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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Super Wasp: 1930

Super Wasp: 1930

        UPDATE: This is Dr. William C. Fowler, "health officer of Washington, D.C.," probably in 1924.

May-June 1930. Washington, D.C. "Man with radio." Or is it the other way around? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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And below the shelf full of detector coils, note all the batteries! A, B, and (usually) C batteries.

Not to be confused with D, C, AA or AAA *cells*, which designate size, rather than function, as A-B-C did.

Western Electric

The speaker is a Western Electric 580AW or 560AW; this was the medium or largest size. They're worth at least $3,000 today in this condition. Many companies made them, often decorating with various motifs like ships. The speaker had very high impedance so it could be driven off the same circuit as headphones, 1500 to 3000 ohms.


Yes, it's just a receiver, but one capable of receiving shortwave bands which were used for foreign broadcasts, police, aircraft, ships, etc. as well as hams. Notice the plug-in coils beneath for changing frequency bands. Later shortwave receivers had the coils built inside and selected with a rotary switch. Also note the collection of batteries below which were needed before the days of AC-powered radios. People went to a lot of trouble to hear radio in those days.

Super Wasp K-110

Second from the top on this page.

The thing on top

The thing on top of the radio is a Western Electric speaker. I had two of those when I was collecting. They were pretty decent sounding speakers for the time. But the cone is supported by a similar cone from behind. Any moisture would ruin them.

Shortwave Listener

The Pilot Super Wasp is a shortwave radio receiver. That big round gadget on top is a speaker, similar to a Crosley Musicone, although the man is listening through the cans. He's not necessarily a ham operator, with no transmitter in view.

[No microphone or telegraph key, either. - Dave]

Old Ham

My father's ham license was issued just after WW1. He used to tell about winding specific coils around empty Quaker Oats boxes to operate on certain wavelengths. I bet they looked a lot like the ones in the boxes under the radio.

Forget About The Radio

I'm liking the candlestick phone! We had one just like it (no dial) when I was a kid in the 60's. It wasn't hooked up--we just played with it. We used to unscrew the pieces and take it apart. Eventually we pretty much destroyed the whole thing. Wish we had gone easier on it.

He's really hamming it up

Apparently they had a dress code back in the early days of ham radio.

Super Wasp

Coils and batteries. State of the art. I guess that's the antenna on top?
I'd love to play around with that radio, it's neat.

SHORPY OLD 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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