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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Radio Girl: 1925

Radio Girl: 1925

1925. Winding transformer coils at the Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Whenever I see a lovely young woman in photos of this vintage whose beauty reaches across the decades and excites passions of this nature in me, I always have, in the back of my mind, the sneaking suspicion that she is about 15 years old.

[You two should get together ASAP. - Dave]

Hot Mama

She can wind my coil anytime.

Wound by hand [or not]

In the recent past decades one would come across electronic construction projects with coil winding instructions such as "5-1/2 turns of #24 enameled wire, 1/4" spaced, on a 3/4" o.d. form." It might even specify what material the form was made of. Often any other coils for the same circuit might require different wire sizes so one would need to invest in several spools. If one was going to be doing a lot of this there were some mechanical devices to assist -- most based around what resembled an egg-beater hand drill.

[The box in the photo is an electric motor, which is doing the winding here. - Dave]

Misc. Items

There is what looks like an automotive distributor cap setting on the box she is working at with a rag in it. There is also a house hold type fuse setting next to the box and one by the soldering iron. I wonder if these were used in the box she is using.


These circular coils are surely for inter-stage radio frequency transformers, or maybe they are tuning coils. Power transformer windings would not be on tubular formers.

They still do it by hand

Of course, the people who wind transformers these days are Chinese, but the methods have not changed much.

[I'll bet they work by candlelight. The girl in our 1925 photo is watching an electric motor wind the coils. - Dave]

Coil Winder

This little lady certainly is a cutie, but she looks like she should still be in school! It's amazing to think of all the jobs like this that are now done by machines. I never even thought those coils were hand wrapped.

Wissahickon Avenue

This picture is taken in Atwater Kent's bright new factory on Wissahickon Avenue. Built in mid-1924 at a cost of $2 million, it originally covered 5 acres and eventually covered 32. You can see how fresh and unscarred the tops of the assembly benches are in this excellent picture, taken less than a year after this huge factory opened.

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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