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March 15, 2011

Dave’s 1952 Magnavox Contemporary

Hey, Gang! This week I am happy to bring you a fun post by one of our new guest bloggers, Dave.  Dave promises to bring us lots more fun posts in the future, like cool thrift store finds, electrical tips for vintage lamps and some stuff for the “guys”. Happy to have you with us, Dave!

I was poking around on eBay looking for a nice old vintage television to add to my collection when I stumbled upon this.


It is absolutely beautiful and fulfilled two of my requirements; mid-century modern and in working order. Alas, it was not meant to be. I stayed in the bidding up to $150 and it finally sold for over $350. Life goes on and the next day I discovered this little cutie for sale.


It wasn’t in working condition, but I have a little skill in that department so bid on it I did. I was right in the thick of things but bailed out at $110. It finally sold for over $160. Guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
Have you ever noticed that when one door closes sometimes another one opens? Really, you have? I don’t notice that very often. Usually when a door closes around me it closes on my foot, but today was my lucky day. Today, after having lost two fabulous TVs, I found this orphaned child wandering the streets of Naples, FL looking for a new home.



You may not be able to tell just by looking at her, but she’s 59 years old this year. This is a 1952 Magnavox “Contemporary”. She was still owned by the family that bought her in 1952 and I found her in the garage of her owner’s retirement home in Naples. Twenty five dollars later she was on the way to my house. Not only is there a 17″ black and white TV, there is an AM/FM radio . . .


and a turntable. For her age, Maggie looks pretty good. She is missing one knob .. .


but there is a whole cottage industry in place to provide me new, used and reproduction parts to restore her to her former glory. I found a scan of a 1952 advertisement for this same model. Man, people used to really dress up to sit on the floor in front of their TVs.


The former owners gave me the original owner’s manual and a little magazine ad clipping that one of them found also showing this model.


This restoration will probably take me about a year to complete. Not that it’s that hard, but you try to fit your hobbies in where you find the time. Stay tuned (get it?) and see what Maggie looks like after she’s restored! In the mean time watch for other articles from me regarding really cool thrift store finds, some electrical tips for lamps, and who knows what other goodies that might come along.

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10 Responses to Dave’s 1952 Magnavox Contemporary

  1. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    March 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Good luck with Maggie! She’s gorgeous!

  2. Sara in AZ Reply

    March 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Great TV Dave, can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  3. sablemable Reply

    March 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Nice find, Dave!

    Welcome aboard!

  4. Dave Reply

    March 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you, thank you and thank you, ladies

  5. RetroRuth Reply

    March 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    What a stroke of luck, Dave! Also, is that your kitchen counter underneath the the last photo? That is the same kitchen counter from my parent’s house when I was growing up! 🙂

  6. Dave Reply

    March 16, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Yep, that’s my kitchen counter top. Largest kitchen I have ever had and it has acres of 70s butcher block plastic laminate. Odd thing is – the house was built in ’89.

    I would replace it all in a minute with turquoise boomerang, but I see a move to the desert in my future. The expense of a cool remodel (and the love of all things granite by the house buying public) makes a switch a money losing proposition for me.

    So butcher blocky it shall stay until the next owner does . . . whatever.

  7. Andrea Reply

    March 17, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Oh wow! That’s not just a TV, it’s a whole entertainment centre! Too cool, and what a deal!

  8. Desirae Reply

    March 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    She’s a beauty, way better than the other two. Love finding great deals.

  9. Freeman Reply

    December 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    This maybe to late. Hope your still around. I have the same Magnavox console that use to belong to my in-laws. Just got the TV and radio working. Now working on Phono. Cleaned it up and lubed, but still turns slow. Needs to be torn down and cleaned proper, but a little nervous without service manual. Pretty sure it’s a Collaro, but can’t find a model number that matches anything on Google. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. The sound coming out of this baby is beautiful. Still has the original 10″ speaker.

    Tks Freeman.

  10. Rob V. Reply

    October 4, 2016 at 3:31 am

    Just stumbled across your page, and was curious if you ever finished restoration of your Magnavox console? Your photos really brought back a rush of memories for me, because we had the identical ‘Contemporary’ set throughout my own childhood. My parents bought it new in 1952, and it was the first TV they’d ever owned. I was born in ’53, and fondly remember that Magnavox like it was yesterday. We watched it every day for at least 12 years, and other than occasional tube replacements, I can’t recall it ever needing major service. By the time the Magnavox was finally replaced with an RCA color console around 1965 or 1966, the picture had become a bit faded and blurry. But everything still worked, so the Magnavox was retired to the finished basement where the four kids fought over what to watch (seldom a big battle, since the Magnavox received only four VHF channels until the addition of a little battery-powered Blonder-Tongue UHF converter box a few years later expanded the choice by three or four more channels).

    At some point the guts of the Magnavox were removed, most likely by one of my brothers who loved taking stuff apart, and the empty blonde cabinet met an ignominius end when my dad decided that it would make a perfect stand for the tabletop drill press in his shop.

    One thing I do remember about the Magnavox was that its speaker was a bit odd, in that it was connected with about five wires vs. the usual two – a serious impediment to my desire to hook up an additional speaker. Is yours configured the same way?

    Anyway, my apologies for rambling on, and many thanks for bringing back the memories!

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