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History of BELMONT Radios

The Chicago based Belmont Radio Corporation has been manufacturing radios from the very early days of radio history.
Magazine ads boast, "Manufacturers of High Grade Radio Receiving Sets Since 1925".
The first mention of Belmont Radio in the Riders Radio Troubleshooter service manuals is in Volume III.
Series 40 and 50 models are the first Belmont radios listed with the 50 Series schematic marked, July 21, 1931.
In the 1930s, they offered wood cathedral style radios and other wood table and console radios.
But Belmont is best known to collectors today for their curvy, streamlined bakelite radio designs.
Some of these Belmont designs have become icons in radio history.
Belmont-made radios are found with many other retailer's names on them; Airline, Coronado and Truetone for example.

Belmont Radio collection

Read more information on each radio shown above with close up photos;
Belmont, Airline, Coronado, Delco, Freshman Masterpiece,
Good Year, Grantline, Truetone, Western Royal.

Pushbuttons and their beautiful reflective dials are also features that make Belmonts such popular radios.
The familiar Belmont pushbutton mechanism with side knob tuning was used in many Belmont models from 1938 to 1948.
It was invented by Alexander W. Plensler in 1937. As an assigner to Belmont Radio Corporation,
Plensler applied for a US patent for the mechanism October 20, 1937 and the patent was granted September 13, 1938.
Plensler invented many other radio tuning mechanisms and other electronic devices for Belmont.

Belmont Pushbutton Plensler patent diagram Belmont Pushbutton Plensler patent diagram
{Download the entire patent here (1.6 Meg PDF)}

Richard C. Marholz was another Belmont designer that contributed many inventions and cabinet designs.
Marholz invented a similar pushbutton - side knob tuning design in 1938 {patent (850k PDF)},
as seen in the Belmont 526/Coronado 521 and the Airline model 62-351 shown in the patent diagrams below.
He also designed the Belmont 526/Coronado 521 radio cabinet and pushbuttons.

Belmont Pushbutton Marholz patent diagram

The Stewart Warner "Varsity" series also incorporated this pushbutton and side knob tuning design.
Stewart Warner bakelite cabinets of the period were obiously influenced by Belmont design,
if not made by Belmont also, yet no verification of this has been made.

Stewart Warner Varsity radio

Marholz is also credited for designing the cabinets
for the Belmont 520 and Truetone D941 in 1938 shown below.

Belmont 519/520, Truetone D941 cabinet patent diagrams

This is another radio designed by Richard C. Marholz for Belmont,
but for some reason it never made it to market.

Belmont prototype radio patent drawing

Other inventors that contributed to Belmont radio design were Louis J. Wronke, William L. Dunn,
Leslie L. Royal, Anthony P. Olesky, David E. Sparks and Harold C. Mattes.
William L. Dunn is credited for the design of the pushbuttons on the well known Belmont 638/6D111 "Rabbit" shown below.
The exact knobs were used on some Wells Gardner made radio models as well.
Some Wells Gardner models also used identical knobs that were used on some Belmont radios,
and many Wells Gardner radio cabinet designs were obviously influenced by Belmont radio cabinets,
with similar louvers, dials and curves.

Belmont 6d111 pushbutton patent diagram

Louis J. Wronke is credited for some of the Belmont radio cabinet designs including
the Belmont/Coronado/Western Royal model 636 shown below.

Belmont Coronado Western Royal model 636 cabinet patent by Wronke

Harold C. Mattes invented the "Teledial" tuner mechanism for Belmont Radio Corporation in 1937
as found in the Airline model 62-245, shown below.

Belmont Teledial Mattes patent diagram
{Download the entire patent here (890k PDF)}

Although the pushbuttons used on these classic Belmont models below were designed by William L. Dunn in 1939,
no designer credit was found for the fabulous cabinet designs.

Belmont 6d111, 638 rabbint, 5d118, 5d128, 534, 6d120 drawings image

Belmont introduced their signature reflective dials in 1939.
The dial colors would shift with the light giving a 3-D appearance.
They called their new dials "Enameloid Cloisonette".

Belmont Dials

Belmont sold their radios to many big name distributors including Montgomery Wards (Airline radios),
Gamble Skogmo (Coronado radios), Western Auto (Truetone radios),
Radio Wire Television Inc. (Lafayette radios), United Motors Service (Delco radios), and many others.
Radios with identical Belmont-made cabinets are found with different brand decals, names on dials, or names embossed into the cabinets.
These brand names included Airline, Coronado, Crusader, Delco, Freshman Masterpiece, Good Year Wings,
Grantline, Lafayette, Sky Rover, Truetone, Windsor and Western Royal.
Some outlets sold Belmont radios with the Belmont name as the brand marking.
It seems a few Belmont models were made exclusively for some of their retailers such as the mini Airline 74BR-1502 design
and the Truetone D2611 "Coronet" design, which haven't been found with any other brand name labels.
Airline 1502 and Truetone
Belmont-made radios are easily identified by a "BRC" (Belmont Radio Corp.) marking on the cabinet, label or
chassis license tag, or "BR" incorporated into the model numbers as with Airline radios.
Montgomery Wards was one of Belmont's biggest customers and distributors.
Wards also distributed Airline radios made by other makers including Wells Gardner.
In 1939, a new Airline model numbering system began with the date of manufacture and the manufacturer included.

airline radio

From 1942 to 1945, consumer radio manufacturing was halted, mandated by the government.
All factory manufacturing resources were to concentrate on helping the WWII war effort and needs.
Belmont continued manufacturing radios for the US Armed Forces during these years.

Belmont US Army Radio

When World War II ended, consumer radio manufacturing resumed and in 1946,
bakelite radio models that were first released in the early '40s
were issued again using the same radio molds that were brought back out of storage.
Although the same radio cabinets were used, some chassis updates were applied and new model numbers were assigned.
This was especially the case in most of the Belmont-made bakelite models.
The iconic Belmont models 638 (1941) and 6D111 (1946) are a good example of this.
In 1946 Belmont also released one of the first pocket radios, the Belmont "Boulevard" model 5P113.
It used 5 subminiature tubes and required batteries and an earphone.
It is a historic, very rare radio, highly sought after by radio collectors today.
In April of 2022, a nice example sold on Ebay for $1,553.90!

Belmont Radio 5P113 Boulevard

With the advent of television in the late '30s, Belmont joined that market as well.
Belmont Radio Corporation became a subsidiary of Raytheon Manufacturing during television production.
Television manufacturing operations continued until 1957. In 1956 Raytheon sold Belmont to Admiral.
The primary manufacturing plant was located at 5921 West Dickens Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois
across from a Zenith manufacturing facility and just down the road from
Grigsby-Grunow at 5801 Dickens Ave in Chicago building Majestic Radios.
5923 West Dickens is listed as Belmont's address in some radio advertisements.
In 1947, the WAA (War Assets Administration) advertised that "much of the huge inventory of electronic
tubes and equipment, declared surplus by the armed forces, has been allocated to approved distributors for disposal".
Belmont Radio Corporation was on the list of radio manufacturers, wholesalers and jobbers approved by the WAA.
Belmont's address was listed as 3633 So. Racine Avenue, Chicago 9, Illinois.
In 1930s magazine advertisements, the Belmont address was listed as 1257 Fullerton Ave, Chicago.
Belmont also had three other manufacturing plants in Iowa; Charles City, Oelwein and Mason City.

Belmont Radio Boulevard 5P113 1946 advertisement

Radio Retailing 1937:
Belmont Radio 1937 advertisement

Radio Retailing May 1939:
Belmont Radio May 1939 advertisement

Radio Retailing, August 1936:
Belmont Radio 1936 advertisement

Radio Retailing, June 1934:
Belmont Radio 1934 advertisement

Radio Retailing 1937:
ad with Belmont Radios

Insurok plastic ad with Belmont Radios and Crosley Radios

Belmont WWII advertisement Belmont WWII advertisement
Belmont WWII advertisement Belmont WWII advertisement
Belmont Radio advertisement
Belmont TV advertisement
Belmont TV advertisement

Coronado Jewel radio

Comments, corrections and inquiries welcome


Belmont radio drawings

LINK to Belmont Radio History Page
LINK to FADA Radio History Page
LINK to Remler RadioHistory Page
LINK to Truetone Radio History Page

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See many more beautiful radios inside Classic Radio Gallery!

Sparton Radio art with Strider the watchdog
1936 Sparton model 557 mirrored radio

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All pages created by Merrill L. Mabbs