Author Topic: Bell and Howell Model 850 HiFi  (Read 2694 times)

vintage cltr

  • Global Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 353
  • they're real and they're spectacular
    • View Profile
Bell and Howell Model 850 HiFi
« on: December 28, 2015, 08:52:33 AM »
Sorry for not posting sooner, work and the holidays have taken a lot of my time.

Well, Christmas came early this year for me. I have been wanting a Bell -N- Howell forever. The last one (only one) I have ever found was 6 years ago. Unfortunately, that one had one foot in the grave, but very part-able. So, the decision was made to part the unit. From that day I was hooked. I vowed to find another one.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, Pat contacts me and tells me a story of guy who has a Bell -N- Howell that he would like to sell, since he was moving. At first I was skeptical, since there were no pictures and/or model #'s.

Pictures followed, and although in pieces, it was complete. The second best news was the guy was only 2 hours away from me in Chicago.

After reaching a price with the seller, Pat and I sent off for out trek.

When we arrived, it was better than I thought. Everything was there and the unit was very complete. Not bad for 60 years.

Cabinet is set to be fully restored along with the electronics.

Looks to a fairly light restoration.

« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 09:29:32 PM by Pat L »
Loud and Vintage.... any questions?


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 704
  • Southeastern PA
    • View Profile
Re: Bell and Howell model 850 hifi
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2015, 02:33:41 PM »
Congrats, have fun with it!


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 510
    • View Profile
Re: Bell and Howell model 850 hifi
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2015, 06:43:59 PM »
Great find.  In your picture it looks like there are 2 large transformers sticking up one being bigger than the other.  Is this a mono unit?


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2329
  • Long Beach, CA 90808
    • View Profile
Re: Bell and Howell model 850 hifi
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2015, 05:41:23 PM »

Nice score!!!

Cabinet looks pretty rough... hope the electronics are in better shape!
-- Aloha, Ken

No Console Left Behind!

Pat L

  • Founder of the Board
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
  • Southeastern Wisconsin
    • View Profile
Re: Bell and Howell model 850 hifi
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2015, 09:28:44 PM »
The console is indeed mono. This particular unit was manufactured in 1956. It truly epitomizes the pinnacle of 1950's mono hifi and style. The cabinet is indeed challenged here and there, but it is 100% original and intact. It's made of heavy furniture grade thick veneer mahogany plywoods & solids. Since the entire piece is comprised of flat surfaces it will be relatively easy for a furniture restorer to bring back to excellence. The console is the top model they offered without a RTR player. It contains a 20 watt amplifier powered by a pair of 5881 tubes (in the famous Williamson circuit). The console was essentially hand built in Chicago and I believe this is roughly the 320th ever made (in their entire lineup). Tracy will need to share a picture of the serialized data plate. This thing cost a thousand dollars new!

The speakers are original Jensen's, comprised of two 12" drivers and one RP103 horn. The record changer is the original Garrard, it's rubber mat is still soft and pliable.

The electronics look very restorable, and in fact have recently worked, albeit poorly (according to the seller). In any case the chassis's are all made of heavy gauge aluminum and besides being a bit dirty look excellent. It's mostly unmolested and even still has all the pencil notations present on each component (dates and builder initials). As I have mentioned to the group before, I have original spares for everything if needed. In my search for my own unit I acquired two complete sets of parts before I found an intact console. Tracy is checking out professional furniture restorers and I will lead the electronic restoration. We look forward to sharing the progress with the group.

I know this isn't everyones cup of tea.... That said, it's a rare and classic piece designed by Paul McCobb. That's the finest pedigree that exists for Mid Century Modern furniture. The quality of the components are second to none, they remind me of those expensive British units by Leak, or the top of the line stuff by Mac or Fisher. Pat


  • Guest
Re: Bell and Howell Model 850 HiFi
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2015, 12:43:58 AM »
I can't see the sides or the top of the set, but those vertical deep scratches in the front of the cabinet look intentional by some kid with a knife or sharp object.  If it weren't for that, it could be gone over with Minwax stain and made to look pretty good.