12 June 2013

Bakelite Beast

Leo Baekeland invented the first true, i.e. fully synthetic, plastic in 1907. Ekco's first Bakelite radios were introduced in 1930 for the 1930/31 season, in the form of the models 312 and 313, designed by L. Smithers, both with separate loudspeakers. (Note: at that time, the wireless set industry worked in seasons, the models for the next season shown at autumn trade fairs. The industry's mostly women workers were hired at the end of summer, and fired around about Easter, each year.)

The U49 set was introduced by Ekco in 1947. This utilized the same cabinet as the August 1946 AC-only A23, but was instead AC/DC. It is an impressively large, and somewhat brutal, chunk of Bakelite, 22 inches long, 13 inches high, and 10 inches deep. This houses a chassis that provides for short-, medium-, and long-wave reception. There is also a channel for television sound, and a bank of five pre-set station buttons. The cabinet features on its front face, in Bakelite, Ekco's later logo. Original price £23.2s.0d plus purchase tax.

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