ECKO M23 Radio
A magnificent and superb condition EKCO M23 radio with Bakelite case, designed by J K White of EKCO in 1932 and manufactured by E.K.Cole Ltd. from 1933. Its clean-lined, modern architectural shape reminds us of an Art Deco building. More importantly, this receiver was one of the first Bakelite radios on the market - just a year earlier, all radio housings were made of wood. It is fitted with a modern three pin plug and has a plug-in wire aerial.
The streamline front has a three panel cut-away central section, and this contains the speaker, concealed behind a woven fabric screen. Below the speaker are three circular tuning knobs. Another semi-circular section is cut out of the upper half of the case, revealing long-wave and medium-wave tuning dials for the wireless behind it. This is a rare radio, an important example of 1930s modernism, and it is extremely hard to find one in such wonderful condition. In fact, it is of museum quality.
Looking like something straight out of Fritz Lang's 1922 expressionist film Metropolis, this pioneering radio symbolised worldwide electronic communications. Its futuristic look was in tune with a period marked by enthusiasm for the anticipated benefits of a Machine Age. For the first time since its original entry into the home as a disguised scientific toy, the radio was now being presented for what it really was; a machine for entertainment and enlightenment. For all its obvious symbolism and its honesty in design, this celebrated radio can also be seen as being heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement which was becoming increasingly popular. Retailed in 1933 at £17 /17, its equivalent price today would be near £3,500 when compared to the yearly wage of the average worker.
Up until the beginning of the 1930s, the wireless - as it was known back then - was of considerable size and imitated cabinet furniture. Technological advances, coupled with the introduction of plastics, allowed more compact sets; and when in 1931 the BBC built modernist studios, home radio styles followed suit.
EKCO was founded by Eric Kirkham Cole in the 1920s. The company was based in Prittlewell, Southend from 1930 until the 1970s. EKCO was a major employer in Southend with thousands of people working in the factory, design studios and offices. It was one of the first companies to use Bakelite in the construction of radio cabinets, having failed to find success with ‘traditional' wooden wireless sets. The company made the bold decision in 1930 to begin selling plastic cabinets. EKCO initially purchased its Bakelite cabinets from German company AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitats Gesellschaft). Yet by 1931 had established its own Bakelite moulding shop adjacent to its Southend On Sea works, and brought in famous architects such as Serge Chermayeff and Wells Coates to design them. EKCO's radios of the 1930s have become Art Deco design classics, and the M23 is one of them.
Country of origin: UK
Manufacturer: E. K. Cole Ltd, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK
Designer: J K White
Cabinet material: Bakelite and woven cloth
Height 41cm Width 36cm Depth 25cm
Condition: immaculate. Completely restored, with front cloth replaced, and in pristine condition; this is a particularly clean example of this model. Purchased from a renowned collector - who spent his years restoring the radios in his collection - it appears to be in working condition, as we have had not on and tuned it in to a radio station. It will only pick up a signal if the radio wave frequency is available and does not operate with the quality of today's radios.
Price does not include delivery.
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