Philco for 1939 (introduced June 1938)

Overview

Philco's new 1939 mod­el line was dra­mat­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent from its pre­vi­ous offer­ings. New, stream­lined cab­i­nets housed very dif­fer­ent chas­sis; only a few table mod­els bore any resem­blance to 1938 mod­els.

This was the year Philco intro­duced the industry's first wire­less remote con­trol. Philco dubbed it Mys­tery Con­trol and tried to keep the tech­ni­cal aspects of its oper­a­tion a secret, even going so far as to claim in its adver­tis­ing that it was "not a radio beam," when in fact it was! The remote unit sent a pulse mod­u­lat­ed sig­nal which was set at a fre­quen­cy between 350 and 400 kc to the main receiv­er, which received the sig­nal, processed the infor­ma­tion and per­formed the desired oper­a­tion by either switch­ing to one of eight pre­set AM sta­tions, turn­ing the vol­ume up or down, or turn­ing the set off. It should be not­ed that you could not turn the set on with the remote.

With all the hoopla sur­round­ing its new Mys­tery Con­trol, Philco qui­et­ly dropped its High Fideli­ty research; no more High Fideli­ty receivers were built by the com­pa­ny.

Philco's pre­vi­ous auto­mat­ic tun­ing meth­ods were also dropped in 1939; instead, push­but­ton tun­ing was adopt­ed. The push­but­tons, for the most part, worked much bet­ter than Philco's pre­vi­ous auto­mat­ic tun­ing schemes had. The excep­tions were Mod­els 39-17, 39-18, 39-19 and 39-75, which employed a mechan­i­cal push­but­ton method; all oth­er Philco mod­els with push­but­tons used the more pre­cise elec­tron­ic push­but­ton tun­ing.

1939 was the year Philco intro­duced two new series: Tran­si­tone and Trop­ic. Tran­si­tone was not a new name; it orig­i­nal­ly was the trade­mark of Auto­mo­bile Radio Cor­po­ra­tion, which Philco acquired in 1930. Between then and 1938, Philco Tran­si­tone was an auto radio. Begin­ning with the 1939 sea­son, how­ev­er, Philco intro­duced two low-priced table mod­els which did not car­ry the Philco name at all - only the name Tran­si­tone.

Philco Trop­ic was a new series of radios, made chiefly for export to trop­i­cal areas such as Cen­tral Amer­i­ca. These sets had coils and chas­sis which were designed to with­stand extremes in humid­i­ty.

Accord­ing to var­i­ous Philco doc­u­men­ta­tion, most mod­els of 38-12, 38-14 and 38-15 sets were retained in the new 1939 line­up; how­ev­er, I have yet to see one of these labeled "39-12," "39-14," etc. A very like­ly pos­si­bil­i­ty is that Philco may have had left­over stock of these mod­els and sim­ply sold them, com­plete with "38-12" etc. stick­ers on the inside, until they were gone.

Model Index

The fol­low­ing mod­els remained in the Philco line­up: 38-12CB (as 39-12CB), 38-12CBI (as 39-12CBI), 38-12T (as 39-12T), 38-14CB (as 39-14CB), 38-14CBI (as 39-14CBI), 38-14T (as 39-14T), 38-15CB (as 39-15CB), 38-15CBI (as 39-15CBI), 38-15T (as 39-15T). All oth­er 1938 Philco mod­els were dis­con­tin­ued.

Click on a thumb­nail to see infor­ma­tion and pho­tos for each mod­el:

The 1939 Philco Line

39-6C 39-6C, undoc­u­ment­ed vari­ant 39-6CI 39-7C 39-7T 39-7CS 39-8T
39-17T 39-17F 39-18T 39-18F 39-19T 39-19F 39-25T
39-25XF 39-30T 39-30XX 39-31XF 39-35XX 39-36XX 39-40XX
39-45XX 39-50RX 39-55RX 39-70B 39-70F 39-71T 39-75T
39-75F 39-80B 39-80XF 39-85B 39-85XF 39-116RX

1939 Tran­si­tone Mod­els

TH-1 TH-3

1939 Philco Trop­ic Mod­els

39-711T 39-720T 39-744T, 39-750T & 39-751T 39-744XX, 39-750XX & 39-751XX 39-770T & 39-2770T 39-770XX & 39-2770XX

Models

The 1939 Philco Line

Model 39-6C

Model 39-6C - Image courtesy of Art Hoch.

A new five-tube com­pact table mod­el which used a chas­sis which was near­ly iden­ti­cal to the pre­vi­ous season's Mod­el 38-12. It oper­at­ed on 115 volts AC and cov­ered the AM band.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $19.95

Num­ber made: 34,025 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­el 39-6CI)


Model 39-6C, undocumented variant

Model 39-6C, undocumented variant

Pho­to cour­tesy John Baratono

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: Unknown


Model 39-6CI

Model 39-6CI - Image courtesy of Kim Bowers.

Suc­ces­sor to the 1938 Mod­el 38-12CI, this mod­el was oth­er­wise iden­ti­cal to the 39-6C above.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $25

Num­ber made: 34,025 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­el 39-6C)


Model 39-7C

Model 39-7C - Image courtesy of Don Lindsly.
Model 39-7C

The new 39-7 was, basi­cal­ly, a 39-6 with the addi­tion of elec­tron­ic push­but­ton tun­ing.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $23.50

Num­ber made: 47,809


Model 39-7T

Model 39-7T - Image courtesy of Jeffrey Goldstein.

Intend­ed to be a more styl­ish ver­sion of the 39-7; this mod­el includ­ed a bezel sur­round­ing the dial with a glass cov­er in place of the plas­tic dial cov­er used on the 39-7C.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $27.50

Num­ber made: 23,998 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­el 39-8T)


Model 39-7CS

Model 39-7CS - Image courtesy of Thomas Spiegle.

A chair­side ver­sion of Mod­el 39-7; this cab­i­net had been pre­vi­ous­ly used with 1938 mod­els 38-14CS & 38-15CS. The 39-7 received the AM band only, but includ­ed Philco's new elec­tron­ic push­but­ton tun­ing.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: 8,600 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of June 1937 Mod­els 38-14CS & 38-15CS)


Model 39-8T

Model 39-8T - Image courtesy of Paul Turney.

An AC/DC ver­sion of Mod­el 39-6. The 39-8 used five tubes plus a bal­last, and received the AM band only.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $25

Num­ber made: 23,998 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­el 39-7T)


Model 39-17T

Model 39-17T

One of four Philco Mod­els to use mechan­i­cal push­but­tons which moved the tun­ing con­denser to dif­fer­ent pre­set spots on the dial. The oth­ers were Mod­els 39-18, 39-19 & 39-75. The 39-17 used five tubes, oper­at­ed on 115 volts AC, and received the AM band.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $29.95

Num­ber made: 40,305 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-18T, 39-19T & 39-75T as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117T, 39-118T, 39-119T & 39-175T)


Model 39-17F

Model 39-17F

A con­sole ver­sion of Mod­el 39-17.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $39.95

Num­ber made: 28,938 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-18F, 39-19F, 39-70F & 39-75F as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117F, 39-118F, 39-119F & 39-175F)


Model 39-18T

Model 39-18T

An AC/DC ver­sion of Mod­el 39-17.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $29.95

Num­ber made: 40,305 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-17T, 39-19T & 39-75T as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117T, 39-118T, 39-119T & 39-175T)


Model 39-18F

Model 39-18F

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $39.95

Num­ber made: 28,938 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-17F, 39-19F, 39-70F & 39-75F as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117F, 39-118F, 39-119F & 39-175F)


Model 39-19T

Model 39-19T

Mod­el 39-19 added a short­wave band (5.5 to 19 mc) to its AM cov­er­age. It oper­at­ed on 115 volts AC, and used five tubes.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $35

Num­ber made: 40,305 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-17T, 39-18T & 39-75T as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117T, 39-118T, 39-119T & 39-175T)


Model 39-19F

Model 39-19F

The con­sole ver­sion of Mod­el 39-19.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $49.95

Num­ber made: 28,938 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-17F, 39-18F, 39-70F & 39-75F as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117F, 39-118F, 39-119F & 39-175F)


Model 39-25T

Model 39-25T
Model 39-25T - Image courtesy of Terry Judkins.

Philco had intro­duced inclined con­trol pan­els on many of its 1938 Mod­el con­soles. Now, they offered table mod­els with this fea­ture. The 39-25 used five tubes and offered eight elec­tron­ic push­but­tons to com­ple­ment its two band cov­er­age of AM and 4.9 to 18 mc short­wave. It oper­at­ed on 115 volts AC.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $48

Num­ber made: 30,330


Model 39-25XF

Model 39-25XF

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $62.95

Num­ber made: 25,255 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-80XF & 39-85XF)


Model 39-30T

Model 39-30T - Image courtesy of Ryan Meldahl.

A six tube Philco table mod­el with an inclined con­trol pan­el, it was very sim­i­lar to the 39-25.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $58

Num­ber made: 22,050


Model 39-30XX

Model 39-30XX
Model 39-30XX

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $72.95

Num­ber made: Unknown


Model 39-31XF

Model 39-31XF

The 39-31 used the same chas­sis as the 39-30; six tubes, eight push­but­tons, AM and short­wave from 4.9 to 18 mc; and oper­at­ed on 115 volts AC.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $69.95

Num­ber made: 19,590


Model 39-35XX

Model 39-35XX

Yet anoth­er mod­el that used the same chas­sis as the 39-30.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $82.95

Num­ber made: 15,842


Model 39-36XX

Model 39-36XX

This new Philco con­sole used thumb­wheel con­trols and six tubes. It also had eight elec­tron­ic push­but­tons for pre­set AM sta­tions. It could also tune the entire AM band as well as short­wave from 5 to 18 mc. Pow­er required was 115 volts AC.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $82.95

Num­ber made: 30,665


Model 39-40XX

Model 39-40XX - Image courtesy of David Kulka.
Model 39-40XX

An eight tube mod­el that had the same fea­tures and fre­quen­cy cov­er­age as the 39-36.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $103

Num­ber made: 32,795


Model 39-45XX

Model 39-45XX - Image courtesy of Michael Ko.
Model 39-45XX - Image courtesy of Clifford R. Huff.

This was a nine tube, three band set with eight push­but­tons, that oper­at­ed on 115 volts AC. Its fre­quen­cy cov­er­age includ­ed 540 to 1720 kc; 1.7 to 5.9 mc; and 5.8 to 18 mc. It also had a fold­ing door that cov­ered the dial and con­trols.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $132.50

Num­ber made: 16.760


Model 39-50RX

Model 39-50RX - Model 39-50RX receiver.
Model 39-50RX - Model 39-50RX wired remote control.

The 1939 Philco deal­er cat­a­log announced this AM-only mod­el, which had no dial or con­trols. Instead, it was to be con­trolled by a wired remote con­trol, which con­tained eight elec­tron­ic push­but­tons and an off-on-vol­ume con­trol.

How­ev­er, this mod­el was appar­ent­ly nev­er put into pro­duc­tion. There is no doc­u­men­ta­tion for it, and none are known to exist.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: Unknown


Model 39-55RX

Model 39-55RX - Model 39-55RX, door closed. Image courtesy of J. Thomas Lawson.
Model 39-55RX - Model 39-55RX, door open. Image courtesy of J. Thomas Lawson. Model 39-55RX - Mystery control.

The 39-55RX was two receivers in one; part of the set was an AM receiv­er, the oth­er part was fixed-tuned to the fre­quen­cy of the wire­less remote and processed the sig­nals from the remote.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $162.50

Num­ber made: 20,480


Model 39-70B

Model 39-70B

The 39-70 was a new bat­tery-oper­at­ed Philco for rur­al areas, that received the AM band only with its four tubes.

This was one of only three Philcos that was still offered in a Baby Grand (tomb­stone) cab­i­net in 1939.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $29.95

Num­ber made: 35,635


Model 39-70F

Model 39-70F

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $39.95

Num­ber made: 28,938 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-17F, 39-18F, 39-19F & 39-75F as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117F, 39-118F, 39-119F & 39-175F)


Model 39-71T

Model 39-71T - Image courtesy of Sam R..
Model 39-71T - Image courtesy of Sam R.. Model 39-71T - Image courtesy of Sam R.. Model 39-71T - Image courtesy of Sam R..

Philco had pro­duced a "portable" mod­el back in late 1932 (Mod­el 80P); how­ev­er, it required a 115 volt AC source of pow­er to oper­ate. Now, six years lat­er, Philco intro­duces its first true portable: the bat­tery-oper­at­ed 39-71. The cab­i­net was large enough to accom­mo­date both the radio chas­sis and the need­ed bat­ter­ies. It received the AM band only, and used four tubes.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $33.45

Num­ber made: 32,700


Model 39-75T

Model 39-75T

A bat­tery-oper­at­ed ver­sion of Mod­el 39-17, the 39-75 also used mechan­i­cal push­but­tons and received the AM band only with its four tubes.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $39.95

Num­ber made: 40,305 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-17T, 39-18T & 39-19T as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117T, 39-118T, 39-119T & 39-175T)


Model 39-75F

Model 39-75F

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $54.95

Num­ber made: 28,938 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-17F, 39-18F, 39-19F & 39-70F as well as Jan­u­ary 1939 mod­els 39-117F, 39-118F, 39-119F & 39-175F)


Model 39-80B

Model 39-80B

This four tube, bat­tery oper­at­ed Philco received the AM band only. This large Baby Grand cab­i­net left lots of room for bat­ter­ies, as the chas­sis and speak­er were rel­a­tive­ly small.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $52.50

Num­ber made: 20,050 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­el 39-85B)


Model 39-80XF

Model 39-80XF

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $69.95

Num­ber made: 25,255 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-25XF & 39-85XF)


Model 39-85B

Model 39-85B

The dif­fer­ence between Mod­els 39-85 and 39-80 was that the "85" added elec­tron­ic push­but­ton tun­ing and a short­wave band (5.6 to 18 mc).

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $52.50

Num­ber made: 20,050 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­el 39-80B)


Model 39-85XF

Model 39-85XF

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $79.95

Num­ber made: 25,255 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-25XF & 39-80XF)


Model 39-116RX

Model 39-116RX - Model 39-116RX, upper door closed. Mystery Control shown on top of the radio. Image courtesy of Clifford R. Huff.
Model 39-116RX - Model 39-116RX, upper door open. Image courtesy of Clifford R. Huff.

The new Philco flag­ship offered three band cov­er­age (540-1720 kc, 1.7-5.9 mc & 5.8-18 mc). The main receiv­er used 13 tubes; an addi­tion­al tube was used in the Mys­tery Con­trol. Like the 39-55, the 39-116 was two receivers in one; part of the radio was used to process sig­nals from the wire­less remote while the remain­der func­tioned as a nor­mal receiv­er.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $198

Num­ber made: 22,330 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of June 1939 Mod­el 40-200XX)


1939 Transitone Models

Model TH-1

Model TH-1

This was the new price leader for 1939. The TH-1 used four tubes plus a bal­last, and was a throw­back to the late 1920s in elec­tron­ic design in that it used a Tuned Radio Fre­quen­cy (TRF) cir­cuit.

I sus­pect this mod­el was designed and built by Sim­plex, whose major­i­ty own­er by now was Philco (Philco had bought into Sim­plex in 1937, and would even­tu­al­ly buy the Ohio com­pa­ny out com­plete­ly).

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $9.95

Num­ber made: Unknown


Model TH-3

Model TH-3

In con­trast to the TH-1, the new TH-3 is a 39-6 chas­sis (the dial scale of which reads TRANSITONE instead of PHILCO), in a 38-12CB Bake­lite cab­i­net.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: $15.95

Num­ber made: Unknown


1939 Philco Tropic Models

Model 39-711T

Model 39-711T

This Trop­ic mod­el had three bands (540-1720 kc, 2.3-7.4 mc & 7.3-22 mc) and oper­at­ed from either 115 or 230 volts, AC or DC. It used six tubes.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: 5,000


Model 39-720T

Model 39-720T

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions for this mod­el are not avail­able.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: 4,651


Models 39-744T, 39-750T & 39-751T

Models 39-744T, 39-750T & 39-751T - Image courtesy of Shawn Johnston.
Models 39-744T, 39-750T & 39-751T

Three dif­fer­ent Trop­ic mod­els shared two cab­i­nets. All three had the same fre­quen­cy cov­er­age as Mod­el 39-711 above. The 39-744 used sev­en tubes and oper­at­ed on a 6-volt stor­age bat­tery; the 39-751 had eight tubes and could run from either AC or DC cur­rent, 115 or 230 volts. Spec­i­fi­ca­tions for Mod­el 39-750 are not avail­able.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: 6,344 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-744T, 39-750T & 39-751T)


Models 39-744XX, 39-750XX & 39-751XX

Models 39-744XX, 39-750XX & 39-751XX

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: 714


Models 39-770T & 39-2770T

Models 39-770T & 39-2770T - Model 39-770T shown; Model 39-2770T is identical in appearance. Image courtesy of Dan Schwartzman.

These Trop­ic mod­els used thumb­wheel con­trols and oper­at­ed on 115 volts AC, using 11 tubes. Both had four bands and could receive between 530 kc and 22 mc. The dif­fer­ence between the two was in the fre­quen­cy cov­er­age of each. Mod­el 39-2770 added a long wave band (140-390 kc) while push­ing the short­wave fre­quen­cies clos­er togeth­er to main­tain the use of four tun­ing bands.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: 4,729 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-770T & 39-2770T)


Models 39-770XX & 39-2770XX

Models 39-770XX & 39-2770XX

Illus­tra­tion is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Mod­els 39-770XX & 39-2770XX, as both are iden­ti­cal in appear­ance.

Orig­i­nal sell­ing price: Unknown

Num­ber made: 200 (Note: Fig­ure includes pro­duc­tion of Mod­els 39-770XX & 39-2770XX)


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