Vintage Televisions are models manufactured from the 1930s until around 1960.
The basic technology of electronic television was invented around the 1930s by Vladimir Zworykin and Philo Farnsworth. The first TV sets were available for sale later in the 1930s. However, televisions did not achieve significant popularity until 1946 to 1955, a period of growth in the television industry; in 1947 there were approximately 100,000 TV sets in the United States, but by 1953 this number had grown to 13 million.
Colour television sets were first introduced in 1954. The largest manufacturer of TV sets at that time was RCA. Other popular brands were Dumont, Zenith, Andrea and General Electric.
Vintage televisions that are popular with collectors are color sets through to 1960, and black and white sets manufactured from 1939 to 1949.Almost all low-middle to upper-class households have a television set and TV has become a significant part of your daily modern lives. Electronic TV sets are almost reaching their centenary, having been invented in the 1930s. Vintage televisions look very different to the plasma, flat-screen editions of today and make for interesting (and sometimes valuable) collectors’ items.
Guide for collectors
Most collectors identify a distinction between vintage pre-war TV sets and vintage post-war TV sets. Very few pre-war television sets were manufactures and there are only a few hundred still in existence. This makes pre-war TV sets prized collectors’ items. More pre-war TV sets are being discovered – many people don’t even realise that they are TV sets as they look nothing like the televisions we are used to today.
The values drop significantly for TV sets made after 1949, although there are some exceptions. The TV sets produced after the 1950s are more common and are often less visually interesting.
Vintage television enthusiasts and collectors should consider joining the Early Television Foundation (ETF). This organisation is dedicated to preserving the television technology from TV’s early days. On the foundation’s website, visitors can learn about the history of early television and learn more about the models that were produced. The website can be found at www.earlytelevision.org
A 1948 Admiral 1201 (measuring 16x32.5x19 inches) sold for $1,700 through RM Auctions in June 2008. This vintage TV set has a 10-inch screen, with the most notable feature being the Bakelite cabinet, the largest cast Bakelite cabinet for TV at that time. The TV was also in good condition and was very well preserved.
A vintage Television and Selector (16x15x13 inches, and 11x8.5x9 inches, respectively) was estimated by RM Auctions to sell for $200 to $300 in June 2008, but the TV sold way above estimate at $850. The black and white screen is equipped with rabbit ears for improved reception and was sold with a RCA U70 UHF VHF television selector. There are a few scratches on the metal cabinet.
Peachtree & Bennett sold a vintage white space Phillips TV in April 2011 for $650. Made circa 1960’s , the set was converted in a full color, high definition screen.
A 70's Mod Vintage Console Television TV with faux rosewood and white plastic was sold for $90 through Uniques and Antiques, Inc. in 2010.
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