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Sears Silvertone Medalist All Channel Portable Television [Back] | by Nelmu
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Sears Silvertone Medalist All Channel Portable Television [Back]

Introduced by Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 1915, the Silvertone brand was affixed to the company's wide range of audio products and steadily built a reputation around its affordable, high quality products. Its radios were particularly popular nationwide during the late 1930s when families across America relied upon radio broadcasts to bring them the latest updates on the war. Over the years, Sears expanded the selection of Silvertone's products to include console, portable, and color television sets and musical instruments including the now highly sought after line of Silvertone electric guitars. The trademark was retired by Sears in 1972 and ultimately abandoned by the company in 1992 upon its expiration. South Korean instrument manufacturer Samick Corporation scooped up the iconic trademark in 1995 and, since 2013, builds and sells replica guitars under the Silvertone name.


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The first Silvertone television appeared in the 1949 issue of the Sears catalog right on the cusp of the color TV era. The original black and white 7" table-top Silvertone was advertised to deliver quality sound and picture in an easy to use yet portable 26 lb. package; all for a low price of $149.95 (about $1,500 adjusted for inflation) or on installment at $15 down and $7 per month. While Patty Painter sat playfully under CBS' hot studio lights, Sears continued to pump out new B&W sets with contemporary designs and, on occasion, new features and improvements alongside its color offerings every year. Sales of color televisions gradually gained traction as screen sizes grew and prices shrank, but B&W, which then typically cost about 1/6th of the price of a color set and were more reliable, still had a place on store shelves and in American homes right up until the late 1970s.


Much less is known about the "Medalist" title which appeared on a number of Sears transistor radios, electric typewriters, musical instruments, and televisions beginning sometime around 1951. One possible conclusion is that the Medalist title is awarded to the top-of-the-line model that Sears offered within a certain group of products (e.g. best typewriter amongst typewriters).


This particular Medalist is a portable 19" Silvertone All Channel B&W model 5126 (chassis 528.61497) circa 1965. Although it has an impressively slim profile, it weighs in at a whopping 42 lbs. This model was built for Sears by Warwick Electronics, Inc. of Zion, IL. Warwick, primarily a manufacturer of private label electronics, was majority owned by Sears by the 1960s and was a contracted supplier of Silvertone TVs and radios. Sears later sold its share of Warwick to Sanyo Electric Co. in 1977 and the business ceased to exist not long thereafter.


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I was gifted this TV by the original owners' son who remembered watching episodes of Batman on it when he was a child. I was told that it was put into storage when his parents purchased their first color TV (presumably sometime in the early 80s) and hasn't received a signal since. The TV came with a remote of some sort too, but it's likely lost. I find it fascinating that almost 50 years ago, Sears sold hundreds of these sets which supplied countless hours of entertainment to households across America. Today, this particular model stands 1 of 1--at least, pictured on the internet. It's in pretty rough shape with broken knobs, deep scratches, and a bruised and tired walnut cabinet. The back cover appears to have been tampered with in the past. It's no Philco or RCA, but I feel it's worth rescuing. Hopefully, with the help of the internet, pictures of Batman will soon beam through its tube once again.

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Uploaded on December 12, 2015