Thread Number: 54894
Black Cabinet Vintage Magnavox Imperial
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Post# 772605   7/23/2014 at 01:11 (2,043 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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I've seen a few of these very nice sounding Magnavox Imperial consoles but never in a black cabinet. Top is sliding glass. Pattern on front panels screams "mid century." Not bargain-priced at $599 but there may be room for negotiation. I like it.

you know what they say...once you go black...

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Post# 772607 , Reply# 1   7/23/2014 at 01:31 (2,043 days old) by funktionalart (Rison, AR)        
I have the 1964 Asian Modern version of this....

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Need to photo it for the archives here--same overall look, speaker fabric being printed with cherry blossom trees (I think) and brass campaign style cabinet trim/door pulls. Cool stuff! And is really, really scarce in these cabinets.

Post# 772610 , Reply# 2   7/23/2014 at 01:37 (2,043 days old) by funktionalart (Rison, AR)        
Here's a pic of someone else's....

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Same as mine, tho. Surprised I found a pic of one online! Very rarely seen, these.

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Post# 772614 , Reply# 3   7/23/2014 at 03:27 (2,043 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

NICE!!!Never seen a black one before.

Post# 772642 , Reply# 4   7/23/2014 at 09:47 (2,043 days old) by Volvoguy87 (Cincinnati, OH)        

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Classiccaprice has a 1959 Magnavox Imperial like that but not in black. The Imperial is one step down from the TOL Concert Grand and is a very impressive piece of audio equipment indeed. The glass covers are usually broken.

Rather expensive, especially considering the work that would likely be necessary to put it back in top notch working order.

Post# 772651 , Reply# 5   7/23/2014 at 10:17 (2,043 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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Thanks for posting this, Joe!

I grew up with--and was fascinated by--our Magnavox console stereo. My sister thinks it was purchased in 1957 or '58 (I came along in '59). The tone arm, record stabilizer, 45-rpm adapter, the white rubber mat, and controls look like the one we had.

However, ours didn't have the gizmo just to the left of the record stabilizer. It looks like something that would tell the tone arm if a 10" or 12" record had just dropped to the turntable. Anyone know if that's its purpose?

Our Magnavox sensed the size of the record this way: The tonearm would come up and touch the edge of the record being held up by the spindle. The arm would retreat, the record would drop, and then the tonearm would return to the lead-in groove to play the record.

Did this one use a different means to detect record sizes? If not, why is the "gizmo" needed?

This was awesome when playing 45's, as sometimes there would be a slight difference in size from record to record. The Maggie was able to compensate for that by the way it sensed the size of the record. It rarely missed the lead-in groove on a 7" single, as some changers used to.

Some of us are old enough to remember when certain brands of cereal would have a cheap single pressed into the back of the box. You'd cut the record out with scissors and play it. I used to purposely cut them to slightly different sizes to see if the Magnavox would sense them correctly, and it always did. Needless to say, those cheap little plastic 'n' cardboard singles didn't last too long, but they were fun. I recall several singles by The Archies and The Banana Splits being made available in cereal-box format.

What a beautiful cabinet this one has; I've never seen one like it before, either.

Allen, the cabinet of your '64 is awesome.

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Post# 772660 , Reply# 6   7/23/2014 at 12:20 (2,043 days old) by classiccaprice (Hampton, Virginia)        

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My 1959 is in a colonial cabinet, though it won't be mine much longer. Looks like this one. Imperial was Magnavox's TOL through the mono era, but was bumped down to second fiddle in 1958 to 1961 under the concert grand. It's quite impressive, while typical Magnavox's that come up regularly on craigslist were about $200, the Imperial was about $600... That said a concert grand was about $1,100... All in 1959 dollars. A 58 to 61 concert grand in a modern cabinet is on the wish list. Forgive the double pics. I can't seem to delete them!

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Post# 772722 , Reply# 7   7/23/2014 at 18:49 (2,043 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        
That Canoga Park Magnavox in black is

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less than a mile from where I lived, years ago, in the Woodland Garden Apartments on Randi Ave. I really like the speaker grille treatment and horizontal pieces covering it - would be nice to see the unit closed to show off both sides. $599 too rich for me.

Allen - I like your Magnavox - haven't seen that one before so thanks for posting one like yours.

Frigilux - oh man, you brought back a memory long forgotten - cutting out records that were part of the cereal box backs. I can't remember if we had one or two of those, but you're right, they didn't last long. Those were the days...cereals were such huge marketing vehicles.

Classiccaprice - one day, I'd just like to hear one of these higher end Magnavox's play. I take yours and others words for it - the sound is still impressive.

My '57 Magnavox is waiting for restoration. Pulls in Am, but barely audible FM. This one is similar to mine, but I have internal switches for external speakers and there's a three wire cartridge for the upcoming stereo records that came in I think mine is a later 1957 run.

Post# 772806 , Reply# 8   7/24/2014 at 02:23 (2,042 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Cereal box records---remember those when someone brought it up-what few we tried were played on our "kiddie phono"NEVER on Dads Dynaco system or my Moms Magnavox Concert Grand!Also remember the cardboard records that came with other packages,too-usually long ads for the product-the records had that funky-"tinny sound"And they had LOTS of rumble,wow and flutter.Good reason NOT to play them on a hi-fi!Wouldn't it be funny if cereal makers and others included recordings in or on the packages in a digital format!

Post# 772807 , Reply# 9   7/24/2014 at 02:48 (2,042 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

WiLL: That Magnavox Imperial you have is nice-My Mom and Stepfather bought a Magnavox Concert Grand from a Magnavox Hi-Fi dealer in El Paso(1962).Last I saw of it was in Florida-My Stepdad died,Mom still had the Magnavox Asked her if I could have it when she wanted to get rid of it.She did--She gave it to a Goodwill place in Florida,and bought an Onkyo receiver,pair of Infinity speakers and a CD player,TT-can't remember the brands of the TT or CD machine.She forgot I wanted the Magnavox,I was willing to pay for its shipping to me in Greenville.the search goes on----The big problems in my area-Magnavox is VERY rare here-no dealer,and folks here didn't want to spend the money on a Magnavox.Nearest dealers would be Raligh and Charlette.
Phil: REALLY nice Magnavox you scored there-if it works as good as it does--I am with you LEAVE IT ALONE!!!I do the same with old vacuums or other gear-if it works well-LEAVE IT ALONE.Good you were able to service the TT,though-the heat from the amps dries out the grease.That happened to my Moms unit-had to grease its TT on every visit to her-got good at it.Also greased some neighbors Garrard TT.I can agree on caps and other parts-they just aren't as good-and they may not last as long,either.For my McIntosh amps just can't find the 525V and 550V electrolytics they need-tried everywhere-no luck-even the G fiddle amp places!It is sad on some Magnavoxes-they are broken down for---their speakers--Bass G fiddle guys LOVE those bass Msggie speakers for their bass amps!

Post# 772825 , Reply# 10   7/24/2014 at 06:14 (2,042 days old) by 112561 (River Park, in Port St. Lucie, Florida)        
Frank Freimann

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President of Magnavox until his death in 1968, was a great lover of Asian art and decor, that's why he had the Far Eastern Contemporary and Danish cabinets available in black lacquer, and/or walnut. The only black unit I recall seeing outside of a brochure was the budget radio phono they had from around 1965 through 1969, sometimes model named the Canton. And I think that wasn't even lacquer, just a black sprayed finish. Whoever can end up with that one in the picture won't lose any money on it.

Post# 772829 , Reply# 11   7/24/2014 at 06:33 (2,042 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Wasn't there an "Oreintal" furniture craze at the time those Magnavoxes were made?Thought there was at one time.

Post# 772830 , Reply# 12   7/24/2014 at 06:59 (2,042 days old) by classiccaprice (Hampton, Virginia)        

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We had a dealer here and lower end products turn up often. That said, a friend of mine saw a concert grand in the thrift a few years back and didn't buy it not knowing what it was. :o When he educated himself, it was too late. One day I'll get it, but not today.

Post# 772853 , Reply# 13   7/24/2014 at 10:27 (2,042 days old) by estatesale_gary (Golden Valley)        
1958 Concert Grand

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I had a 1958 Concert Grand for a few years. I help out at a local vintage music store that specializes in restoring old stereos and swap out this stuff when something more interesting comes along. Last year, I traded it in on a different set - a Steelman 2-piece. Was a powerhouse. Hauling it up my basement stairs was not fun.

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Post# 772864 , Reply# 14   7/24/2014 at 12:01 (2,042 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        

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Reply #11 - yes, there was an Oriental theme in decor that was popular; my sister followed it for years. I want to say early 80's(?) anyone(?) or maybe the mid to late 70's (I could research but someone will reply faster than I can verify, lol )

Rex - that youtube video I provided, just so we're on the same page, is not me;but his set is exactly like mine, minus some controls inside the TT chamber where external speaker switching is possible. Unlike his, mine will require some work, as the FM is barely audible with volume turned all the way up..and only some stations come in. The tuning eye, A.M. works fine. My TT will need some adjustments and a proper cartridge to allow either the mono or stereo choice(think it's a dual-needle cartridge?). I love the old tube stuff, although I enjoy the SS stuff that sounds darn close to a tube set.

Gary(estatesale_gary) - Picture #2 - Those Steelman pairs are attractive. I never heard of the brand, so for anyone wondering, here's some info:

"Steelman was a division of Herold Radio & Electronics and at least some of their consoles were manufactured in Canada by Electrohome at their Kitchenor, Ont. plant. " -from a conversation on

Here's a list from listing the Steelman models and years: (not sure if it's complete):

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Post# 772870 , Reply# 15   7/24/2014 at 13:36 (2,042 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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I had friends who owned that same Magnavox HiFi in the above video but in a black cabinet with a black glass sliding top and gold veining. It was an attractive little thing and sounded great. The lady who owned it was a "bobby-soxer" in Rhode Island during Frank Sinatra's early years and she blasted his records on it. That huge bass speaker rattled the walls.

And as encouragement to members who desire a Magnavox Concert just have to keep searching and you just might find one close enough and at the right price. It took me 2 years to find a good one. I think Craigslist is your best bet. Most of them seem to have no reference to "Concert Grand," simply listed as a Magnavox Stereo, radio, record player etc.

That black Imperial is a 2 1/2 hour drive from me and I'm so tempted to inquire about it. Unfortunately the last thing I need is another project stereo. On the other hand I see there are members with half a dozen Duomatics in their garage which causes me to think "what the hey?"

Just my request, the seller emailed a pic of the back of the stereo. I don't like the way it looks. Someone's "fa-cocted" it up. I'd prefer untouched.

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This post was last edited 07/24/2014 at 15:01
Post# 772878 , Reply# 16   7/24/2014 at 14:46 (2,042 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        
Good advice

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.Joe, you're right - it might take a year or two ..or get lucky and find a Concert Grand in less time.

Meanwhile, here's one like mine and an Imperial

1950's Magnificent Magnavox Tube Console - $75 (Totem Lake/Woodinville -

and an Imperial: RESTORED Magnavox Imperial Console Stereo w/Turntable, Tube Amplifier - $550 (Carrollton)

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Post# 772880 , Reply# 17   7/24/2014 at 15:17 (2,042 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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Phil, Will, Joe, Others-- Our Magnavox changed records using a different sensing protocol than your machines show. The tonearm, record stabilizer, and 45-rpm adapter looked like the one in this example, but ours did not have the speed/reject control mechanism in one "tower" as shown here. It had two separate shorter controls (as yours show).

Does anyone know when the record-sensing protocol shown here was adopted by Magnavox? My sister is fairly sure our Magnavox was in the house before I was born in January of 1959, and I seem to recall seeing a photo taken in our living of my dad holding me as a tiny infant with the stereo showing in the background.

Post# 772936 , Reply# 18   7/24/2014 at 22:40 (2,041 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        

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hope I am not drifting this posting, so I'll end my comments here...

Joe -all original only - what else did they tamper with, one would ask?

Frigilux - Interesting video of the Imperial Magnavox TT arm /record-sensing mechanism in action. I'll need to watch how mine works, more closely. I haven't used it, as it's a project waiting in the wings. :-)

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Post# 772940 , Reply# 19   7/24/2014 at 22:54 (2,041 days old) by rickr (.)        

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Phil, your Collaro changer has a "drop feeler" The tower behind the tone arm contains the feeler. In about 1960 Collaro changed over to an "arm scan" although they used leftover tone and balance arms from the the "drop feeler" changers.

Here is a link to my Collaro Micromatic 90 which uses the same "arm scan" This changer came out in late 1965.


Post# 772943 , Reply# 20   7/24/2014 at 22:59 (2,041 days old) by rickr (.)        

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This is a link to my 1961 Magnavox portable with the Collaro "Custom" Same tone arm scan. This changer pre dates the Micromatics, but many of the parts are interchangeable, and the operation is the same.


Post# 772945 , Reply# 21   7/24/2014 at 23:13 (2,041 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        
Drop Feeler

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Rick - Thank you so much for explaining this. The feeler actually is a mechanism(?) that comes out of the tower, I am guessing (didn't observe yet) and the arm scan works differently. I really enjoy watching both of these videos- thanks for posting them and again, distinguishing the different sensors. I haven't heard that song, which I can't recall, since the late 60's, I think...? Maybe you can clarify. :-)

Post# 773020 , Reply# 22   7/25/2014 at 09:24 (2,041 days old) by rickr (.)        

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G.Morning Phil!
The song on the portable is Little Black Egg by the Music Explosion. The song on the console is We've Saved The Best For Last by Smokey Robinson.

Post# 773023 , Reply# 23   7/25/2014 at 09:44 (2,041 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

Yes, around 1959 there was interest in Chinese decor in furniture, home audio equipment and television. My parents had an Olympic B&W television bought in 1959. They chose the Mahogany wood, but in the showroom it was also available in what I called "Grand Piano Black" with an Asian flower theme painted on it. I think this craze carried on until 1962 or so, then disappeared.

I saw very little Chinese decorations in homes I was in/visiting when I was a kid up in the Chicago area, but when we came to Texas still to this day you will almost always find at least one item in a room with an Asian theme. It could be a lamp, a table, a painting on the wall or a vase, etc.

Post# 773617 , Reply# 24   7/28/2014 at 16:40 (2,038 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        
Oriental style furniture

must have been popular in the early 50's. Remember the Chinese Modern furniture that Carolyn Appleby had on "I Love Lucy"?

The episode title was "Lucy Tells the Truth", from Nov. 1953. Lucy didn't like Carolyn's new furniture very much.

Post# 773624 , Reply# 25   7/28/2014 at 17:10 (2,038 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        
In "Lucy Tells The Truth"...

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As I recall, she said "It looks like a bad dream you'd have after eating too much Chinese food." I thought it was very "New York Chic."

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Post# 773628 , Reply# 26   7/28/2014 at 17:35 (2,038 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

When Carolyn asks Lucy what she thinks of the new furniture, she replies "It's a dream!". But then Ethel says "What kind of dream, Lucy?" which she has to reply as Twintubdexter says above, to avoid telling a lie.

Post# 773665 , Reply# 27   7/28/2014 at 21:28 (2,037 days old) by scoots (Chattanooga TN)        
The "Drop Feeler" was also used by German Equipment.

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German makers like Blaupunkt, Lowe Opta, etc built their own radios and console cabinets, but tended to by record changers from Perpetuum Ebner. The Rex A and AA models were popular from about 1955 to 1965 (with cosmetic changes along the way).

The German cycle used a sweep motion of the tone arm as the Mangavox did, however, before sweeping, the record dropped onto a step on the spindle first. This put the record in the same plane as the tone arm probe. It also sent a signal to the sequencer to show there was a record in position. As a result, there is no "feeling" at the end of a play sequence for a record; there's no weight on the spindle so the mechanism shuts off.

BTW there were minor differences: Blapunkts (as seen in the videos) used conventional stabilizer arms, most other makes used a stacking disk to keep records level.

This drop feeler was probably used because records (especially in Europe) were not as standardized as they became in the 60s. 7", 10" and 12" could all be found at 33 RPM. And this allows them to be mixed.

Closing thought: the Perpetuum Ebners also had 16 RPM record. Normally the fidelity of that speed was too low for music, so it was mostly used for spoke word (Plays of Shakespeare or Bible readings). Some jurisdictions mandated the speed for the blind. The only 16 RPM music recordings I can think of were the proprietary records put out by Seeberg Background Music, a kind of Muzak popular up to the 80's

I thought this little dance was unique to Perpetuum Ebners: when I was a little boy I was fascinated by my Grandmother's Blaupunkt and was keenly disappointed that my father's GE did not do the same thing.


Post# 773668 , Reply# 28   7/28/2014 at 21:33 (2,037 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        
New York Chic

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Joe - that's about right, chic. :-) Nowadays, I am still remembering an interview I saw and taped years ago, when Larry Ellison was interviewed in his Samurai house on 1.6 acres(now sold). I could easily live with a music room done with some inspirations from that house and plop a few of the Magnavox Oriental cabinets through a few rooms.

Eugene - I meant to add, I always loved the song " A Little Bit of Soul" by the Music Explosion and just learned the lead singer died 8 years ago, Jamie Lyon. Thanks again for your help & post.

Does anyone have a brochure of the Oriental cabinets available back when, from Magnavox?

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This post was last edited 07/28/2014 at 21:56

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