This Tinytone Crystal Radio was manufactured in 1959 by Western Manufacturing Co of Kearney, Nebraska. They also sold crystal radios under the name 'Midway Company' & Pakette Radio Co.
Western Manufacturing Co was founded by Paul Beshore and his brothers in the early 1940’s. The company grew out of the TinyTone Radio Corporation that was founded on the back of a crystal radio utilizing a prefixed crystal diode that Paul Beshore developed and patented in 1933. This tiny radio was about the size of a small matchbox and it was named the Tinytone.
The original Tinytone radio was advertised in Popular Mechanics and Mechanics Illustrated for $2.99. It consisted of a block of wood, with the crystal embedded in the block and sealed with pitch. The magnet wire was wound around the block. It also had a tuner dial and an earphone. Originally it was packaged in a cardboard pillbox obtained from the local drug store.
These crystal radios were marketed as ‘pocket radios’.
During World War II Western Manufacturing dedicated its plant to military production. After the war Western Manufacturing introduced a new style of crystal radio that sold well and remained almost unchanged for over 15 years as per the Tinytone radio featured here. The earliest of these was named the Pa-Kette. Western Manufacturing also sold crystal radios under the names Tiny-Mite, Pee Wee & Ti-Nee.
To see a list of crystal radio advertisements through the ages, including a few from Western Manufacturing, also known as Midway Company click here.
This Tinytone crystal radio features a Bakelite case. Bakelite was invented in 1909. It was the first plastic and is known as being rather brittle.
The Bakelite case is molded into two pieces and held together by screws. It is very small measuring just 81mm x 54mm. It fits easily into a shirt or vest pocket.
To improve portability the earphone is built into the case. The earphone looks like the speaker on a pocket transistor radio. Short wires for the antenna and ground emerge from the rear of the case and have clips at their end.
To listen simply attach one clip to a suitable antenna; a bed spring or large metal object etc and attach the other clip to a suitable ground then hold the set up to your ear!
Obviously it's not high fidelity, but to its intended market; children, it must have sounded magic!
These were later modified with the addition of a couple of reflexed transistors, a built in ferrite antenna and a wire for an external battery and sold by Midway Company as Shirt Pocket Transistor Radios.
This Tinytone Crystal Radio originally sold for $3.50. It comes with a 10 year guarantee and mine still works well after nearly 50 years! It also comes with the original mail order box, operating instructions, a 100 ft wire antenna, and two insulators.
The 100 ft wire antenna and two insulators.