Monday, July 21, 2014

Richardson "5" Update

Thanks to members of the excellent Antique Radio Forums and to a Mr Richardson (No relation, I think) I have found out more about the history of this receiver. It turns out that the set had been restored in the past from fairly sad shape after being purchased at an AWA swap meet in New York.

Underneath the top desk of the radio is the text "Oct.17.1996 Billy Richardson" which confirmed that the radio had originally passed though his hands while being brought back to life.

However I'll let Mr Billy Richardson tell the story in his own words:

I'm guilty of owning the Richardson "5", guys. It was in poor condition when I bought it in an AWA swap meet in New York way back there years ago. I restored it to the best of my ability to its original condition a few years later. It was not a restoration that had anything special going for it, so it was never shown in any of the contests around the country. It was working OK when I finished it, but I can understand why it doesn't work now.

To the best of my recollection, Richardson radios were first advertised as a superheterodyne kit. Their main feature was "self evident wiring", or something like that. Naturally. they didn't get away with selling a superheterodyne kit and the next and only ad I saw after that was a small one for the Richardson "5". It used the same type of wiring.

Here again I speak from a poor memory, but the wiring for this set is one long piece of rubber coated flexible wire. Along its entire length it has lugs that simply pierce the rubber cover to make an electrical contact. Not a good thing, because only one or two strands of wire may be making contact and a wee bit of oxidation is all it would take to break the connection. This was the case with the original wire, which was also hard and brittle. I replaced it with NOS flexible wire that looked exactly the same. The finished job is an ugly sight, just like the original. All the lugs are spaced an equal distant along the wire, regardless of how far it has to go to the next connection and most of the wire is too long for those connections. In other words, it's a jumbled up mess of wire and not something to be proud of.

I recognized the photo of this set immediately as being mine because of the label under the lid. There was enough of the original left to make a good copy and I thought the reproduction turned out real well.

Billy Richardson

Alan Douglas of the Antique Radio Forums found a clipping from Radio Retailer & Jobber Oct.1925 which told of Mr Richardson's exit from the Richardson Radio Corporation. Given the very short period where any advertisements were made it seems like this corporation didn't last very long at all, perhaps only a year or two at most. In the Radio News of 1925 the January issue has quite a large advertisement while the December issue has only the smallest note possible ... perhaps a sign that things were not going particularly well.

The only additional information I could find regarding either the Richardson Radio Corporation or Mr Richardson himself come from the clipping of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, August 1936.

Unfortunately it concerns what must have been his early death and does not specify the cause which would have been appropriate at the time.

DAVID WELLES RICHARDSON '22
The Class records with deep sorrow the death of our classmate, David W. Richardson, who died at his home in Mt. Kisko on July 16.
Dave spent the first two years out of college in the radio business. He helped organize WOR and was the president of the Richardson Radio, Inc.
He then entered the employ of Joseph P. Day and for five years was head of the private sales department. About a year ago he entered the brokerage business with Harris, Upham & Co. and on July 1 entered the employ of Eastman, Dillon & Co.
Dave was married in 1932 and has a son, David Welles Richardson, Jr. To his widow, his son, and his father we extend our deepest sympathy with the assurance that we will not soon forget him.
    For the Class of 1922
    William E. Stevenson, President
    G. M. L. LaBranche
    Hunt T. Dickinson
    Robert Buechner, Secretary. 
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