Sparton (Sparks-Withington) Model 500C Cloisonne Radio (1939/40)
The diminutive Sparton model 500C is a
veritable symphony of art in motion. A
Deco masterpiece! Its adorable housing
features a colorful fascia a la cloisonne,
exquisitely trimmed with a lace-work of
chrome and framed with catalin plastic.
All three of these materials had been
used in the making of radio cabinets or
components thereof prior to the 500C,
but this set appears to have been unique
in combining them all.
Sparks-Withington's 'cloisonne' was in-
troduced in 1939 with a price of $19.95.
It was offered with a choice of one of
four front colors: blue, red, yellow or
brown, with blue being perhaps the most
often seen today. In any color, the set is
incredibly rare and highly collectible.
Sparks-Withington was one of the most
adventurous of manufacturers when it
came to the choice of cabinet materials,
as may be seen from a perusal of my
Sparton Gallery. They used wood, glass,
FAUX-painted-metal, chrome, bakelite,
plaskon, adding with the 500C cloisonne
and catalin. Their highly artistic juxta-
position of these materials has resulted
in some of the most distinctive and coll-
ectible sets of the tube radio genre.
The 500C coincided with the end of an
era for Sparks-Withington. In 1940, the
model year for which the set had been
introduced, they celebrated 40 years in
business, 15 of them making radios.
However, big changes were on the hor-
izon. A world war was imminent and in
1943, the company's co-founder, presid-
ent and radio dynamo, Captain William
Sparks, died following an illness. In the
post-war era Sparton radios would never
again be the same. The sets, like those
of so many others, with a few exceptions
became largely uninspiring, and Sparton
radio sales began a downwards spiral
from which there would be no reprise.
By 1956 they were out of the home radio
business, all rights to the use of the
Sparton name for domestic radios hav-
ing been sold to Magnavox.
Beautiful Cloisonne Front... plastic case. An intimate entertainer with radio's richest tone
The 500C is a 5-tube (AA5) superhet
receiver covering the standard broad-
cast band. The tube line-up is 12A8GT
(converter), 12K7GT (IF amp), 12Q7GT
(2nd detector/1st AF/AVC), 35L6GT (af
power output) & 40Z5GT (rectifier).
The schematic may be found here,
courtesy of NostalgiaAir. The 500c
measures just 8"(W) * 5"(H) * 4.25"(D)