Author Topic: Ebony 1950's Bell & Howell Model 872 - Paul McCobb design  (Read 2934 times)


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Ebony 1950's Bell & Howell Model 872 - Paul McCobb design
« on: August 31, 2015, 08:15:44 PM »
I'm putting this one here rather than the "Sightings" section because unfortunately I was not able to acquire this console but still thought it was worth sharing with the group. 

If you have read through the posts here you know that there are at least 3 members here that own Bell & Howell or Columbia Masterworks consoles with cabinets designed by Paul McCobb.  While browsing CL at the beginning of August I saw a B&H Model 872 in an innocuous listing in the Electronics category for a "vintage hi-fi record player" with no mention of the brand name, model number or the designer.

The listing simply said something along the lines of 1950's vintage hi-fi, record player with reel to reel tape.

$400 or Best offer.

But...  There were three things about this ad that really made it jump out at me. The first was that this console was in an EBONY cabinet in what looked to be mint condition. The second was that there was an Amplified Stereo Extension Speaker in a Matching Cabinet! The third was that the location of the listing, Rancho Palos Verdes Estates, is a very ritzy seaside community were you would expect to find a high end piece like this.

I attempted to contacted the seller at least half a dozen times using various gmail "email" addresses without any response at all. after 2 days I finally resorted to sending an email from my work address and was rewarded with the following reply:

"Thanks Ken,  what did you want to offer?  I have not powered it up but was told it works.  Its currently in an empty house.  do you still want it if I can't turn it on?

UGGGH! With the seller fishing for offers I figured that I didn't have a very good chance of getting this but held out some hope that if I offered the asking price of $400 they might accept it. So I replied that I would pay the asking price, working or not... in order to give the unit a good home and keep it from being gutted and sold in pieces on eBay. And said that if they got any higher offers I would appreciate being allowed to make a counter-offer in a higher amount.

About half an hour latter I got this reply:

"Oh, by the way, I checked with my assistant and yes it did power up.  I don't think she tried playing a record or using a tape (it's reel to reel on the right side. ) But it did power on.
One more additional trivia about this.  Way back in the 60's when it was purchased, it had apparently been ordered by Walt Disney - but he never picked  it up - so it was purchased by my client.  Fun eh?


Excited by the speed of this response after having waited for days to get a reply in the first place I quickly responded back that I was glad to hear that the unit powered on, but warned that if the console had not been in regular use they should refrain from powering it up again without it being serviced or they were risking burning up potentially unobtainable parts.

I also inquired if there was any documentation to support the "Disney" story, if not then it's just a nice story.

Three or 4 days passed without any reply and then the listing disappeared from CL. Sadly, I wrote once more asking if the unit was sold, and if so, would they mind telling me what the price was so that I might be better informed as to it's value if another one were ever to show up for sale, but I got no response.

So that is my sad tale of the Ebony Bell and Howell model 872 that got away.   :'(

Uncharacteristically for me, it seems that I failed to save a screen shot of the listing but I did copy the pictures which I present here.
-- Aloha, Ken

No Console Left Behind!


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Re: Ebony 1950's Bell & Howell Model 872 - Paul McCobb design
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2015, 09:10:12 PM »
Ken,  sorry to hear they walked away without even trying to negotiate a price with you.  I still think, the way this ended, that it may appear again.  It just doesn't make sense.  That is the most perfect Bell & Howell/Columbia Masterwork console I think I've ever seen.  Looks like it just came off of the showroom floor...and with the very hard to find extension speaker!  I did capture a screen shot of the CL advertisement and posted it below. 

Pat L

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Re: Ebony 1950's Bell & Howell Model 872 - Paul McCobb design
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2015, 07:34:46 PM »
Ken, I was really hoping this would happen for you. Let's hope that it resurfaces, I've seen it happen many times before.


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Re: Ebony 1950's Bell & Howell Model 872 - Paul McCobb design
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2015, 10:27:32 AM »
This looks similar to the Columbia unit that was on Craigslist a few months ago that belonged to Johnny Horton for $250.

vintage cltr

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Re: Ebony 1950's Bell & Howell Model 872 - Paul McCobb design
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2015, 10:31:24 AM »

I feel your pain. This is the "white whale" or Mount Rushmore of consoles..

Loud and Vintage.... any questions?