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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Electric Birdcage: 1928

The Electric Birdcage: 1928

1928. Washington, D.C. "NO CAPTION" is the label for this Harris & Ewing plate of a lady showing us an obviously superior example of whatever this is. Deep knowledge of the Shorpy catalog tells me this is Texanna Loomis of the Loomis Radio School. The thing is -- what? You tell us, in the comments. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

LF Antenna

I agree w/JohnG4ALA. I've built several, but not nearly that size!


As a side note, and a comparison of sorts; the other day I stopped by a local Radio Shack to buy some wire to make a long aerial for my old radios and the (young) manager of the store got confused about what I meant by "aerial". That's right, the manager of Radio Shack didn't know what an aerial was. Go figure.

A large aerial

and a rather substantial set of legs on "Tex"

High Anxiety

It is one unit of an exterior elevator for claustrophobic people (as long as they are not also afraid of heights).


I don't care what the radio people think, I say it's a prototype developed by Kraft to slice American cheese.


It's a loop antenna. Its virtue is a good impedance match between radio and free space, which makes use of more of the wave's energy to overcome the receiver's internal noise.

You can get the same effect today with say a _passive_ Terk loop set next to an ordinary AM radio. The improved impedance match makes daytime radio signals pop out of the noise. (Not much improvement at night - all signals are already strong.)

A well engineered AM radio on the other hand sees no improvement. It already had a good impedance match on its own.

The Weavers

We've got it all wrong. This a giant loom. Its part of another enterprise started by Texanna called "The New Loomis Loom School."

Radio antenna

From the size of it, looks to be a very sensitive antenna for pulling in those really faint radio signals.

Well, obviously it's the first

electric clothes dryer!

Suitable for drying even the most unattractive dresses.

It looks like an antenna

But I'll go with the safe answer and say it's a clothesline!


Its purpose is to catch waves....but I am more interested in the wheels of the cart to the right.

superior example of whatever this is

A superior example of an antenna.probably for AM radio.

Loop antenna.

It's called a loop antenna. Amateur radio people use them.

It's an antenna

It has been too many years so I can't remember what that type is called but it is a longwave antenna. Built me something similar in my bedroom when I was about 12. They should have been able to turn it on the center pole to improve its' directivity.

A housewife's delight

It's an antenna, or an aerial, as we call them here.

An aerial of this type was very sensitive; and many 'portable' receivers of the era had a similar aerial wound inside the receiver's lift-up lid. The lid normally also contained the loudspeaker.

Frame aerials of this type were very directional, a useful feature when two stations were on almost the same frequency. Some receivers even had a small turntable built into their base, to enable easier rotation. More expensive domestic receivers were supplied with a smaller version of that exhibited by the splendidly-named Texanna. To some of us, those aerials look rather beautiful. I imagine those tasked with household dusting had other opinions.

Just a guess...

... but I believe this contraption is an antenna.

Threw me for a loop

It's the largest loop antenna I've ever seen. In the early days of radio, large loop antennas took the place of long wires outside. You could rotate the antenna to "tune in" distant stations. A loop of this size must have been designed to tune below the present AM radio band.

A much smaller version of this sort of antenna can be seen on the shelf to the left behind the subject here:

Rotate For Best Reception

It's a ponderous loop antenna for a radio.

It's an antenna

That's a loop antenna. That particular design would keep the wires taut and perfectly aligned.

Radio antenna

I believe that this is an antenna, possibly shortwave. Though I'm not sure for what specific frequencies.


It's her cage, the worlds first Go Go Dancer

Low Frequency Frame Antenna

In the UK we used to call such things a "Frame Aerial" employed for radio receiving only.

It has directional properties, providing a distinct "null" that can be used in radio direction finding. It is a much bigger version of the rod antennas that were used with transistor radios.

I can only guess at the freqiency covereage, since this depends on the value of the tuning capacitor (not shown in the photograph), but I would estimate around 100 Kilohertz or less (used to be called cycles per second)that was used for "long wave" signals.

There is enough data in the photograph to give a semi-resonable estimate of the inductance of the coil (frame aerial) to within around a factor of 2 or 3 (all depending upon the height of the charming lady.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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