Zenith "Zenette" Model L Cathedral Radio (1931)
Zenette. Makes other small sets seem like playthings!
The Model L was one of several Zenette models intro-
duced by Zenith beginning in early 1931. The line was
produced in response to the public's demand for lower
prices during the Great Depression - "Zenith presents
Zenette, the lowest priced quality radio in the world" the
company announced at the time. Up until that point,
they had largely specialized in the manufacture of elab-
borate and expensive "quality" console radios, sales of
which were especially hard hit by the downturn.
With the advent of the Zenettes, Zenith was following
an industry wide trend towards introducing lower cost
radios, fueled by the economic necessities of the time.
They were however a little late in entering this arena,
as the pioneers had debuted their models a full year
earlier. Philco, although not one of the very first to mar-
ket, had introduced the model 20 Baby Grand compact
in August of 1930 and this had gone on to become a
best seller, firmly establishing Philco as the market lea-
der. As a result, despite very competitive pricing, Zen-
ith faced very formidable competition. Nevertheless the
Zenettes were credited with improving Zenith's finan-
cial situation in what were very difficult times.
At the time of its introduction in January of 1931, the
Zenette line comprised four 6-tube TRF sets - table
Models A and B each listed at $57.50, along with floor
Models C and D at $84.0 and $94.0 (Eastern prices,
LESS tubes). As best as I can tell, the 5-tube model L,
featured on this page, followed in early March, priced
at $49.95, complete WITH tubes. I base this on the
fact that the earliest I found it advertised by name was
March of 1931. Moreover, an ad from March 6th 1931
shows the Zenette prices ranging from a minimum of
$49.95 (the price of a model L), whereas similar ads in
February list the minimum as $57.50 (the price of
Models A & B less tubes). So it seems reasonable to
infer that Model L was unavailable prior to March 1931.
A number of ads telling the story of the early Zenettes
up to an including the Model L, are shown below. Of
note is that around the time of the introduction of the
model L in early March, Zenith ads in Eastern news-
papers commenced pricing Zenettes complete WITH
tubes, so thenceforth Models A and B are listed at
$73.30 in the East (this explains the 0.30!) and Models
C & D at $99.80 and $109.80. Some western papers
priced the Zenettes with tubes through February.
The model L provides coverage of the standard broad-
cast band and has tube line-up :- 35+35 (two stages of
tuned RF screen-grid amplification), 24 (detector), 47
(power amp) and 80 (rectifier). The schematic may be
found here, courtesy of NostalgiaAir.
|Zenith announces the Zenette, the lowest priced quality
radio in the world.
The Zenette offers you just what you have been waiting
for - a Zenith-built radio at modest price with genuine
high-priced set performance. The Zenette positively excels
in all around performance and tone quality any radio selling
wihtin many dollars of its price. Available in the mantle type
cabinet and also in a full size console"
|"A wonderful triple screen-grid radio just brought by
Zenith...a name that stands for the best in radio. Beautiful
walnut veneer cabinet; electro-dynamic speaker, illuminated
dial. Complete with Zenith quality tubes. It's an amazing
|"Zenith could long ago have produced a small size radio if they
had been satisfied to reduce quality along with size. It had to
be a real radio set, not a plaything, a real radio set that
measured up to Zenith standards... the highest standards of
radio quality in the world. It had to provide tone quality,
volume, selectivity and sensitivity far beyond anything
hitherto achieved in small set design. And here it is now,
TODAY... the amazing Zenette... so clearly superior that
other existing small type radios fall into the toy class by
comparison. You'll want a Zenette.. everyone does who sees
and hears one. See and hear YOURS at your dealer today!"
ad for the Zenette Model L, dated March 26th, 1931 (see left)
ad for the Zenette, dated April 26th, 1931 (see below right)
Mar 26th 1931, Indiana
Mar 29th 1931, Tx
May 22nd 1931, Indiana
Feb 19th 1931, Ohio.
prices less tubes
Mar 6th 1931, ND
prices with tubes
Apr 26th 1931,
NM (with tubes)
The Mar 6th ad (right) lists the lowest priced Zenette at
$49.95 WITH tubes (i.e a Model L). On Feb 19th (near
right) the lowest price is $57.50 LESS tubes (i.e Models
A & B, implying there was no Model L at that time). This
same lowest price also appeared in an ad dated Feb
27th*). Therefore, contingent on publishing delays, the
Model L looks to have debuted in early March. Note:
the ads are typical of several that were found.
Mar 19th 1931, Kansas
* quality of original too poor
Feb 1931, pg 51