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Thread: 1937 radio - McMurdo Silver "Masterpiece VI"

  1. #1
    "A List" Customer RetroToday's Avatar
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    1937 radio - McMurdo Silver "Masterpiece VI"

    I recently took some better photos of a console tube radio in my collection, thought I'd share some of them here.
    You can see them all and more in my Flickr gallery here

    This is the highest quality radio that I have. McMurdo Silver certainly put a lot of nice touches on their sets. Chrome is the nicest finishing touch here, not many radio companies did that. (Makes it tricky to get a good photo of it though.) I love the nice clean lines, not quite Art Deco, more like Art Moderne?

    The radio uses 17 vacuum tubes in the receiver and 4 in the power amplifier, quite a high count compared to other mid to high-end radios of the era.

    The wooden cabinet below the receiver is named "The Clifton" and apparently it's a tricky cabinet to find. They were given away for free by the McMurdo Silver company to people that purchased the receiver. Not many survived. Neither did McMurdo Silver, the company went out of business the year this radio was made.

    Sadly, 'McMurdo Silver', the actual man who started this radio company, committed suicide in 1947. His life was ruined by its closure.


    With large dust shield box on


    Closeup on the receiver


    With large dust shield removed


    Top view, the smaller chrome cans house the vacuum tubes.


    Rear of the radio. Speaker to left, power / amp to right.


    The 18" Jensen "Super Giant" speaker that came the radio


    Clipped from Radio News magazine, Dec. 1937 -

    The cabinet featured on the radio in this ad is the same as mine, but the actual radio is from a year earlier.
    McMurdo Silver offered the Clifton cabinet on both year's models.

    *btw: I haven't plugged it in since I bought it in 2007, but am always very tempted. It's more complex than most radios so I want an expert to give it a tuneup before I turn it on. As you may already know from older threads here, you can blow more expensive components if you don't replace the capacitors first - and there's a lot of them under the chassis of this one. For now it just sits quiet, looking nice.

    Hope you enjoyed seeing these. :-)
    RetroToday - Click here to visit my vintage radio collection gallery

  2. #2
    kpreed
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    Great Looking Radio! Well Done.

  3. #3
    I'll Lock Up dhermann1's Avatar
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    Looks a lot like the Scott radios of the time. I have a 10 tube Zenith that I use all the time, with my SSTran AMT3000 low power transmitter. I would love to hear the sound quality on that set. What is the highest frequency response it's capable of? Radios with over about 16 tubes were called High Fidelity back then, but I often wonder what the quality really was. What was the frequency range of the broadcasts? Not much above 7,000 hertz, right? Hard to get real Hi Fi that way. Maybe there are other dimensions, like accuracy, that would be audible.
    It's a really gorgeous radios.
    "Hello. I'm Mr. Hardy, and this is my friend, Mr. Laurel."

  4. #4
    Call Me a Cab ScionPI2005's Avatar
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    That's a real beautiful radio, RT! Thanks for sharing!
    “Something doesn’t ring up right, but for two-hundred fish and expenses I’d play footsies with a cobra.” Richard Diamond

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    "A List" Customer RetroToday's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed the pics.

    E. H. Scott was McMurdo Silver's primary competition in the high-end market.
    They didn't like one another very much at all. Fiery articles were written by both of them in radio magazines telling of how horrible their competitor's radios were.
    In the end Scott won, but even his company's days were numbered as the TV crept into the spotlight.

    I haven't really delved to much into reading up on the audio capabilities of the components of the radio yet, but I know that for the time it was one of the best out there commercially available that was actually meant to be a 'living room' radio. I'm also still learning how radios work (when I can find the time), so most of it is still 'over my head', especially with a more complex radio like this.

    This might help, the dial is divided up into 5 bands:

    A. 150 - 400 Kilocycles (Unlabeled)
    B. 550 - 1800 Kilocycles (Police bands)
    C. 1800-5500 Kilocycles (Amateur bands)
    D. 5.75 - 19 Megacycles (Regular Broadcast bands)
    E. 17 - 70 Megacycles (Broadcast and "Apex Broadcast")

    I don't believe true High Fidelity radio broadcasts emerged until the 1950s when the FM we know today was put into popular use. AM broadcasts aren't quite capable of delivering a Hi Fi signal, are they?

    I was also told this radio is equipped with a line in for a phonograph. A record may use the high capabilities of the speaker more than a radio broadcast could at that time.
    RetroToday - Click here to visit my vintage radio collection gallery

  6. #6
    Bartender LizzieMaine's Avatar
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    The "Apex" band was a special AM broadcast band set aside for High Fidelity experimental stations in the late thirties, high fidelity in this case being about 30-15,000 cycles. Most regular AM radio stations could go as high as 8,000 cycles for local programs -- there was no legal bandwidth limit on AM broadcasting until the 1980s, but most network programs were limited by the telephone lines used to transmit them to a high end of about 5,000 cycles.
    The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error. -- William Jennings Bryan

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    I'll Lock Up dhermann1's Avatar
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    Very interesting

    So a high end radio would have been pretty much useless outside of the biggest cities? I tested my hearing once and it dropped off at about 13,000 hertz, way below the 20,000 modern Hi Fis have.
    Then again, there are many other factors in sound quality. I remember a columnist in Audio Magazine many years ago, who described a "High Fidelity" broadcast from the late 30's. They didn't understand room reverberation in those days, and thought that an orchestra should be broadcast from a totally dead room. The great NBC Orchestra, under Toscanini, used to broadcast from the same studio the Saturday Night Live now originates from. It was lined with sound absorbant material and had no resonance or reverb. The result was a totally lifeless sound. So even if they were getting the high frequencies, the sound must have been awful.
    That makes me wonder about the frequency response of my AT3000. I wonder what a Hi Fi signal from that into a 22 tube Scott or McMurdo would sound like.
    Gotta get me a high antique end tube radio, just gotta.
    "Hello. I'm Mr. Hardy, and this is my friend, Mr. Laurel."

  8. #8
    Call Me a Cab J. M. Stovall's Avatar
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    That is a really an amazing looking radio! Wow!
    J. M. S.
    A lot more Bing than Bogey

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    Incurably Addicted John in Covina's Avatar
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    Exclamation You are what you do.

    Fantastic radio!

    As to the owner committing suicide, it is often the way of men that have invested so much in their own dreams that when the dream crashes so do their lives. For men especially, we define ourselves by occupations a lot, we are what we do.
    Blue Skies!

  10. #10
    Rude Once Too Often
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    "I know, but came across thsi Elegant Crosley Nocturne





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