This is the Crosley FC-17TOS.
Today is Canadian Thanksgiving and so I figured this television would be an appropriate entry for today. If you’re like me, one of the images that comes to mind when thinking of Thanksgiving is the following Norman Rockwell picture: And even though I’ve never had a thanksgiving that looked like that, and even though it’s an American, not Canadian, thanksgiving pictured it still is strongly etched in my mind as “Thanksgiving”. So the reason I’ve chosen the Crosley for today is that if we were able to walk into the other room in the thanksgiving house that Rockwell painted, I’m pretty sure we would find a very similar television to this Crosley.
Crosley was a radio and television manufacturer from the early 20th century. I was surprised to find out they are still around. Here is a description of their history and current status from the Crosley website:
“In 1920 Powel Crosley founded the company that pioneered radio broadcasting and mass market manufacturing around the world. Dismayed with the $130 price tag for the radio receiver he promised to buy for his son’s birthday, Crosley decided to make his own. Upon successfully building a working set for only $35, Crosley was quick to spot the mass market potential. It was a simple idea – design a fully functioning radio, meticulously craft each unit with obsessive detail and precise accuracy, and of course add a measure of consideration for the wallet. Today the Crosley name lives on with superbly detailed replicas that truly transcend time. Reintroductions of original vintage radios and turntables feature the newest technologies graced by unforgettable Crosley stylings. The Crosley Collection includes AM/FM radios, portable suitcase – styled record players and turntables, record changers, multi- functional audio cassette/compact disc players, jukeboxes, music boxes, telephones and more. Rich lines, retro designs and authentic crafting have made Crosley today’s premier vintage electronics manufacturer. True to the Crosley tradition, these replicas are as fabulous as they are functional, providing a delightful dose of nostalgia.”
In attempting to track down my specific model’s origin, I came across this site here. The site contains a list of all the different television brands and models throughout all of television history (and I thought my quest to catalog my small collection was a lot!). On the page I’ve linked above, there is a Crosley model (F-17T0LH) described as “17” tabletop, wood (mahogany)” that was made in 1953. The model number on mine is FC-17-TOS, which I’m guessing stands for the Canadian version of this (17″) model. I’m not sure why mine is an S instead of LH, but if you have any ideas, leave a comment.
My brother-in-law found this television listed in the local classifieds. I called them up and found out that it was four blocks from my house. I went over to inspect it and was met at the door by a woman in her late fifties. She told me that she had recently broken up with her husband and was selling everything and moving to British Columbia. The television was in great condition for it’s age and still worked, so I bought it on the spot. She also had a large record player cabinet unit that she offered to me, but I declined as I didn’t have any room for it. She told me that the record player was the first piece of furniture she and her husband had bought after getting married thirty five years ago. “Who would have thought that it would last longer than my husband did?” she said to me. This made me rather sad. These days I doubt if most of our electronics would last longer than the average marriage, and given the length of the average marriage these days, that’s actually a horrible statement on the quality of our modern electronics.
When I showed the television to my dad he told me that when he had been a child in rural northern Alberta, their neighbour had a similar set, and it was the only television they knew for many years.
The television still works. It takes a minute or two before the screen warms up, and the screen it shows is a bluish-tinged blank white. The static noise comes out the back as it doesn’t have front-facing speakers, although the screen itself doesn’t display any static. It originally only had connections for a regular antenna, but it appears that a UHF antenna adapter was added after the fact. As there are no longer any analogue television signals, it doesn’t have anything to show anymore. It is functioning, but no longer functional. The lack of any kind of input ports aside from the antenna speaks to an age before cable, before VHS or DVD players, before the need to add anything else to the equation in order to use the television. It’s funny that when you think about it, when it comes to televisions, we went from a completely wireless environment to an overly-wired one.
When this television was created, Crosley was a company that was trying to make affordable and modern technology for the masses. Now Crosley makes expensive retro-styled radios and jukeboxes and record players that are made to look old, and marketed to a very select niche group. Not sure how Powel Crosley would feel about that one.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!