Zenith Model 809 Chrome Grille Tombstone Radio (1935)
To ardent lovers of table radios deriving from the climax
of the 1930's Art Deco period, Zenith's model 809 is pure
and delectable eye candy. For what a superbly crafted
piece it is! Its individual attributes, comprising a waterfall
front of rich veneers, decorative inlays and vaulted base,
a grille beautifully adorned with chrome, beset with
eclectic dial and knobs, all combine harmoniously to
produce a cumulative effect far greater than the sum of
the separate parts. In fact one's sentiments for this gem
can be expressed in no better words than those taken
from Zenith's own original model 809 advertising, for it is
"truly a veritable masterpiece among table radios".
The 809 was the lowest priced member of a trio of highly
imaginative chrome-front tombstone radios introduced by
Zenith in the early summer of 1934 (the others being the
829 and 835). Its introductory list price in the East was
$54.95, just $5 more than the model 808 with which it
shares its 6-tube three-band chassis type.
Band coverage is standard broadcast (537 to 1500kc),
the old police band (1500 to 4200kc) and shortwave
(foreign broadcast) (5500 to 15800kc). The tube line-up
is 6D6 (RF), 6A7 (mixer/ LO), 6D6 (IF), 75 (2nd detector
/AVC/ 1st AF), 42 (AF power) and 80 (rectifier). The
schematic may be found here, courtesy of NostalgiaAir.
I purchased this radio at the Kutztown radio show in
September of 2009. I had come close to purchasing one
on several occasions in the past but somehow always
seemed to just miss out. In fact I almost passed on this
one too! I had the grille cleaned and re-chromed by
SouthShorePlating of Quincy and the radio needed a
new dial glass and grille cloth. The finish is original and
cleaned up beautifully. I'm ecstatic with the final result!
..truly a veritable masterpiece among table radios.
Zenith "small white dial" series
ad, Nov 1934
ad, Oct 1934