Zenith Model 811 Art Deco Tombstone Radio (1935)
The Zenith 811 tombstone radio is an ultra rare and unus-
ual model that is a masterpiece of Art deco design. Accord-
ing to Cones, Bryant and Blankinship, in their book "Zenith
Radio The Early Years", the 811 was possibly styled by
Rosenow & Company of Chicago, responsible for the cont-
emporaneous models 809, 829 and 835, or perhaps by
Robert Budlong, who consulted with Zenith on cabinet des-
ign for many years and later on did the iindustrial design
for such sets as the 6-D-311/315.
The 6-tube model 811 was introduced in the second half of
1934 for the 1935 model year, along with Zenith's other
small white dial sets. The original sales price was $54.95,
placing it on a par price wise with the model 809 (6 tubes)
and between models 808 and 829 (6 and 7 tubes respect-
ively) in Zenith's 1935 line-up of table sets.
Why is this set so rare? One can only conjecture. Perhaps
it's because its bold, radical styling left most prospective
purchasers, while admiring the set, feeling that one of Zen-
ith's more traditional models would be better suited to their
home decor. The fact that the 811 uses an ac/dc chassis
may not have helped matters either, especially given that it
directly competed with Zenith's popular 808 model, an ac
set also using 6 tubes that cost $5 less. Combine these
considerations with a dearth of advertising by Zenith, low
production numbers, and a cabinet of somewhat fragile
constitution and perhaps some of the elusiveness can be
The Zenith 811 is a 6-tube ac/dc superheterodyne that
tunes the standard broadcast and police/amateur/foreign
frequencies in three bands ranging from 537kcs to 18,200
kcs*. The tube line-up is 6D6 (RF amp), 6A7 (mixer/LO),
6D6 (IF amp), 75 (2nd det/AVC/1st AF), 43 (power amp) &
25Z5 (rectifier). The set uses a resistive line cord. The
schematic may be found here, courtesy of NostalgiaAir.
*Some Zenith ads claimed 18750 kcs (see below), but this
does not agree with the dial markings.
|"Zenith 811 - Triple Filtering. Operates on AC
or DC current. Six-tube. Gets American and
Foreign stations, police, amateur and airplane
conversations. Tunes from 535 - 18,750
kilocycles. 18" High"
Note: The escutcheon is mounted top-down on my set - the
wider half should be at the bottom, as on my 809.
Zenith "small white dial" series
Ad, Dec 1934 Oakland CA
Ad, Nov 1934,
Accurate tone pictures of people who make the world's news...