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The Columaire (Westinghouse "Tower") Series of 1931

In 1930 a famous technological designer by the name of Raymond Loewy designed a new console style which was used by Westinghouse in their 1931 lineup.

The design was an art deco clock-radio console, the WR-8 "Columaire." The line was occompanied by 3 other "tower" console models, all of which were art deco, many of which were grandfather-clock models.

Grandfather clock radios were a major trend in America around 1931. Many companies offered their own consoles with elaborate grandfather clock cabintry work, sometimes unique model specific clock movements along with a whole host of configurations. Philco, Crosley, Atwater Kent, Westinghouse and General Electric all had models catering to this brief trend. Many of these sets today are extremely hard to come by, such as the General Electric "long fellow" H-91, even more so in cases of the General Electric H-91R and Westinghouse WR8R which had an uncommon feature for period consoles; a remote control option.

The Westinghouse series was unique in a sense because its models were extremely art deco in design (in the real sense, not like eBay where every radio is said to be art deco) and frankly, very little if anything looks similar to the styling involved.

The most basic model in this 4 cabinet series was the WR-2 (below).

This set was basically a tower console without any clock on it, and was cabintry wise almost identical to the WR-12.

Next in the series is the WR-8 and WR-8R (the R denotes that it is a set that has the remote control feature). The WR-8 cabinet was modeled after an art deco skyscraper and unlike the rest of this series, has a "step" to the cabinet and is the only part of the series that has the controls for the radio on the side. It is an 8 tube superheit and sold for $169.50 new (minus the tubes- $193 with tubes), or $236 (minus the tubes- $259 with tubes) for the remote equiped version.

The clock was a custom made piece specific to this model which was unique in the sense that it emulates a ticking mechanical clock for the movement of the second hand and the hour and minute needles were made to look just like the cabinet (complete with the "step" of the cabinet shape). I picked one of these sets up for $325 plus the gas to go 4 hrs each way to pick it up and it is quite the beautiful radio.

WR-8

Mine (above) has yet to be restored and is not of the original finish. The set originally used a very attractive two tone wood finish, best I can tell the center flat piece was an oil based maple finish while the sides and top were a dark shade of walnut finish. This one has been incorrectly redone in mahogeny.

WR8Clock

Here (above) is the clock on mine. Note how the speaker cloth was not the same wicker grill cloth & frame/top piece that was used on the other models from  this series... I have the original cardboard grillcloth backing on mine and it the cabinet's routing for the grill is not deep enough to accomidate a thick framed wicker grill like the other models have.

The WR-8 used a massive two part chassis which is similar in design (physically speaking) to the General Electric H-91 "Longfellow" grandfather clock. The other sets (WR-2, WR-12 and WR-15) used the chassis from the WR-10 "Columette" table top radio (RCA chassis R-10). The use of taking a tabletop chassis to put inside a grandfather clock cabinet was the standard method in which these sets were designed and made since it used existing parts in the part bin, saved R&D cost and could fit in small spaces.

The R-12 "Columaire Jr." was next in the series. which had a cabinet almost identical to the WR-15 only it had no base at the bottom, used the WR-2's two tone layout and coloring, and used a rectangular clock face unique to the unit.

Lastly there was the WR-15 "Columaire Jr. Deluxe" (seen below- picture from eBay) which used yet an other clock face (again specific to the unit) and a similar cabinet style with notiable differences being the length of the painted center piece of the cabinet, and the clock face opening shape. The WR-2, WR-12, and WR-15 were all fairly identical in apperances otherwise. The model sold for $125 with tubes when new.

WR15

 

 

From an advertisement perspective, this series (especially the WR-8) was campiegned extensively by Westinghouse and its dealers, with many advertisements in period magazines and newspapers. Most of which bragged about how the series took up a mere square foot of floorspace... making it the perfect console for almost any home. The placement of the speaker was, at least said in the ads, to help project the radio throughout the room.

According to one article, "the westinghouse "Columaire" is essentially a custom built radio, only a limited number are availble. Your dealer has just a few." I am not sure if that was just a marketting tactic or if there really was a limitation as to how many the public had access to.

WR-8 Ad 1