|Majestic (Grigsby-Grunow) Model 886 "Park Avenue" Console Radio
...the Park Avenue, resplendent in two-toned woods, natural and ebony.
The Majestic model 886 "Park Avenue" was one of a quartet of
modernistic "smart set" console radios introduced by Grigsby-Grunow
in September of 1933. The Park Avenue in particular has become an
icon for modernism in mid-century radio design.
Art Moderne became popular in the United States during the 1930s,
especially after the opening of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. It
evolved from the earlier more decorative Art Deco genre as a
reaction to rapid technological advance, with innovative designers
creating artifacts which artistically harmonized form with function. The
influences ran wide, ranging from streamlined transportation, to
domestic appliances, to architecture, including homes. One can for
sure imagine a radio like the Park Avenue, diminutive in size as
console models go, melding perfectly with the minimally decorated
interior of a mid-century moderne home.
The names of the radios in the quartet, Ritz, Lido, Park Avenue and
Riviera, were perhaps intended to be suggestive of the very essence
of luxury at a time when the populace was mired in the gloom of the
Great Depression. Grigsby-Grunow's hope must have been that the
bold, clean, modernistic lines would, when sweetened by competitive
pricing, garner feel-good sales by uplifting the spirits of prospective
purchasers during those difficult times. It must have appeared entirely
believable to Grigsby-Grunow that the sets would sustain the
momentum established in the marketplace by the earlier smart set
models, the first of which had been introduced that spring.
Overall, the smart-set line did lead to a resurgence in sales for the
struggling company, but the low-margins were insufficient to bear
their high overhead burdens and by February of 1934 their doors
were closed for the last time. Although it appears likely that the four
modernistic consoles sold quite well, the short period for which they
were offered for sale and the relatively low survivability of their
top-heavy but fragile cabinets has rendered them rare and precious
The park Avenue retailed in 1933 for $86.50. Below are links to three
ads from 1933 featuring the set. Notice in the ads lower left and upper
right that there are minor differences between the illustrated set and the
production version (as in my photos). The latter has a recess for the
upper knob and a wider strip of wood to the left of the grille area.
I purchased this set in 2009 and had the cabinet meticulously restored by Richmond Designs. Notice the green tint to the inlaid lines spanning
above and below the escutcheon, as well as bordering the knob recesses, a carefully replicated attribute of the original finish. I restored the set
electrically in 2012 and although not overly impressive, it is a respectable performer. For chassis details, see my Ritz (model 666) page.
A sensational modernistic console...