|Sparton (Sparks-Withington) Model 509 or 608-V Polo-Club
Tube Radio in Ivory Plaskon (1937/1938)
In fact, the origin of the radio's theme poses
somewhat of an enigma, for surely the sub-
ject must have been invoked to commem-
orate some associated special event or
notable occasion? Otherwise, why would a
company interested in maximizing its sales
not have adopted a more populist theme for
their radio, based upon one of the more
mainstream American sports?
One personal conjecture is that the theme
derives simply from the resemblance of the
radio to the head of a horse, amongst the
most streamlined and graceful of creatures.
Perhaps because of this someone at
Sparks-Withington decided to attribute to it
an equestrian theme. For sure, company
president Captain W. Sparks, one of the
company's founders, together with his son
Clifford, at the time a director, both shared
strong military and sporting interests.
I purchased this radio, complete with origin-
al box, in late 2010 from a seller in Quebec.
Other than some minor fractures around the
perimeter of the dial (typical of plaskon), the
case is perfect. Rather than risking having
such a rare and delicate radio shipped, a
family member and I drove up from the Bos-
ton area to collect it. The winter weather,
with heavy rain forecast, skirted between
snow and rain, but we fortunately seemed to
just miss the worst of the snow and the trip
Tone as clear as the bells of a Carillon
Smallest Sparton models built with the same care and precision as the largest console.
Built for tomorrow as well as today.
Character - every Sparton model has character - ready to respond to every demand at any time, under all conditions.
The US model 608 is a 6-tube super-heterodyne receiver covering the standard broadcast
band. The tube complement is 6A8G (mixer/LO), 6K7G (IF amp), 6Q7G (2nd detector/AVC/
1st-audio), 25L6G (Power Amp), 25Z6G (rectifier) and BK498 (ballast tube). The schematic
for model 608 may be found here, courtesy of NostalgiaAir. Note that my set, originating in
Canada, is probably actually a model 509. This is evident from the markings on what by all
appearances is its original shipping carton. There is no model number identification on the
radio itself, though there is a sticker on the base showing it to have a serial number comm-
encing with the three digits 509. As of this time, I have not located the schematic for the
Canadian model 509, nor have I opened up the radio to ascertain its tube complement and
general circuit details.
What appears to be the original carton for
my Canadian Polo Club can be seen to the
right. The seller informed me that the radio
turned up at a flea market, packed in this
box and found beneath a table.
The Sparton "Polo Club", introduced in June
of 1937, was Sparks-Withington's entry level
radio for the 1938 model year. It heralded
their use of plastic as a principal cabinet
material and was offered in a choice of
brown or black bakelite (models 608-W and
608-K) or ivory, red or green plaskon
(608-V/R/G). In brown it initially listed for
$24.95. It appears to have been offered for
sale through at least the end of 1938, by
which time it was being heavily discounted.
The set was available in the United States
as series 608 and in Canada as series 509.
The 608's chassis was also offered in a
small wooden cabinet, known in the US
simply as the model 608. These sets are
rare finds today, a state of affairs exacer-
bated for the plastic sets, no doubt, by their
extreme fragility. Very few of the surviving
examples are perfect, the filamentous grille
bars in particular being often damaged.
The radio ostensibly derives its "polo club"
name from the polo action scene embossed
upon its upper surface (click the thumbnail
below). Early Sparton advertising used this
name right from the outset. However, the
beautifully streamlined appearance of the
radio proclaims "machine age" in a manner
which seems vaguely incongruous to its
officially designated sporting theme.