So - this little $5 radio. It has a funny brand name - Philharmonic. I’ve been interested in radios and hi-fi gear since I was a kid. I used to buy old stuff at hamfests, and worked 5 years at a Mom and Pop TV sales & service shop while in college.
I’d never heard of a Philharmonic. Turns out this was a brand started by Avery Fisher. I didn’t immediately recognize his name. I learned Avery Fisher was a graphic artist (maybe responsible for the funky number eights on this radio?), and amateur violinist who loved music so much that he wanted to build his own high-quality hi-fi gear. Philharmonic was Avery Fishers first company, which he sold in 1945 (six years before this radio was produced in 1951).
His second company was the Fisher brand (that one I remember!) which produced the first solid-state amplifier in the 1960s. The Fisher company was sold in 1969 to Emerson which then it sold to Sanyo. Sanyo pretty much killed the brand by slapping it on cheap quality gear (I remember telling many a Fisher owner in the 80’s to not bother with the repair costs as the units were junk).
And Avery? He became a philanthropist and donated over $10M to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra which named a music hall for him in Lincon Center in 1973.
Mr. Fisher passed away in 1994 at the age of 87.
Good story right? Turns it it doesn’t end there.
In early November 2014, Lincoln Center officials announced their intention to remove Avery Fisher’s name from the Hall and sell its naming rights to the highest bidder as part of a $500 million fund-raising campaign for its refurbishment. In order to free up the naming Lincoln Center negotiated a $15M buyout from Avery Fisher’s three children.
Avery Fisher’s legacy will live on by being inducted into the Lincoln Center Hall of Fame and through the continuation of an Avery Fisher Artist Program which awards prizes to established American instrumentalists and career grants to emerging young artists.
And through this little $5 flea market radio.
I bought this for a Vintage Tech Revisions project. VintageTechRevisions is my way of regaining a hobby while traveling fulltime. I’ve already used the parts from this radio and another couple of pieces to produce a couple of steampunk sculptures.
This radio was in worse shape than it looks on first blush. The speaker was shot, the tuning mechanism frozen up, and the clock didn’t work. It looks to have sat in water for a while.