October 19, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: Plastic Fada radio

Vintage but modern-looking plastic radios are popular with collectors today. The art deco design was popular when Bakelite was introduced as the first molded plastic used for radio cases, in 1933. But Bakelite was either brown or black, sometimes with a marbleized look, and customers wanted more color.

In 1937, Catalin was a new plastic that was white or beige when used for a molded case. Red and a few other colors were also possible. The famous Fada radio used this plastic, but no one realized that the colors might fade.

Today, white cases have yellowed, and blue ones have turned dark green. The cases also shrink, crack and have other damage. But plastic scientists kept improving mixtures and manufacturing methods, and by the 1950s, other better and cheaper radios were made with new materials.

Today one of the older plastic radios in good working condition sells for $440 to $1,000. This Fada Model 845XA sold at a Palm Beach Modern auction for $1,000, although it was never tested to see if it works.

I bought a “personal wash set,” four pieces consisting of a chamber pot, pitcher and two smaller pieces. On the bottom they’re marked “Admiral V.P. Co.” I’ve searched online and can’t find any information on the company or item. It’s a pretty floral pattern, purple flowers on a white background, and is in very good shape. The seller thought the piece was made in the 1800s. Can you tell me anything about this set?

Wash sets were used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries before indoor plumbing became common. A washstand, usually in the bedroom, held the items necessary to “wash up.”

The pitcher was used to fill a washbasin or bowl. The chamber pot usually had a lid. Other pieces could include a soap dish, hair receiver, toothbrush holder and slop jar.

This mark was used by Vodrey Pottery Company of East Liverpool, Ohio. The company made white graniteware and semi-porcelain. It was in business under that name from 1896 until 1928. A pitcher and bowl set from an average maker sells for $100 to $150, the slop jar with lid for about $75, and small pieces for $25 to $40.

Current Prices

Tortoise shell glass powder jar, round, squat, lid with silver repousse decoration, c. 1900, 2 1/2 x 3 inches, $80.

Wood glove-making form, carved birch wood, mitten shape, tombstone style base, Gloversville, N.Y., c. 1910, 14 x 3 1/2 in., 6 pieces, $405.

Toy, bus, Seeing New York 899, open air, 4 passengers, driver, cast iron, 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches, $860.

Lamp, electric, Tripod, T. Robsjohn Gibbings, chrome, steel, 3 supports, center band, tapered linen shade, Widdicomb, c.1950, 47 x 19 inches, pair, $1,875.

Tip: Never store rhinestone jewelry in a plastic bag. Moisture inside the bag will cause the stones to discolor.

Terry and Kim Kovel

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. © 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.