Books and Magazines

On this page I will give details and my comments on several books and magazine, both recent and old, relating to valve radios. Obviously I cannot cover every book published; I am just including those I have read. The contact details for the magazine publishers are given on the Suppliers page. Many of the books are available from On The Air, and from Radio Bygones magazine, contact details are on the Suppliers page.


Current and Recent Books

Electronic Classics

Title: Restoring Valve Radios - A Comprehensive Guide
Author: Tony Thompson
Publisher: VRW Publications
Date: 2003
Price: 13.95

A full review of this book is included elsewhere on this website. Click Here to read it.

Valve Radio and Audio Repair Handbook

Title: Valve Radio & Audio Repair Handbook (Second Edition)
Author: Chas E. Miller
Publisher: Newnes
ISBN: 0-7506-3995-4
Date: 2000
Price: 19.99

A full review of this book is included elsewhere on this website. Click Here to read it.

Electronic Classics

Title: Vintage Radios (Collecting - Servicing - Restoring)
Author: Tony Thompson
Publisher: VRW Publications
ISBN: 0-9538218-0-3
Date: 2000
Price: 12.95

A full review of this book is included elsewhere on this website. Click Here to read it.

Electronic Classics

Title: Electronic Classics - Collecting, Restoration and Repair
Author: Andrew Emmerson
Publisher: Newnes
ISBN: 0-7506-3788-9
Date: 1998
Price: 19.99

A full review of this book is included elsewhere on this website. Click Here to read it.
Electronic Classics

Title: Marconi's Atlantic Leap
Author: Gordon Bussey
Publisher: Marconi
ISBN: 0-95389-670-6
Date: 2001
Price: 6.99

This book was published to commemorate the centenary of Marconi's great achievement in bridging the Atlantic with wireless. The book is thoroughly researched and contains many fascinating photographs and documents. It is also very well written by Gordon Bussey (Historical Consultant to Marconi PLC). Complementary copies were sent to all members of the BVWS in February 2001. At just £6.99 for a 90 page hardback book, it is superb value for money and is recommended for all collectors who have an interest in the historical aspects of wireless.
The Bill Smith Chronicles (Parts 1 and 2)

Title: The Bill Smith Chronicles (Parts 1 and 2)
Author: Bill Smith
Publisher: W Smith
Date: 1999
Price: 5.00

The Bill Smith Chronicles were originally published in Radiophile magazine, and Bill has now republished them in book form. The book is an enjoyable read for anyone interested in any aspect of vintage radio. Bill was an early convert to "The Wireless" in the early 30s, and continued in the trade right up to his retirement in the 90s. This book covers the period from his early years up to the 50s, and is written in a light-hearted yet informative style. For information about purchasing this book, email Bill: bill (at) 11bmar.fsnet.co.uk

Rapid Radio Repair - Standard Superhets

Title: Rapid Radio Repair - Standard Superhets
Author: Chas E Miller
Publisher: Radiophile Publications
Date: 1999
Price: 2.95

This 64-page booklet is the first in a series of eight, written and published by the publisher of Radiophile magazine, and is available directly from them (see the Suppliers page). I found myself wondering just who the book is intended for - it assumes a reasonable understanding of the operation of valves and superhet radio circuits, and just explains how to diagnose and repair sets quickly. Probably highly relevant for people in the trade 40 years ago (as Chas was), but most restorers and collectors today will be more interested in taking their time and doing a careful and thorough job. Having said that, the book contains a number of useful hints and tips, and is good value for money. If you understand roughly how valves and radios work, but are having problems relating this to practical repairs, this small book is for you.

Rapid Radio Repair - Standard Superhets

Title: Rapid Radio Repair - The Why and How of Alignment
Author: Chas E Miller
Publisher: Radiophile Publications
Date: 2000
Price: 2.95

This new 74-page booklet is the second in the Rapid Radio Repair series from Radiophile. I have only just received it and have not had time to read it fully yet, but from a quick look through it appears to be very comprehensive. Alignment is one area that can significantly affect the performance of a set, and this book gives the subject the detailed coverage it deserves.

Radio! Radio!

Title: Radio! Radio!
Author: Jonathan Hill
Publisher: Sunrise Press
Date: 2nd Edition 1993, 3rd Edition available now
Price: 25 (2nd Edition)

This book gives a full and detailed history of the development of radio from the early discoveries towards the end of the 19th century up, to the end of the 1960s. The book is thoroughly researched, and is also very readable. It also contains hundreds of good black-and-white photographs of receivers, together with a cross-reference index. Radio! Radio! is regarded as "The Radio Bible" by many British collectors. If you want to buy just one vintage radio book, buy this one! I have a copy of the 2nd Edition; the 3rd Edition is now available (priced at 35 I think).

Bakelite Radios

Title: Bakelite Radios
Authors: Robert Hawkes in collaboration with Gad Sassower
Publisher: Apple Press
Date: 1996
Price: About 12

This book concentrates on the radio cabinet as an art form and collectable object - technical matters are almost totally ignored. It contains over 130 full-colour photos and is well presented, but I feel it is lacking any real content. The information is minimal and opinionated rather than factual, and overall I felt the book was rather a disappointment. Another irritation is that it was printed in China rather than here in the UK. My copy is priced at 8.99 but I have recently seen copies for sale at around 12. The author has also produced a book called "Radio Art". Although I have not read this I have looked through a copy in a shop and it appears to have a similar style and content.

The Setmakers

Title: The Setmakers (A history of the radio and television industry)
Authors: Keith Geddes in collaboration with Gordon Bussey
Publisher: BREMA (The British Radio & Electronic Equipment Manufacturer's Association)
Date: 1991
Price: Unknown (probably about 25?)

According to the sleeve-notes: "The Setmakers chronicles the development of the British story (of radio and television), a Hollywood style saga reflecting the rise of the colourful entrepreneurs who responded to the explosive growth of radio in the 1930s and television in the 1950s - and the subsequent demise of some in the lean years that followed...". The book concentrates on the history of the manufacturers, rather than the technical developments, but is still an interesting read. It is the sort of book you would probably read once, but would be unlikely to continually refer to. It is available from many libraries in the UK, so I would advise anyone interested to borrow a copy first.

The Radio - An Appreciation

Title: The Radio (An Appreciation)
Authors: David Attwood
Publisher: Aurum Press
Date: 1997
Price: 5.99

This beautifully presented book contains 36 photographs and brief descriptions of classic and interesting radios dating from the 1920s to the 1990s but primarily covering the 1930s to the 1950s. The book concentrates solely on the style and design of the radio cabinets - the inner workings is hardly mentioned at all. The photography is very good, however I feel too many of the sets are viewed directly from the front. Although hardback, this book is only about 150mm square, so with many pages covering two sets, the pictures are quite small. Despite all this, the book is good value for money.

Antique Radio Restoration Guide

Title: Antique Radio Restoration Guide (2nd Edition)
Author: David Johnson
Publisher: Krause Publications
Date: 1992
Price: $14.95

I purchased this book during a business trip to the USA. I understand it is also available in the UK from some vintage radio book importers, but I do not know the UK price or supplier details. The book aims to be a guide for the beginner who knows little or nothing about radio. I think it does a reasonable job, although the author tries to cram a lot of information into a small space and many readers could find it all a bit fast-paced and confusing. Because this is a beginner's book, more experienced enthusiasts may find themselves skipping sections.

Old Radio Sets

Title: Old Radio Sets
Author: Jonathan Hill
Publisher: Shire Publications
Date: 1993
Price: 2.95

This small 32-page booklet is one of a series of over 400 "Sire Albums" on antiques and collecting. It contains many black-and-white photos, together with a concise history of radio written by the author of "Radio! Radio!". It gives a good basic introduction to the subject, however those who already own a copy of "Radio! Radio!" would feel it was little more than a summary of that book. This book, as well as the other "Shire Albums" described below, is available from "On The Air", see the Suppliers page for contact details.

Old Television

Title: Old Television
Author: Andrew Emmerson
Publisher: Shire Publications
Date: 1998
Price: 2.95

This 32-page booklet is another of the "Sire Albums" series. The author, Andrew Emmerson, is the founder and editor of "405 Alive"; the worlds only magazine devoted to vintage television, so he certainly knows his subject. Like "Old Radio Sets" this book gives good basic background information about the development of television, as well as discussing collecting vintage equipment and related hobbies and interest groups. As someone who is less knowledgeable about this subject, I found the book to be a very good introduction, which is exactly its purpose.

Old Gramophones

Title: Old Gramophones (And Other Talking Machines)
Author: Benet Bergonzi
Publisher: Shire Publications
Date: 1991
Price: 2.95

This Shire Album covers more than just gramophones, it covers the whole range of mechanical recording equipment including phonographs. It is primarily a historical account - and shows that "standards wars" started long before the days of video recorders! The book gives a concise and interesting, although slightly heavy-going, introduction to this fascinating subject.

Old Telephones

Title: Old Telephones
Author: Andrew Emmerson
Publisher: Shire Publications
Date: 1986
Price: 2.95

Unlike the other Shire Albums I have seen, this volume is more of a collectors guide than a historical account. Descriptions of various pieces of equipment predominate, although there are various other sections including a brief account of how telephones work, and a couple of pages covering the main types of telephone kiosk. I cannot help feeling that the book tries to cover bits of everything, and consequently looses direction. Nevertheless, it does provide a reasonable introduction to the subject, which is obviously what the Shire Albums set out to achieve.

Sinclair Archeology

Title: Sinclair Archaeology
Author: Enrico Tedeschi
Publisher: Hove Books (Website http://www.brighton-uk.com)
Date: 1996
Price: 10

This book is self-published by Enrico. Although the presentation is perhaps a bit amateur (it is described as "cut with scissors and pasted with Prit Stick glue") and the photocopying quality a bit lacking in places, the fascinating information contained in the book more than makes up for this. There is a page or so of original text as an introduction to each section, followed by a carefully selected collection of Sinclair publicity material, instruction leaflets, etc. If you are interested in this amazing man and his fascinating products and ideas, you will enjoy this book. For more information or to order visit Enrico's website or email him: enrico (at) brighton-uk.com.

Guglielmo Marconi in London

Title: Guglielmo Marconi in London (an historical tour)
Author: Enrico Tedeschi
Publisher: Hove Books (Website http://www.brighton-uk.com)
Date: 1998
Price: 5

This book is also self-published by Enrico. Although it is still photocopied the printing and presentation is more professional. The book describes a tour of several landmarks around London, and explanations of their relevance to the Marconi story. The tour should take around three hours, and guided tours are available some Saturday mornings. If you are interested in this important aspect of wireless history, and are planning a visit to London, this book and tour would be an ideal companion. For more information or to order visit Enrico's website or email him: enrico (at) brighton-uk.com.

The Magic of Sony

Title: The Magic of Sony
Author: Enrico Tedeschi
Publisher: Hove Books (Website http://www.brighton-uk.com)
Date: 1999
Price: 18

This is Enrico's latest self-published book. Again it is photocopied, but the original artwork is now computer generated and the whole publication therefore has a much more professional feel to it. A few of the pictures are very low resolution, but Enrico tells me that these were the best images he had available. The general format of the book is similar to the Sinclair book, but there is more original text by Enrico giving the history of the company and describing the products. If you are interested in this aspect of recent technology history, you will enjoy this book. The price may put you off though. For more information or to order visit Enrico's website or email him: enrico (at) brighton-uk.com.


Magazines

BVWS Bulletin

Title: British Vintage Wireless Society Bulletin
Publisher: British Vintage Wireless Society
Website: http://www.bvws.org.uk
Date: Quarterly Magazine
Price: Membership costs 20 per year.

This magazine is the official journal of the BVWS. As well as society news and related items, it contains a number of articles and features dealing with the repair, restoration, collecting and history of vintage radio and related equipment. The publication is superbly presented and contains some beautiful photographs. In addition to the journal, members receive one or two supplements with the Christmas issue, a free sales and wanted adverts flyer with each issue, as well as entry to the various Society events around the country. If you are interested in vintage radio, I highly recommend membership of the BVWS!

The Radiophile

Title: The Radiophile Magazine
Editor: Chas E. Miller
Publisher: The Radiophile
Website:http://www.radiophile.co.uk
Date: Quarterly Magazine
Price: 20 per year (subscription only)

This magazine deals solely with servicing and repairing domestic valve radios. It includes details of recent repair jobs carried out by the Editor, a Receiver Profile, and a number of other servicing and repair articles and series. In addition, there are a few light-hearted moments including Chas's short stories and Late News by Barnaby Hyndsyte. All in all a good read.

Radio Bygones

Title: Radio Bygones Magazine
Publisher: Wimbourne Publishing
Website: http://www.radiobygones.co.uk
Date: Bi-monthly Magazine
Price: 20 per year? (subscription only)

This magazine aims to cover a much wider range of vintage radio equipment than The Radiophile. It tends to concentrate on military and amateur communications equipment, and gives very little coverage to domestic broadcast sets. It is a very well presented glossy publication, but the content does not really interest me. As well as a conventional paper magazine, this publication is also available electronically (in Adobe Acrobat format) for a lower subscription rate. Details on the website.

Airwaves

Title: Airwaves Magazine/Catalogue
Author: Steve Harris
Publisher: On the Air (Email: info (at) vintageradio.co.uk)
Website: http://www.vintageradio.co.uk
Date: Bi-monthly Magazine
Price: 10 per year (subscription only)

Published by "On The Air", Airwaves is part magazine and part catalogue. Even if you do not intend making any purchases, Airwaves contains plenty of interesting articles and information and offers good value for the money.

 

Title: Morsum Magnificat
Editor: Zyg Nilski
Date: Bi-Monthly Magazine
Price: £15 per year (subscription only)

I haven't read this magazine because the subject does not greatly interest me. The following description was taken from the Morsum Magnificat website:

Morsum Magnificat is a bimonthly journal for all Morse enthusiasts, amateur or professional, beginner to veteran. Professional Morse at sea is about to end and Amateur Morse, visualised as the last bastion of Morse operating, is under longer-term threat. MM speaks out for Morse, and nothing else. However, it is not a commercial enterprise and it exists only through the support of individual enthusiasts, taking out subscriptions to the magazine to keep "their journal" alive. If you are concerned about recent developments it is in your own interest to support MM!

I understand that this magazine will be closing in 2004 unless someone can be found to take it over.


Old Books

The Story of Radio

Title: The Story of Radio
Author: Graham Dixey
Publisher: Maplin Electronics
Date: 1990
Price: 1.95

This booklet is a reprint of a seven-part series of articles that originally appeared in "Electronics - The Maplin Magazine". It gives a concise history of the development of radio, and its roles in both war and peace. Related technologies, such as radar and television, are also covered. As expected for an electronics magazine this booklet concentrates on the technical aspects. With just 28 pages it cannot expect to give the most detailed coverage of the subject, but it does give a good general grounding and is excellent value for the money. It is now out of print, but I have seen second-hand copies offered for a few pounds at vintage radio swapmeets. It is also on my Valve Data and General Information CD-ROM.

Mullard Maintenance Manual

Title: Mullard Maintenance Manual
Authors: Mullard Technical Service Department
Publisher: Mullard Ltd
Date: Around 1955 (updating supplements were published until the early 60s)

This book contains data on the full range of Mullard valves likely to be encountered in vintage radio and television equipment. Mullard originally published it for use by those employed in the radio television servicing trade, and regular updating supplements were published until the early sixties. These were printed on pink coloured paper and were attached to the relevant pages on the book. The valve data sheets contain everything the service engineer or restorer is likely to need, and is much more comprehensive than the tables of characteristics that were often published. This useful book is worth looking out for - although copies are now quite scarce and prices could be fairly high. The data from this book is included on my Valve Data CD-ROM.

Radio Valve Data

Title: Radio Valve Data
Authors: Compiled by the staff of "Wireless World"
Publisher: Iliffe Books
Date: 1949 (First Published), 1961 (7th Edition)

This book appears to be more readily available than the Mullard book above. It was first published in 1949, and appears to have been regularly revised and reprinted at least until the early 60s. It includes data on the valves manufactured by all the major British manufacturers as well as sections on American devices. The data consists of a single line of characteristics for each device, as well as pinouts and base diagrams. Although not as comprehensive as manufacturers specific data books, it is much better than nothing! My copy is missing the cover and is in a rather frail state (it was printed on thin paper) so I have had mine photocopied and use this copy rather than the original. The data from this book is included on my Valve Data CD-ROM.

Radio and Television Servicing

Title: Radio and Television Servicing
Author: Various
Publisher: Newnes
Date: 1953 onwards

A new volume of Radio and Television Servicing was published each year, containing circuits and basic servicing information for a wide range of equipment produced during the previous year. There were also a number of reprints and packaged sets, many of which used differing volume numbers, so it can be quite confusing if you are trying to collect a complete series. I tend to look at the date ranges covered, rather than the volume numbers. The earlier sets had a pair of Pre-1953 radio and a single Pre-1953 Television books, whereas later sets started with one or two volumes of Pre-1955 data. Also some earlier volumes sorted the manufacturers alphabetically and some didn't! Despite the confusion these books are worth looking out for if you regularly repair equipment from the late 1940s onwards and do not need such detailed information as that given in the Trader sheets etc. Prices seem to vary somewhat, but generally Individual volumes sell for between 3 and 6 each (depending on condition). There is some data from these books (for sets where no Trader sheets etc. are available) on my Vintage Service Data CD-ROMs.

Modern Practical Radio and Television

Title: Modern Practical Radio and Television
Author: C. A. Quarrington
Publisher: Caxton Publishing Company
Date: 1948

This vintage publication consists of a three-part set of books together with a supplementary book of radio circuits and data (not shown). Despite its age, this series of books give a good grounding in electronics, and in radio and television circuit operation. It tends to concentrate on practical circuit arrangements rather than the theory and maths. The books will be of interest to those with an understanding of modern circuitry as well as those with a more limited electrical knowledge, although beginners may find it rather heavy-going. I have seen copies of these books offered at various vintage radio fairs for around 10 for the set, and would recommend it to those wishing to increase their understanding of valve electronics and radio circuit operation.

Radio Television and Electrical Repairs

Title: Radio Television and Electrical Repairs
Publisher: Oldhams Press
Date: 1956 (3rd Edition)

John Pocklington kindly sent me the following review:

This book was first published in 1948. My edition, the 3rd, 1956, describes itself as a comprehensive and practical guide to the upkeep and repair of modern domestic radio and electrical equipment. While the later chapters deal with domestic appliances, over 300 of its 475 pages are devoted to radio and television. In the foreword the editors claim to be aiming the book at the Ordinary Householder (tho' it seems to me that the OH would hardly be wrestling with harmonics and would long ago have sent for the repair man) and to give to the apprentice and the man in the industry a good grounding in modern methods. The book is fairly lucidly written in the schoolmaster style of the 40s/50s and is profusely illustrated. There is hardly a page without a line drawing of equipment or circuitry and most have two or three. I have found it very useful.

This book is included on my Valve Data and General Information CD-ROM.

Wireless Servicing Manual

Title: Wireless Servicing Manual (Sixth Edition)
Author: W. T. Cocking
Publishers: Wireless World and Iliffe
Date: 1944

Various editions of this pocket-sized hardbacked book turns up regularly at vintage radio swapmeets etc. In its 300 pages it contains a comprehensive description of circuit practices and servicing techniques for equipment of the time. It is quite a heavy-going book, and is not recommended for those who do not already have some knowledge and experience of vintage radio circuits. I would suggest that the "Modern Practical Radio and Television" set of books above is a better choice if you can obtain it, because it is more readable and does not assume as much prior knowledge as this book. However, this "Wireless Servicing Manual" could probably be picked up for two or three pounds, and at this sort of price it is highly recommended.





This website, including all text and images not otherwise credited, is copyright © 1997 - 2006 Paul Stenning.
No part of this website may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from Paul Stenning.
All details are believed to be accurate, but no liability can be accepted for any errors.
The types of equipment discussed on this website may contain high voltages and/or operate at high temperatures.
Appropriate precautions must always be taken to minimise the risk of accidents.

Last updated 14th April 2006.