Radio maker was ahead of his time

By Terry Maurer, What's it Worth June 3, 2012 

Art meets technology in this edition of What's It Worth? We answer a question from a reader about his radio receiver, which was state-of-the-art in the 1940s.

Art is in the form of a small bronze statuette by a Frenchman who also has a major piece in a Northwest city.

Q. I purchased this Hallicrafter's radio in January of 1946 when I was in New Mexico. It came from a company in Chicago and it still works! What can you tell me about it; any value? -- Elmer in Kennewick

A. Your radio certainly did come from a company in Chicago -- The Hallicrafters. Largely forgotten by the general public today, it was once one of the largest makers of radios in America.

Bill J. Halligan was a radio junkie. He received his first ham license as a teenager in the early 20th century. His first job, at age 16, was as wireless operator on cruise ships out of Boston.

He became a radio parts sales representative in the early 1920s and founded his company in 1928, moving to Chicago. By 1933 it was called Hallicrafters. They built handcrafted radio receiver units of very high quality.

This modern-looking set is a Model S 41W. It was only made for two years, right after the end of World War II.

Hallicrafters products were sold in the U.S. and as many as 89 foreign countries.

While the white cabinet looks terrific and very modern for the times, Halligan believed in putting out a product of high quality, with design and looks being secondary. He was an innovator who was always tinkering with circuits and chassis. High performance was what he was after and he achieved remarkable success.

Collectors have high regard for Hallicrafters radios, combination radio/ phonograph units and early TV sets. But, they don't bring much money these days. This model - in excellent working condition - is worth between $100 and $125.

Halligan sold his company in 1966. Bankruptcy was declared by the new owners in 1988 and the firm closed.

Q. This small metal statue of a dog bears the mark E. Fremiet. I've always liked it and it sits on my desk. But I don't know much about it? Do you? -- Wilson in Spokane

A. This is an animalier bronze by the French artist Emmanuel Fremiet. The term animalier was first used by the French press in the early 1800s. It referred to a group of artists who specialized in animal sculptures and portraits.

Fremiet was born in Paris in 1824 and was a child prodigy. He exhibited at his first Paris Salon -- the annual big-league art showing in the capitol -- when he was just 19 years old.

His production of animal figures was prodigious. We have seen several hundred models including dogs, cats, chickens, horse, people and even gorillas.

Fremiet also produced monumental sculptures. One is located in the Northwest. His World War I memorial life-size statue of Joan of Arc on horseback is in Portland. Located in the Laurelhurst neighborhood along Glisan Street, the work was recently regilded and now shows in its original glory. It is identical to one made in 1889 and on display at the Place des Pyramides in Paris.

Small animalier pieces such as this one vary widely in value -- depending on several factors. Key is whether the work was done in the artist's lifetime and under his supervision. Or is it a later issued, something the art world would call "after Fremiet'? Additional research and expert examination would be needed to determine that.

If done during his lifetime, the value range is $600 to $1,200. A casting made after he died will be valued from $250 to $500.

-- Terry Maurer, Tri-Cities personal property appraiser, is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. For possible use in a future column, direct questions on your antiques and collectibles to What's It Worth? by email to tchwhatsitworth@gmail.com.

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