Top 10 Bakelites
The Timeless Appeal of Bakelite
What is it about Bakelite that seems to capture the sights, sounds, feel, and the essence of the good old days? Is it the solid hefty feel compared with today's plastics? Is it the seasoned aged look that seems to get better with age?
Is it because they just don't use Bakelite in household goods anymore?
In the world of radios, Bakelite's popularity is strong as ever. And it is seeing a new generation of fans thanks to technologies like Bluetooth and Smartspeaker personal assistant devices like Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, and Apple Homepod which makes these old radios relevant again.
Everyone has their favorite Bakelite models. We came up with ours. There were many manufacturers of Bakelite radios in the 30s leading up to the 50s. Some models stand out above the rest. Here's our list:
10. "The Moderne" 1949 Emerson Model 561A
One of radio's prettiest faces from the famed designer Raymond Loewy who also designed the bullet train locomotive, Lucky Strike logo, and the Studebaker Avanti. Do you think the man has a good eye?
9. 1949 Telechron Model 8H59
This is the first clock radio model ever offered. The simple idea of using a clock to turn on a radio instead of an alarm is still in use today. General Electric liked the idea so much they bought Telechron company.
8. 1950 Zenith Model H511W
The famed Zenith Consol-Tone radio. The "Racetrack" radio. Its looks are unmistakable mid-century modern. Available in painted colors over Bakelite: green, ivory, and gray.
7. 1951 Zenith Model H724
AM FM was not common back when this radio was first introduced. This could have been an epic failure on the part of Zenith. But, history proves Zenith was right on the money. If you want a Bakelite radio that plays AM and FM, this is one of the few to choose from. Remember, it wasn't until the 70s that FM stations gained favor over AM.
6. 1952 General Electric Model 60
This Bakelite GE radio has a timeless universal appeal to it. It looks like it could have been made in 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and still be current with the times. Available in brown, white, wood grained and gold (pictured). It can fit in any decor setting almost without seeming out of place.
5.1946 Philco Model 46-420
The Philco hippo is one of the more counter-intuitively elegant designs of the mid century radio landscape. From just a written description alone, this radio's looks doesn't make sense. You really have to see it to appreciate it. Many folks do gravitate to its bathtub-like voluptuous proportions.
4. Bendix Model 526A
The famous Bendix toaster radio. Who else but an aviation company bent on making a name for itself in the post war consumer marketplace, with ample financial resources, can be so spot on point with a radio that looks this good, sounds great, and so easy to repair?
3. 1950 RCA Victor Model 9X561
This is probably the best sounding radio because of its large 8" speaker. There's no replacement for displacement so the saying goes. Applies to horsepower and gas fuel mixture to burn rubber as it does with paper cones pushing air to make sound. Look at the design too. Is there any question this thing is designed to produce sound?
2. 1940 Emerson Model 507
1. 1946 Philco Model 46-200
This Philco is the epitome of a good vintage Bakelite radio. Proportions, good looks, good performance, unmistakable mid-century looking. Easy to service. Many parts to be found because so many were made. Available in brown and painted ivory.
There you have it. Our list of the top 10 best Bakelite radios. Everyone's list is different. There are so many other great Bakelite radios that belong on this list. It is hard to choose just ten. A lot folks cannot make up their minds either. So they just end up buying them all!