The Golden Era of Vintage radios

AWA Radiogram-record player radio

The Historical Radio Society of Australia (HRSA) has 1200 members around Australia, with an estimated 30 000 radios in their collections. Members enjoy collecting and restoring radios from the 1920s through to the ’80s.

Meetings are held monthly around Australia, including in Ashburton, where radios are discussed and sold and friendships made. The Society also publishes a superb 72- page vintage radio quarterly colour Magazine.

Radio types

Members’ interests vary, from wooden case radios of the 1920s with horn loudspeakers, through to cathedral-shape wood radios from the 1930s. Also crystal sets, bakelite radios starting in 1932 and the plastic-cased 1950s and later valve or transistor radios. Television sets are also of interest, while a few specialise in military radios.

Valves and parts are still available

The HRSA Valve-Bank and parts service is a members’ only service, with 52 000 valves at low prices, either new, or used valves tested up to spec. HRSA Meetings Anyone interested can attend the monthly meeting in St Michael’s Primary School Ashburton. Please introduce yourself as a guest, or contact us for a sample magazine and joining details.


Members do some amazing restorations, making radios look and sound like new. If you are not sure how to restore a radio, you can learn from fellow members and the technical bulletins, or find a member who will do the restoration for you.


We are regularly asked: “Dad left me a radio, what’s it worth?” More information is needed, like description, brand, condition. If bakelite: are there cracks, breaks or missing pieces? Most normal brown radios start at $50 in value and are great to display.

There’s one AWA radio in brown valued at $1000 (in excellent condition) or up to $10 000 in certain colours.

AWA TV circa 1957
The writer’s daughter Julie’s AWA TV circa 1957

Radio sales

The Society has regular radio sales for members and we sometimes sell single radios or collections that people want to place into a good home. The HRSA also accepts donations of radiorelated items.


When you find or buy a vintage radio, don’t plug it in and turn it on. Parts deteriorate with age and simply switching on to “see if it works” can render the radio continued from page 13 The Golden Era of Vintage Radios unserviceable, or worse, smoke appears. So ask an experienced person to test it. A small number of the most collectible AWA radios and an even lesser number of other brands have asbestos inside. This can be low risk if left alone or sealed.

Coloured case radios

Most original owners saved a little money and chose browncase radios, so coloured radios are popular, with higher value. To find out more about the HRSA, meetings and vintage radios, please visit www.hrsa., or phone Kevin on 9558 3652.