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Atwater Kent: 1927

Washington, D.C., circa 1927. "Thomas R. Shipp group, Hamilton Hotel. Atwater Kent standing by radio." National Photo Co. safety negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1927. "Thomas R. Shipp group, Hamilton Hotel. Atwater Kent standing by radio." National Photo Co. safety negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Mr. Kent sells his company.

Sounds like he "went John Galt."

AK Cabinet

The Pooley cabinet is a Model 32.

Fuller is right

that Kent walked away with big bucks, not a failure. One of the big reasons that he closed the company down when he did was the threat of unionization by his workers. he said that if they persisted in attempts to unionize, he would close the company. They did, and he did.

The factory was eventually taken over by Philco and produced enormous number of radio before, during, and after, WW2. Sometime in the late 50s/early 60s, Philco sold at least part of the property to the Government, and it became a Veterans Administration Data Processing Center, full of equipment that, by today's standard, was as about as advanced the radios made by Atwater Kent!

Way Back

My grandparents & I used to listen to the radio in the evenings. Amos & Andy, Walter Winchell. This brings back good memories.


I wish I could see all those rich fabrics in color. Velvets, brocades, satins...mmmm!! They're probably in lovely jewel tones.

(I also want all the women's shoes, especially the adorable mary janes on the left.)

AK Closing

Kent never "failed" in the radio business or in any other business. In 1936, he was a solvent multimillionaire. He had his son, A. Atwater Kent Jr., sell the factory buildings and other company assets, which were all his personal, debt-free, property. He retired to California, where he became famous for his flamboyant parties. He died a wealthy and reportedly happy man.

14th Street

I think the street outside the window is 14th, with the cars parked in the alley across from the Hamilton that connects 14th and Vermont (in between the current Continental and and Tower buildings).

Model 33 in a Pooley Cabinet

The set is an Atwater Kent Model 33 in a Pooley 1700-R-2 cabinet. Pooley had a deal with AK -- customers could order from their line of radio cabinets, and then pick from any number of available AK sets to go in it. The cabinets cost anywhere from $190 to $240, and the radios $145 to 390. That was a pretty hefty sum in 1927 -- even more so when you consider that the delivered radio-cabinet set came without tubes or a battery, which the buyer had to purchase separately.

Mr Kent appears to be showing off the latest model -- the 33 was manufactured in 1927, and the Pooley 1700 started production in 1926. The radio isn't a Model 30 (manufactured in 1926) -- the knobs on the 30 were closer together.

Looking at the radio

You see, if you look at the radio, your ears just happen to be pointing in the best possible direction for you to hear best as well. One of nature's little tricks.

Radio days

The fact that they're all looking at the radio is hilarious, and reminds me of a line from Woody Allen's Radio Days. "He's a ventriloquist... on the radio! How do you know he's not moving his mouth?" I paraphrase, but you get the idea. The one visible female face has a highly amusing expression on it. Most everyone else appears somber and she's sort of simpering, seemingly unable to get into character.

Atwater Kents were the best

Atwater Kents were the best set you could buy back then. If you ever compare a RCA, GE, or Philco radio from the 20's-30's to an Atwater Kent set of the same era, the AK radio wins by a landslide. Unfortunately the sets were too expensive for them to survive the Depression.

Thomas Roerty Shipp

Washington Post, Aug 20, 1926

Greater Radio Sales Predicted Next Year

Dealers, Closing Meeting With Banquet,
Base Forecast on Broadcasters' Rivalry

A larger business in radio sets for next year was predicted at the annual meeting of the radio dealers of Washington, Maryland, and Virginia that closed with a banquet at the Lee house last night. The high quality of radio programs being broadcast together with rivalry between the broadcasting stations to procure the best talent was the basis for the prediction.

A representative of the Atwater Kent factory reported that the Philadelphia plant had already received a sufficient number of orders to warrant the manufacture of more than 600,000 radio receivers this year as compared with a 400,000 order on hand at this time last year. The dealers were the guests of William E. O'Connor, president of the Southern Auto Supply Co., at the banquet.

The dealers were welcomed by M.A. Leese, local radio dealer and president of the Washington Chamber of Commerce, followed by greetings from F.C. Ferber, vice president and secretary of the Southern Auto Supply Co. Others who spoke were C.W. Geisner and P.A. Ware of the Atwater Kent Co.; T. Cronyn, S.D. Goodall, G.O. Hamilton and H.W. Jarrett, all of New York and Thomas R. Shipp, of this city.

Washington Post, Sep 12, 1927

"Better Broadcasting"
Talk By Bullard Today

Having explained to listeners, station owners, manufacturers and others the part they must play in the national program for better broadcasting, two members of the Federal Radio Commission today will being to enlist the cooperation of radio dealers in the movement. To this end, Chairman W.H.G. Bullard will address the annual Atwater Kent dealers meeting at the Hotel Hamilton, taking for his topic, "How Radio Dealers May Aid the Radio Commission." At the same time Commissioner H.A. Bellows will address the Atwater Kent dealers in Philadelphia.

To day's program in Washington will open with a housewarming this morning at the Southern Wholesalers Inc., distributors, followed at 12 o'clock with a luncheon at the Hamilton. Then will come an afternoon business session, concluding with a banquet at 6 o'clock followed by vaudeville.

Washington Post, Feb 11, 1952

Thomas Shipp Dead in Miami
At Age of 76

Thomas Roerty Shipp, 76, veteran public relations man and one of the founders of the National Press Club, died yesterday in Miami, Fla., where he and his wife had been spending the winter.

Mr. Shipp came to Washington in 1908 to organize the first conference of State Governors during the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, who then appointed him secretary of the National Conservation Commission. He was public relations advisor for such corporations as General Motors, Standard Oil Co. of New York, the Pullman Co., Swift & Co., International Harvester and many others.

Mr. Shipp organized the first national and international publicity campaigns for the American Red Cross in World War I and headed the national publicity drives of the Y.M.C.A. and United War Work Campaign. A native of Morristown, Ind., Mr. Shipp was nominated by the Republicans for Congress but was narrowly defeated in the election. He then became the Indiana member of the Republican National Congressional Committee and directed the publicity campaign for the party in 1914.

In 1914 he organized the Thomas R. Shipp publicity company, with offices in the Albee Building. He lived at 3733 Oliver st. nw.

Mr. Shipp was a mason, a member of the Chevy Chase Club, Columbia Country Club, National Press Club, Artists and Writers of New York City and a member of the Indiana Bar. Funeral services will be held Tuesday in Indianapolis, with interment there.

Play by Play

SteeeRIKE THREEE!! and he's OUT!


Looks like they might've dragged some furniture around to better compose the shot. A smart hunter would've swept that plant around to cover his tracks.

Atwater Kent himself!

Funny that I always assumed "Atwater-Kent" was a combination of two names, like "Nash-Kelvinator" or "White-Westinghouse." Unless, of course, the caption actually means "standing by Atwater Kent radio."

Note the Cosmo girl to his left--this being the days when Cosmopolitan was like a mixture of Redbook and Literary Digest.

Atwater Kent

Atwater Kent provided radios for various manufacturers to include in their own cabinetry. This one looks like a model 30, produced in 1926 and notable for single-knob tuning:

Interesting Piece

The radio cabinet could double as a writing desk. I wonder if the area below the desk is a functional drawer or storage space of some sort or does it have any part of the electronics.

What are they looking at?

Why is everyone looking at the radio? They have a good 20 years to wait until a screen pops out of that thing.

Attention please

If you don't look at the radio, you can't hear it.

And the lady on the left has taken one of the drapery ruffles and fashioned a hat.

Attentive Stare

Although obviously a posed picture, interesting how everyone is "watching" the radio set. Replace the speaker grille with a small TV screen and this could be 1949 (at least, if you look more at the mens' outfits).

Pinpointing the date

This is one of those photos where, with a little detective work, one can easily figure out what month of the year it was taken. The cover of the Cosmopolitan magazine that woman is holding is clearly visible.

[February 1927. - Dave]

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