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Wireless

  • Place of origin:

    Southend-on-Sea (made)

  • Date:

    1932 (made)
    1931 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    White, J. K. (designer)
    E. K. Cole Ltd (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Compression-moulded phenol-formaldehyde ('Bakelite'), copper, woven fabric

  • Credit Line:

    Given by E. K. Cole and Company

  • Museum number:

    CIRC.755-1966

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This radio, or wireless as it would have been known when it was first made, combined new technology, materials and style. The Ekco Consolette number SH25 is an early example of a mass-produced mains table wireless, and was the first set to have the stations marked on the dial. The Art Deco case, designed by J. K. White, exploited the possibilities of Bakelite, a new plastic which enabled complex shapes to be moulded in high-speed industrial processes. The Art Deco style was popular for such small decorative household objects. Radio broadcasting had been made possible in the UK only in 1920, as a result of Marconi’s experimental radio station in Essex. Radio rapidly became a popular form of entertainment, following the founding of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), the widespread use of short-wave radio in the mid 1920s and an increase in the number of broadcasting stations throughout the country.

Physical description

Brown phenol-formaldehyde ('Bakelite') wireless with a compression-moulded case and a circular dial in the centre. The dial has a circular panel in the middle with a metal panel of trees in silhouette against a fabric backing; the ring around is is printed with the names of radio stations.

Place of Origin

Southend-on-Sea (made)

Date

1932 (made)
1931 (designed)

Artist/maker

White, J. K. (designer)
E. K. Cole Ltd (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Compression-moulded phenol-formaldehyde ('Bakelite'), copper, woven fabric

Dimensions

Height: 45.5 cm, Width: 41 cm, Depth: 24.5 cm

Object history note

Given to the Museum in 1966 by Messrs E.K. Cole [66/1367].

Descriptive line

Brown bakelite Art Deco wireless set with silhouette of trees on speaker, designed by J. K. White for Ekco Plastics Ltd., Britain, early 1930s

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Hawes, Robert and Sassower, Gad. Bakelite Radios (Edison, New Jersey, 1996)
p.99
Hawes, Robert, Radio Art (London, 1991)
p.77
Hogben, Carol, The Wireless Show!: 130 classic radio receivers, 1920s to 1950s, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1977

Materials

Copper; Fabric; Bakelite; Phenolic

Techniques

Compression moulding; Printing

Subjects depicted

Trees

Categories

Household objects; Entertainment & Leisure; Plastic; Audio equipment; Product design

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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