanyo 6511 branded as Autocrat, very retro, very cool! I just need to clean and polish them before I can list them. I'm focusing more on American and European radios right now but I still have plenty of Japanese radios to list.
I've also tidied up my homepage and given it a new look.
I've just added a superb Harpers GK-900 to my site. Its a very desirable radio featuring a memorable under-painted face and uncommon green cabinet. It's been sitting in a box for the past 18 months. Check it out.
Well exactly 11 months ago on the 19/03/2009 my website fell over and I lost a lot of info. Its now back and fully operational, all links appear to be working and all the listed radio pages are accessible. I have 116 radios listed with approximately 80 more (at this time) to clean, polish photo, research and list, I better get cracking!
2009 was a very busy year for me and I found it difficult to spend any time on my site. I hope to spend a bit more time on it this year. I've not added any radios for the past 6 months, well until now. Check out the International AK-610 and the great looking Japanese ABC TN-603.
I now have 82 pages in total up and running. I have removed the Vintage Ads section and these ads can now be found in the corresponding radio listing.
Of note, I have started viewing listings on eBay again after almost 12 months and it would appear that the world wide recession has impacted negatively on the prices that collectable radios are selling for. The prices paid for many radios are only 60 - 70% of what they were fetching 2 years ago. If you have some spare cash and want to invest in vintage electronics then now would be a great time to buy.
Well its been a fairly productive month with 50 pages now up and running! Still plenty more work to do though...
I have changed my domain name to jamesbutters.com and in doing so have lost over 2500 photos... Its going to take me a long time to get this site back up and running again.
I have a new email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos from my site are featured in the latest edition of
Sorry if I've been a little quiet of late. I've put this site on the 'back burner' whilst I get through my divorce :)
I spent a bit of time recently cleaning, polishing and photographing a couple of rather filthy Realtone Comet's. They look great now, almost mint! These radios were manufactured in Japan circa 1959/60. Collector Bob Davidson points out that Realtone is one of the few Japanese manufacturers who managed to create outstanding radios without the use of reverse painted plastic. A turquoise colored Realtone Comet features prominently on the cover of the book Made in Japan.
Well I tore my calf off my Achilles tendon a week ago whilst laying down the law on the kick bag. So that gave me an opportunity to sit on my butt and prep a few more radios for my site. I have added an unusual little made by Constant (Fuji High Frequency Radio Lab, Co, Ltd) circa 1959.I have also added an early and historically important New Zealand radio. The is the successor to the first New Zealand designed and manufactured transistor radio. It also bears a strong resemblance to one of Sony's greats...
I have given another couple of listings a face lift. Starting with the fantastic Zephyr AR-600 made by Aiwa and the cute and chunky little manufactured by Tokyo Optical & Radio MFG Co Ltd.
Well I finally wore out my old Canon Ixus 3.1 meg digital camera. Killed it actually, stone dead! It gave me an excuse to buy a new 7 meg Canon Power Shot A550 and I'm impressed with its 'low cost' quality! In the past I have rushed some listings onto my site without being entirely happy with them. Subsequently I've re shot a few of my earlier efforts with more refining planned for the future. Some improved listings include the following:
I have about 100 radios still to list.
I now have over 100 radios listed on my site! To celebrate this momentous occasion I had a wee splif of bourbon whilst photographing my . Check out the first photo of that particular listing, the bourbon made a great prop and it went down well afterwards!
24/05/2008I won an old suitcase full of 'junk' that was listed on auction site Trade Me. Amongst all the rocks was a genuine jewel in the form of a rare ! I've seen these sell for up to $900 USD on eBay!
I have acquired and listed one of my favorite European radios, the Siemens Transetta 2! It came to me all the way from Austria, where it was originally manufactured. It has a large, bold chevron framing the tuning dial, and bears some resemblance to the Sony TR-67 in Alan Kastner's collection.
I have added a to my collection. This radio was of course the worlds second transistor radio released not long after the Regency TR-1. Special thanks to Bob McGarrah for allowing me to reference his comprehensive research article on the 8TP series. I had fun photographing this radio and risked life and limb taking some cool photos in the 100k zone!
I have added a New Zealand section to my site. Seems appropriate really, considering I'm a Kiwi! I have a couple of very rare NZ assembled radios listed in this section for fans of Toshiba and Sony!
Thanks to Alan Kastner for helping me out with decoding the serial number of my although we never really did get to the bottom of it, and unless either of us comes across a shipping container full of 4P14's then we probably never will...
Today is the day that I got serious about displaying my collection online and started my own website. Previously I had been a member of the collectors site Squirl along with fellow transistor radio groupie Michael Jack. Unfortunately Squirl is notoriously unreliable and I simply had enough of not being able to log in, sometimes for weeks on end! I can now direct my creative energy into displaying my radios the way that I have wanted to since I purchased my firston Christmas day of 2006!