Radio Chassis Housed in Dynamite Box

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Photo By Clell Ballard
A homemade radio housing made to hold a commercially manufactured chassis. It worked as well as one with an expensive factory cabinet but cost much less.

Radios dating to
the 1920s are unusual today. Occasionally one with a beautifully crafted
cabinet is found; such pieces are prized by collectors. But that fine
craftsmanship came at a cost that few could afford. Those on a tight budget made
do, building a homemade cabinet to hold the manufactured radio chassis.

Just such a piece
was found at a long abandoned homestead in a sparsely populated part of
southern Idaho.
The top of the enclosure was broken and the whole thing was almost completely
covered with bird droppings. Later, as it was being cleaned and the case
repaired, it was discovered that the wood came from a dynamite box. The
dynamite maker’s name is prominently displayed on the inside surface of the

The round opening for the speaker presented a
challenge for the home craftsman, who was unable to make the circle perfectly
uniform. The cabinet’s front is, however, a nearly identical replica of a piece
manufactured by Zenith, complete with parallel bars in the center. The maker
probably had a picture of a factory cabinet that he did his best to replicate.

Read about the early days of radio in rural America in Radio Sets Brought News Faster Than Ever To Rural America.

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