Poll

How Should We Determine Magnavox Console Model Years

A "Console Model Year" Is the year it was introduced in the Magnavox Catalog/Brochures and first sold.
15 (51.7%)
A "Console Model Year" is the same as for cars, Fall 1957 Catalog models are 1958 models.
13 (44.8%)
Don't know, have no opinion.
1 (3.4%)

Total Members Voted: 29

Author Topic: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles  (Read 11646 times)

Pat L

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Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« on: October 04, 2014, 01:28:32 PM »
I'd like to propose we arrive as a group on the proper method for dating our Magnavox consoles. There is presently a great deal of inconsistency across the collector community in doing this.

Up until very recently I was quite content to date my consoles to the model year that they appeared in the Magnavox catalog. For instance my Provincial Cherry Concert Grand was introduced to the public in October 1959 (The two brochures that introduced this model are available on this site). I have thought of this console as a 1959 CG. If you look at the date codes on the components in my console they range from mid 1959 to early 1960. My console was obviously delivered to it's first owner sometime in 1960.

I was in a discussion that some of our members here may be aware of on ARF where a member contended that consoles were like cars, 1960 models were introduced in Fall of the previous year. It's an interesting and compelling argument because it's so normal with cars. Yet, I've never found any Magnavox literature that refers to their consoles as being made in a "model year".

I would like to propose to this group that we debate the issue and reach a consensus on dating these consoles so that we can properly organize our information.

Furthermore I propose that we refer to the consoles as to the year in which they were introduced for sale in the Magnavox catalogs and Brochures. If your Berkshire console first appeared in the 1957 Catalog, then we would refer to it as a 1957 Berkshire, regardless if it was made in early 1958. All consoles in the 1957 catalog share a similarity, they are all mono. If your Berkshire appeared in the 1958 Catalog, we would refer to it as a 1958 model. Again all consoles in the 1958 catalog share a similarity, they are all stereo.

I believe this approach will eliminate confusion and establish consistency across the collecting community. I think this is very important for the future for a number of reasons. These consoles are emerging from obscurity. They are becoming more valuable and more sought after everyday. Here at this site with our specific focus on consoles and especially Magnavox we are in a unique position of becoming the stewards for information on these wonderful instruments for the future.

The current owners of the Magnavox name have decided to play no role whatsoever in maintaining the history of the brand. I propose that we are in fact carrying on that legacy. Our focus on factual, historical information will be invaluable in this endeavor. I'd also like to thoroughly document the history of the Company over the years. Let's gather and publish the information that tells the story of the great company. Let's create a timeline and include where the company was located. Who ran the Company in various positions. We'll record when important models or features were introduced. We can gather pictures of the offices, factory, buildings, sales offices and showrooms, etc. Doing these things should greatly enrich the experience of owning, restoring, and using these Magnificent instruments.
Pat

Consoleman

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2014, 08:10:08 AM »
Can I assume my Berkshire is actually a '58?

Mark

Pat L

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2014, 08:23:21 AM »
No, the Berkshires in the 57 and 58 catalogs have glass tops and different speakers. Yours is older. Those part numbers are not date codes. The date code is after the P232 it's 536. That puts the speaker at 36th week of 1955. If the tubes are original they will have reliable date codes that may verify this. I think your console is from the 55 or 56 catalog. And we don't have those yet. Pat

Consoleman

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2014, 08:27:01 AM »
Very good info and another key to proper dating. :D
Mark

electra225

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2014, 08:41:58 AM »
My position on dating is that it is apparent to me that Magnavox went to great lengths to make dating their instruments difficult.  The catalogs that have been cited for use as reference are themselves not dated!  They are coded.  To document the documentation one must have access to informational literature sent to dealers that give reference to this material.  It is also a fact that Magnavox sold its instruments thru furniture dealers.  It is quite possible for an instrument built in 1959 to have sat unused in a furniture store, either as inventory or a display, and not sold until 1961.  It was important to Magnavox that this instrument not be "old" in the eyes of the customer.  I would propose, as a first step, that we figure out how to decipher the date codes, serial numbers, and model numbers.  I also feel that any dating done should be for historical prospective only.  You could say you have a Concert Grand, likely delivered to its first owner sometime in 1960, going by date codes.  I just think that attempting to absolutely date something that not only was not intended to be dated, but that the documentation used to date it is in itself dubiously dated, is a slippery slope.  Respectfully............GREG
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

Pat L

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2014, 09:19:07 AM »
True, much of the literature is cryptic in regards to dates. However we have catalogs from 1957, 58, and 59 along with key brochures into 1960 that are clearly dated. At least for the late 1950's we know Magnavox produced new models for the holiday selling seasons. As our collection of literature becomes more complete I would hope that we would be able to very accurately find which catalog a unit was listed in. As for the instrument series timelines, I'd like to be able to document them. Let's take the Berkshire for example, what catalog or year did it debut, what evolutions did it go through over the the time it was manufactured? I know that it was first listed with the sliding glass tops in the Fall 1957 catalog. I have no idea what year it was first introduced though. I have seen examples that I know were built in 1955 or 1956, based on the components in them. Like Greg pointed out, it's entirely possible that some consoles sat on display or languished in a warehouse or showroom. But, I would argue though that they sure didn't linger long at the Magnavox factories. No factories anywhere, particularly busy successful ones like Magnavox store product more than a few days.

If we look at the Continental series of instruments, we have a clearly defined product lineup in the Fall 1957 catalog. We again see them in the Fall 1958 catalog entirely redesigned for stereo. I think in this case it's very clear we can place those instruments into the proper category.

Let's keep collecting the catalogs, advertisements, press releases, brochures, etc. and fill in the holes. I'm still kicking myself in the rear for missing out on a 1956 catalog two weeks ago. I was outbid the last day of the auction and I didn't notice until it was too late. I was hoping it was a member of this site that acquired it. But, since it hasn't been shared yet that doesn't seem to be the case.
Pat
« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 09:20:44 AM by Pat L »

electra225

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2014, 10:02:08 AM »
My area of concentration has been with the stereo instruments.  The 1963 catalog in "Downloads" shows both tube and solid state models being sold in 1963.  It appears they have removed the series designations and refers to them by their cabinet style.  Listing serial numbers, how to read date codes, where they are commonly found, and then deciphering model numbers would be a great help.  My 2ST653 is listed in the '63 catalog as a 1ST653.  It is available as a 1ST254 with "stereo FM", aka a Multiplex adapter.  Would it make sense to say something like the "1" would represent the Run number, the "S" for stereo, the "T" for console, the "6" for amplifier, the "5" for tuner, and the "3" for series less Multiplex adapter.  A different last digit would be used for factory Multiplex.  One of these numbers may represent cabinet style.  This may not be dead on, but something like that.  Best..........GREG
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KaimanaStar

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2014, 06:12:31 AM »
Random observations on this topic, a 1975 antique radio book I have mentions a Miss Judy Cooper in regard to Magnavox historical archives. Once upon a time, they cared. As noted, the current owners of the Magnavox name clearly do not care. There is a museum in Greeneville, Tennessee, a private collection also in Greeneville, and a private museum in Cummings, Georgia. All of them encompass the tube era and beyond. There was a Ron Lane who answered a rambling letter I sent him back in the 1970's. He was short and to the point about Magnavox historical archives. "There is no such thing". I feel that if a company doesn't want to acknowledge it's past, it doesn't care about it's product. And I know they're in business to sell current products and make money, not answer reams of questions about outdated product or produce outdated ephemera. I'm looking forward to seeing things here that none of us ever dreamed would see the light of day again. I'd love to see dealer pictures, inside and outside, just for one request.

electra225

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2014, 09:20:45 AM »
Your comment about Magnavox not having any archival information is well-taken.  But we can take heart in the fact that there has already been more documentation collected on this forum in the last couple of months than I have seen in all my 64 years.  When Philips bought Magnavox in 1974, it was to acquire their video gaming system and government contracts.  The rest of Magnavox went into the dumpster.  Their products certainly reflected that attitude.  Magnavox is now a brand built my Funai in the Orient, presumably China.  I have every confidence that the dedicated collectors on this forum can bring together bits and pieces and compile a history of Magnavox that will serve other collectors for years to come.  The original Magnavox company cared for their product so much that it may have brought down the house.  It is a tough company to archive. But we must remember that they were in the electronics business, not running a museum.
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Consoleman

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2014, 09:55:45 AM »
If you click this link you'll find over 200 Magnavox magazine ads. It may help in dating consoles, the Berkshire shows up in a '56 ad.

http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/search?q=magnavox
Mark

Pat L

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2014, 12:14:26 PM »
Hi Mark, I have looked through those ads and I agree they may be helpful. I was surprised at the lack of console ads for the 1950-1955 period. It seems like most of the ads for that period focused on tv's. I suppose the ad collection may be incomplete, or perhaps it's reflective of where Magnavox spent their advertising dollars.

Harbourmaster

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2014, 01:46:34 PM »
My position on dating is that it is apparent to me that Magnavox went to great lengths to make dating their instruments difficult.  [SNIP] 
It is quite possible for an instrument built in 1959 to have sat unused in a furniture store, either as inventory or a display, and not sold until 1961.  It was important to Magnavox that this instrument not be "old" in the eyes of the customer.  {SNIP]
I just think that attempting to absolutely date something that not only was not intended to be dated, but that the documentation used to date it is in itself dubiously dated, is a slippery slope.  Respectfully............GREG

I agree with Greg on this.

It seems fairly clear that Consoles were not exactly like cars, in that the dealer would not necessarily have made a big push to clear his inventory each year before the new models arrived.

The other thing is that we can only guess at how long parts sat in inventory before they were assembled into a console. Without knowing a LOT more info about the actual manufacturing process for individual components, even this becomes extremely tricky! For instance, where the speakers manufactured at the same site that the consoles were assembled or where they built somewhere else, thereby necessitating some time in packing/shipping/transport/receiving/inventory, before actual assembly into a cabinet?

By looking at the date codes on as many components as possible we can at least come up with a "time frame" that the pieces were manufactured in and could possibly extrapolate an approximate time frame but I fear that we will not get any closer than that without some direct knowledge of the processes involved.
-- Aloha, Ken

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electra225

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2014, 02:39:11 PM »
I agree absolutely with Ken on this!  If you look at the documentation provided above, the items are dated in the explanation below them, but very few of the ACTUAL documents are dated.  If we use advertising to date instruments, we first need to document the advertising for accuracy.  How can we expect accurate dating, which, by the way, was not intended by Magnavox, when the documents themselves are of dubious accuracy?  You guys should go to a judged car show and see what the judges expect for factory documentation.  I had to document three times the documentation on Buick engine dress up kits for a '65 Buick one time.  I don't care whether we date or don't date, but I hope that whatever method is finalized is accurate.  If you want bs and guessing, there are other forums for that.  We are doing a great job here so far. 
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

AMP82-01-00

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2014, 06:46:30 PM »
I base year off the newest component in the console. Then the brochure year.


For instance I have a imperial that by the brochure should be a 1961. The speaker date code is 039  for 39th week of 1960. I figure since the componets were built very late in the year and it took time to assemble and be tested and delivered. so I call it a 1961.

To me this is the best way.
David        "If it ain't interesting, its really just boring"

Pat L

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Re: Properly Dating Magnavox Consoles
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2014, 10:13:17 PM »
Dave, I agree with you completely on how you date consoles. By looking at the component build codes it's relatively easy to get a ballpark age for an instrument. I guess what I was thinking was this: if we refer to them by their catalog listing years it would be easier for most people and eliminate confusion on identifying models.

I'm attaching an advertisement from 1955 that was provided by Consoleman. In this ad Magnavox very clearly talks about their 1955 models. We still don't have enough information to tie that to a specific catalog though.

I think as we gather more information this will become less of an issue. Pat