The Silvertone 4787
By Yuriy Yedidovich CRC Member
The Silvertone 4787
This beautiful radio with unique design built by Colonial Radio Co, in 1937.
The cabinet manufactured by …. Eleven tubes (6B8G, 6L7G, 6J5G, 6J7G, 2-6K7G, 6H6G, 2-6V6G, 6U5, and 5X4G), 12 “ speaker, three band. Special features are AFC (automatic frequency control), the automatic tuning dial, tuning eye, and the acoustic stabilizer.
Magnificent “Roll Over” dial with separate tuning bands. The dial band separation is a big deal at that time, the majority of dials displayed all bands in once.
The Acoustic Stabilizer
This feature Sears introduced in 1937 and built in five models 4687, 4688, 4787, 4788 and 4799. The acoustic stabilizer is a two large empty chambers and two long holes on each side of cabinet. The modern term for this holes are a speakers phase inverter.
From Sears Ad.
A Sears Engineering Development built as an integral part of the cabinet, eliminates the “Boom” or “Barrel” sound so noticeable in many other radios.
The Perfect Cabinet Design
The perfect design is a design where you can describe any line or element. I think this cabinet is an excellent example of perfect design and belongs to the Industrial Art textbook.
First, let’s look what it says on the 1938 Silvertone advertisement brochure about this 4787 model.
A Brilliant Instrument in Skilled Artistry and Fine Features
True artistry has dictated to give you something new in fine cabinet styling, in more pronounced form of exotic marquetry. It’s richly figured surfaces are transparently finished to give the fine cabinet woods full opportunity to display their ornamental richness.
Here are my thoughts about the marvelous cabinet design.
The cabinet is divided in five functional areas:
Dial-Visual controls, Preset-Tuning, Controls, Grill, Stand base areas. (1)
First, four functional areas beautifully frame with an upside-down parabola. (2)
Visually, the upside-down parabola looks unstable on such a thin base, but the middle grill bar clamps together the controls, grill, base areas and make it one solid unit. (3)
All areas are well proportioned. The areas have different sizes, but none of them dominate over another.
The large barrel dial, the green tuning indicator, and the tone and volume visual control areas are perfectly visible from a standing position. The dial area is a combination of a dark steel color metal foreground with golden accent and warm plastic. Every functional zone on the dial area is very well separated from the others; this means that the dial area gives you a clear picture on the current state of all controls.
The Preset-Tuning area is wider than the others areas (I don’t count the grill area). This area is decorated with a beautiful walnut veneer. The preset station telephone dial and the tuning knob are visually much larger than the other control knobs. Everything above gives a controlling confidence of tuning power.
The controls area is sunken slightly (deeper than the cabinet front surface), but perfectly visible and accessible. The control area has a clear boundary, which gives a feeling of precision and control.
The middle grill bar is decorated with a V-shaped veneer that gives a sense of movement. The speaker grill area is shaped like a parabola. It is a smoother and more beautiful shape for sound than square, rectangle, or even circle.
Usually the base is a less important element of the consol cabinet and doesn’t play an important decorative role in the cabinet design, but not here. A very dark, almost black, horizontal stripe is the focal point of the base and it is the basic visual reinforcement point and point of stability. Additionally, the base is a not a stand-alone element of the cabinet, the base is cemented to the cabinet with the central grill bar.
Left and right cabinet sides are soft and plain with no spatial decorative elements except for two sharp long holes on each side of the cabinet, this creates a perfect balance of contrast with the busiest, middle part of the cabinet.
And finally… All of the functional areas are held together within this tight, almost-invisible parabola line. Follow this line and you will feel a joy for the perfect cabinet design.