Majestic (Grigsby-Grunow) 886 'Park Ave' Console Radio (1933)
..Park Avenue, resplendent in two-toned woods, natural and ebony.
The Majestic model 886 "Park Avenue" was one of a quar-
tet 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 among
radios designed during the golden era.
Art Moderne became popular in the United States during
the 1930s, especially after the opening of the 1933 Chic-
ago Wold's Fair. It evolved from the earlier more decorat-
ive 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 dom-
estic appliances, to architecture, including homes. One
can for sure imagine a radio like the Park Avenue, diminu-
tive in size as console models go, melding perfectly with
the minimally decorated interior of a moderne home.
The names of the radios in the quartet, Ritz, Lido, Park
Avenue and Riviera, were perhaps intended to be sugg-
estive 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 comp-
etitive pricing, garner feel-good sales by uplifting the spir-
its of prospective purchasers during those difficult times. It
must have appeared entirely believable to Grigsby-Grun-
ow that the sets would expand 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 probably did little to help revive the
company's fortunes. Moreover, the short sales window
combined with the relatively low survivability of their top-
heavy but fragile cabinets has rendered them rare and
precious finds today.
The "Park Avenue" retailed in 1933 for $86.50. Below are
links to several ads from 1933 featuring the set. Notice
that the illustration of the set in these ads differs from its
form as mass produced. The manufactured cabinet has a
recess for the upper knob and a wider strip of wood to the
left of the grille area, neither of which is present in the
I purchased this set in 2009 and had the cabinet metic-
ulously restored. Notice the green tint to the inlaid lines
spanning above and below the escutcheon, as well as
bordering the knob recesses, a carefully replicated attri-
bute of the original finish. I restored the set electrically in
2012 and although not overly impressive, it is a respect-
able performer. For chassis details, see my Ritz (model
A sensational modernistic console...
Nov 26th 1933, Charlestown, Va
Oct 1933, Radio retailing, pgs 58-5. Note: the original of this ad
had two text boxes transposed. I have corrected this.
Nov 10th 1933, Syracuse NY
Dec 3rd 1933,