|Sparton Models 558-B (Blue) and 558-C (Copper) Sled
The Sparton 558-B (blue) and 558-C
(copper or peach) tinted mirror radios
were introduced in June of 1937 as
deluxe versions of the model 557 that
debuted the previous year. All are att-
ributed to esteemed industrial designer
Walter Dorwin Teague. Although similar
to the 557, the 558 features extended
engraving of the front mirror plus eng-
raving of the top and left mirrors. In
contrast, the 557 has markings on
neither its top nor left side.
A distinctive feature of the 558 is the
dark banding which embellishes the
front and top mirrors. This banding's
disjoint nature creates the illusion of
depth, especially on top, where the eye
is readily deceived into believing the
fabrication is based upon two mirrors,
one atop the other, rather than upon a
single piece of glass. Such was Walter
Teague's design genius!
The receiver is a two-band 5-tube
ac-powered super-heterodyne. It
covers standard broadcast from
535-1730kc and shortwave from
5850-18900kc. The tube line-up is
6A8G (mixer/LO), 6K7G (IF), 6Q7G
(2nd det/AGC/1st AF), 6F6G (AF
power), 5Y3G (rectifier). Schematic.
Compared to the three-knob model
557, the 558 adds a tone-control for a
total of four knobs and features a
chassis upgraded to use the recently
introduced Octal-based tubes. From
left to right the knobs are:- volume,
waveband selector, tuning and tone/
Originally, the black trim on the 558-B
had a crystalline appearance similar to
that seen on my 557. This effect was
allegedly created by spraying the trim
with black lacquer laced with naptha*. It
is missing on my model 558-B, indicat-
ing that it was refinished at some point
in the past. Many of the blue sleds that
turn up today have been likewise re-
finished, so perhaps the addition of the
naptha to the lacquer weakened its
adhesive properties and rendered it
more prone to flaking away.
The copper-toned sled on the other
hand appears never to have received
the equivalant crystalline treatment; all
models I've encountered appear as
mine, exhibiting a dark copper-toned
Notice that the 558-B sports black-
lacquered knobs with chrome ring
inserts, whereas those on the 558-C
are of a matching dark copper-tone.
The engravings on the top and
left-side mirrors are clearly evident in
the two photographs to the right.
Again notice the illusion of two upper
mirrors produced by the disjoint dark
band and engravings.
|"558-C. Exquisite and
distinctive table model in
copper-toned crystal glass.
Top, front and sides carried in
a harmonious wood-base cradle.
Copper grille bars extend from
front around the end to form
the speaker grille, after the
modern mode. Foreign and
American broadcast reception,
with the same chassis as the
model 518. Also available in a
beautiful blue tone, Model
558-B. 91/8" high. 171/2" wide
and 81/2" deep.
Exquisite and distinctive table model.. in crystal glass.
|Readers familiar with the model 558 may
notice that the end panel on my blue set is
mounted upside down. I purchased this set
from an Ebay seller, only to find its end
panel cracked upon arrival. The seller,
surprisingly, was able to furnish me with a
replacement panel, but because it had a
bevelled upper edge, it apparently was a
replica. As a result, I had to install this
panel with the engraved spears (see photo
immediate right) pointing down instead of
up, thereby concealing the bevel behind the
retaining edge of the wooden cradle.
Recently I was fortunate to acquire a
genuine original panel and have since
installed it as intended by the set's
manufacturer - with the spears pointing up.
I will post updated photos here as soon as
I get the chance.