Most keen collectors and lovers of antiques will be familiar with iconic Australian Made valve radios, produced in Australia between the late 1930’s and early 1950’s. In a time before television, a radio receiver was the household entertainment staple, and as they all essentially served an identical function, the market was driven by inserting very similar electrics into an incredible variety of beautifully sculpted, incredibly detailed and in many cases uncharacteristically colourful housings. Brands such as AWA, Astor, Phillips, Mullard, Tasma, Healing and STC were just a few of the bigger players in the market, and of those, Astor and Healing were both manufactured right here in Melbourne on City Road.
Astor is a truly iconic Australian brand, formed through the amalgamation of some smaller companies in the 1920’s. They began producing their first Bakelite models in the late 1930’s, of which the Astor Aladdin (yes named after Disney characters, including the Astor Mickey models of the 1940’s) is pictured above. Astor produced a range of small rounding shaped radios in the late 1940’s know formally as the Astor Baby – due to its smaller size, that was released in a huge variety of bright colours. The Astor Baby came to be known as the “football” and its similarity in shape to the Aussie Rules ball is remarkable as seen below. I have no evidence that there is any intent or connection here, but wouldn’t it be great to think that such an Australian and particularly Melbourne cultural aspect was responsible for this nick name.