This is a page to I have posted to help new and old catalin radio collectors. There is allot of information here that can help you determine what you are buying . It is my policy to describe accurately what I sell and I'm always willing to offer help so catalin radio buyers don't have to learn the hard way. .

Services Offered

1. Cut/Polish restoration of the catalin to its original color and polishing to a glass finish. Or I can also just put a hand polish on the radio.

2. Repairing cracked catalin radio cases. I developed resin repairs which can be used in repairing chips or missing areas OR I have been trained by Dan Blake to repair catalin radio cases using a technique he developed about 20 years ago. I use the materials and techniques he taught me to do these repairs which have stood the test of time.

3. I make reproduction parts cast from resin. I also can use a technique called cold casting to make parts that look like metal.

4. Straightening warped catalin.

5. Some radio electronic repair. I can repair the electronics to get your radio chassis playing in most cases.

6. I also buy and sell catalin radios and clocks.

7. Another service I offer is to evaluate the condition a radio collection or possibly a radio you are looking at to buy or sell. It's better to know before you spend thousands of dollars if you are buying an authentic original radio or if your radio has been repaired or altered in any way. In past evaluations I have found colored grills and trim pieces that have been cut from old stock catalin and machined to look like original parts. Colored Fada 5F60 and Fada L-56 grills are examples of what I have found to have been counterfeited. Theses parts were expertly machined and look great but that does not change the fact that they are not valued the same as an original part. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with parts being made, though I do have a problem with people selling them as originals to unsuspecting buyers with no knowledge of what they are buying. I have found also a black Motorola S-Grill case that was made of resin. I can identify these counterfeit parts before you make a very costly mistake.

8. Check out my items

New Collection For Sale

9. Check out the Worlds First Fender Catalincaster Guitar

For Catalincaster Pictures Click Here!!!

CONTACT INFORMATION: EMAIL : or call 425/345-6083

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First I would like to cover some points about catalin. Catalin changed color on the surface due to UV light causing a chemical breakdown that produced drastic color changes not only on the surface but into the surface about 1/64". Butterscotch almost always started out as white or alabaster white (marbled). Blue would turn dark green to almost a black sometimes, red would darken a bit though the white swirls would yellow causing the radio to take an orange tint. Green would take a brownish tint. When catalin cracks, the internal surface area of the crack turns color over time. This usually makes cracks appear as a dark line.


I have been asked by many collectors to help with the knowledge needed to evaluate the condition of catalin radios so I am going give the main points that I use in determining value. I sincerely hope this is helpful so that new and old collectors can get a better understanding about catalin. But first some history.
" There are no good buddies when it comes to these radios." That is a statement that a friend told me when I first got into collecting radios and as time passed I have found this to be a very accurate observation. The high values can bring out the worst in people. The best thing a buyer can arm himself or herself with is knowledge.
The value of catalin radios has been a sore subject. Old time radio collectors are usually a little pissed that the prices have gone crazy. They are actually mad that most of them had opportunities to buy but passed on radios that could have been bought for peanuts. The funny thing is that 20 years ago most of these guys in radio clubs across America ignored catalin radios calling them stupid plastic radios while collecting mostly wood sets. When the John Sideli book "Classic Plastic Radios" came out in 1990 the world of art deco collectors became aware of these beautiful radios and they started to compete for the radios. The prices started to go up and has gone up ever since. Every collector should own this book though there were a few radios left out. The Symphony split grill, The Detrola split grill, The Namco also put out as Bestone, and The Maguire and The Universal or Gillette. I own a prototype Stromberg Carlson that was never produced or published in any book.

When Ebay hit in the mid 1990's, pickers, antique dealers, and junkers across America saw what prices the catalins were fetching at auction. We then witnessed all of the radios that these people had been hoarding for years finally have an outlet to sell them and get the visibility of a world wide market. It was not unusual to see 20 radios a week on ebay. This went on for years and when 911 happened, the amount started to taper off. Now we are lucky to see a few radios for auction in a month.
What is my radio worth or how much should I pay??
There is no book that can be bought that accurately gives values. Most books are way off, usually low by a lot. And to make matters worse, the subtle differences like color or the amount of swirling and transparency in the different models can make huge differences in value. You can try to research what specific radios have sold for in the past but that can be hard to do. Recently at auction some radios from the Mark Woolley collection set some new records at Bonhams auction in New York Dec. 2007. Though as in most antique collectibles, an item is worth what someone is willing to pay.
There are a number of things one should know if your going to collect catalin radios.
Always buy perfect examples when possible.
This is a lot easier said than done. Catalin was not a very stable material and would shrink which causes internal stresses and sometimes stress cracks. All catalin shrinks to different degrees but if a radio was kept in a good environment there is a good chance of having survived in good shape. This is one of the realities of the material. When a perfect example is found, it will usually get top market dollar for its particular make, model, and color. Yes a radio can be repaired which I will cover later.
Is there something that can be done to help relieve the internal stresses caused by shrinkage that might be present in a radio case??
Yes, though it is not agreed on by everyone. By simply and slowly warming the whole case up and letting it cool the molecules will relax and realign. Some people have set them in the sun and others will put a hole in a box ant heat the radio in the box with hot hair from a hair dryer.
How do I get my chassis out when it is stuck??
Do not try to muscle it out. This is how allot of these get broken. Always use heat as described above or you can try the following method. The most common stuck chassis is the Sentinel Wavy grill The catalin shrinks so much that it seems impossible to get the chassis out. Here is what I do. Remove the knobs. Heat your oven up to 200-300 degrees or so for 20 minutes so the oven walls are heated. Then turn it off!!!!!! Place the radio in the oven and let the whole thing heat up from the hot air in the oven.This takes about 10 minutes. The catalin case must become very warm in order for the catalin to relax enough to get the chassis out. Catalin can take allot of heat. It won't melt like the newer plastics but it will burn from too much heat. Once it is very warm,(almost too hot to touch) place on a surface and take a small hammer and a long screw driver. Tap on the chassis accessed through the knob holes making sure you tap at the outside part of the whole so that you don't put the screw driver on the dial string, going from volume hole to tuning hole with a screw driver tapping gently on the metal chassis. Catalin relaxes when hot and you should be able to get it out. Take your time with light taps. Once it is out you can shave the chassis to get it back in.
What about straightening a warp?
Yes a warp can be straightened by heating the case to the point where it becomes pliable. Then it must be held in the straightened position until cool. A lot of warping is caused by the case shrinking. Even though you can straighten it using the heat, it has been my experience that the case might not stay exactly where you leave it. The warp can seem to have varying amounts of memory. Catalin does not melt!! It will become somewhat pliable at certain temperatures but if it gets to hot it will burn… Game Over!!
Are there any cracks?
Old cracks usually show up as a dark line. But new ones can be harder to see. A crack on a radio can cut the value by half. Where the crack is makes a difference. If there is an inner crack that does not appear to have traveled to the outside surface the value might go down 10% to 20%. It can be very difficult to detect a stress crack in blue catalin. That is because the outer surface has become very dark green to almost black. It might be necessary to use a jewelers loop or magnifying glass in conjunction with bright light. In most brightly color catalin it is easily spotted. You should inspect every inch of the radio. If the radio has been bumped it can show car window spider cracks.
Are there any chips?
Just feel all the edges with your hands. It is quite common to find chips on the holes that hold on the cardboard backs. Chips can also lower the value.
Are the trim and knobs original? Knobs, grills, and handles
Original parts are always a plus. I make most Resin replacement parts that are available if needed and there is someone I know machining real catalin parts from old stock catalin. This is a preferable replacement part if the color matches. Non original parts greatly affect the values.
Is there any tube burn or heat discoloration?
You should always inspect the inside of the radio case and hold it up against a strong light source. Any sign of damage on the inside will definitely show on the outside of the case if you ever cut/polish the case to the original color.
Is there any sign of small surface crazing known as catalin cancer?
This is a condition that can develop if a radio has been in a bad environment or I have seen it happen from chemicals. Sometimes it can be sanded out but in most cases there is nothing that can be done. Stay Away!!! Whenever you buy a Fada bullet you should inspect around the dial bezel for stress lines because they were held in with a glue that would cause stress lines or catalin cancer under the lip / edge of the bezel.
Has the radio sustained UV damage (ultra violet light)?? This is hard to detect with 60 years of patina and color change, you should defer to an expert. The lighter pastel colors are very susceptible to fading like a pink Tom Thumb or a turquoise Motorola circle grill which almost always show fading.
What about hand polishing and patina? There is nothing wrong with polishing radios using a rag or wheel and a compound though this can be a bit tricky to keep the color nice and even. The more you polish, the lighter the radio becomes. You have probably noticed there are a lot of shades of yellow to butterscotch radios. They are almost always alabaster white when made but because of the surface patina color change that happens to catalin, they all look a little different. This is like looking at something through a yellow colored gel frame. Sometimes you cannot tell what color something is until it is sanded. There are radios that should be left alone like the rare ones.
What about cut / polishing or restoring a radio to its original color?
All catalin changes color on the surface and the only way to get the true color is to cut /polish the surface. Though a lot of the patina will wash off with strong detergent and show more color, the only way to get through to the original color is to sand the surface with wet sand paper It is recommended by many purists that you stop with a detergent cleaning and hand polish the radio. Cut polishing is sanding through the surface discoloration to get to the original color. The amount of material removed varies from color to color. It is a complicated process and should be left to the pro’s. As to whether you should do your radio, ? That is up to you. It can affect the value sometimes and if you are not sure, ask an expert.
Will the radio turn color again?
Yes, the radio will always change! Nothing stops the color change… If you keep it out of direct sunlight it might slow the process down. Some collectors use a marine grade high UV protection wax Different colors will change at different rates. The fastest changing color is the pure white Emerson Patriots that will change back to orange in 3 years. It seems that the more white pigment that was part of the original color, the more the change is noticed. Darker colors can take years longer to become noticeable.
Does the radio need to play?
This is totally up to the collector. It is nice to have a functional radio though there is a danger of tube heat causing damage to the case.


I must first explain that this is the most polarized issue when collecting radios…
The Purist collector point of view believe radios should not be repaired, cut polished, or altered in any way. A light hand polish is acceptable. They would rather look at a radio with a crack than have it repaired.
The other point of view does not mind a repaired catalin case mainly because they want the radio to display like the art deco jewel that it is.
When a radio has been repaired what does this mean?
There are a number of types repairs that can be done. A chip can be repaired with a color matched resin. This can be done in colors like red, green, yellow, but the process usually means that the case has been cut/polished to its original color.
How can I tell if my radio has been repaired?
Identifying a repaired case can be difficult. If you take some polishing compound on a white towel and rub the surface you should get a yellowish or orange residue off the case. If you get nothing it could mean that the radio case has been repaired and clear coated. Though if you radio has recently been cut polished to the original color you will also get nothing. If you look on the inside of a radio case and see a dark tube burn and on the outside you see no evidence of a discoloration that means your radio has been painted over the tube burn. If the art work was done well it can be very difficult to spot a repaired area. Sometimes a radio case will have been repaired and clear coated only on one side. You can look for color inconsistencies. The area where the art work might show a different brighter color value if catalin around the art work has changed color. I have found some clear coated surfaces will get a powdery oxidation on it but this will wipe off with a little polishing compound. Sometimes you might see some little pin holes in the surface where the actual repair medium is located. If the radio was cracked and repaired you can usually identify the areas by looking at the inside of the radio. Most repair men don't finish the inside of the case a you will see grooves or little holes in the repair medium. These grooves are 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. If you hold the case up to a very strong light you can usually see a shadow of the repaired crack even if the repair was finished inside and out. One sure fire way is to put paint stripper on it but that will ruin the repair. You can rub a little stripper on a paper towel on the inside of the case and you might see evidence of overspray and color rub off. Hopefully you won't have to do anything that drastic. The stripper or acetone won't hurt the catalin.

The most widely used type of repair was developed by Dan Blake and is outlined as follows
first ///
The crack is repaired and leveled. This is done grinding away material in the crack from the inside and outside which increases the surface bonding area and fiberglass fibers are added to the inside groove to give the bonding agent strength.
Second ///
there is air brush art work done over the crack. This is done to emulate the marbling and color. Sometimes artwork has been done to a tube burn to hide it. A lot of collectors hate tube burn, The artwork is really the most difficult part because it must create a three dimensional look in a two dimensional plane.
a clear coat is applied to the radio case which is sometimes toned to help the color. The clear coat is the polished out to give the radio a nice level shine.

What does a repair cost?
This depends upon the damage. Any where from $200- $1000
Will the repairs hold up?
The repairs should hold up fairly well though the catalin changing color is a big problem. If one chooses to repair a blue radio, The artwork over the cracks will remain blue while the areas where the catalin is not painted will turn green even though it is covered in clear coat. The clear coat does not stop the color change. This will become noticeable in about 3 years. If the correct materials are used and the repair process is done correctly, The repairs should hold up fairly well. Though as the years roll by I think the repaired areas will become evident to varying degrees depending on color.
What does it do to the value?
The values are about the same as a broken catalin radio or maybe a little more (50%-70% of perfect examples). This can vary depending on the rarity of the radio.

How can I tell if my radio is a reproduction??
Catalin radios have been reproduced over the years by a number of different people. They were made out of different resins and are very easy to tell when examined closely. There was a fine gentlemen who made a number of different models known as Gimmy'who made in small quantities such as a red and blue Emerson AU190 tombstones, Halsons, both Tom Thumbs, cases for the Sparton Cloisonne, and yellow w/red trim Baby Addisons. There was another guy who made Fada Bullets and yet someone else who made a bunch of exotic color Baby Addisons. If you examine the surface of a resin cased radio you will find a bunch of tiny pin holes. I have heard that the black and red Motorola S Grill was reproduced by someone in Hollywood though I have never seen one.
The radios that are harder to tell are the radios that were converted from real catalin cases that were formed from the same molds that the radios were made. Such as the Halliwell Solar timer that was made in the color of oxblood only. So if you see a split grill Detrola, or Symphony in the color of oxblood, it is a made up radio. Also the Espey radio had it's case used also to make Ozone Generators. Allot of these have been converted not so much to deceive anyone but because the Espey is so rare that only a few examples are known to exist. Making one was the only realistic way to get one on the shelf. If the speaker slits are all the same length, it is a made up radio. Another is the Universal and Gillette which were also some very rare radios that have been made from a different more square air Ionizer. They have never climbed to the high values of the Espey mostly because it is debated as to if they were really a radio that was made. Mostly because you don't see them in books.

1. Cut Polish Restoration.

2. Crack and chip repair

3. Replacing missing pieces.

4. Repairs done using the Dan Blake method.

5. Manufactured reproduction resin parts

I currently make molds for almost all parts for catalin radios. If your in need of something special drop me an email.

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