Q: My mother said she and my father owned the first radio in our area, and people came from all over to listen to it. My dad built the radio in about 1920, then bought a cabinet to put it in. The cabinet is labeled “American Beauty Radio Cabinets & Console Speakers, Mfg. by Pierson Co., Rockford, Ill.” The radio was disposed of long ago, but we still have the cabinet. It has all of its original knobs and is in good condition. I would like to know when it was built and what it’s worth.
A: The first commercial radio broadcast was made when KDKA broadcast the results of the U.S. presidential race between Warren Harding and James Cox on Nov. 2, 1920. Radio receivers were not widely available at the time. In the early 1920s, many people assembled their own radios by putting the components together and attaching them to a board. By the late 1920s, furniture companies began making cabinets to hold radios. Pierson Furniture Co. was founded in 1927. It became Pierson Radio Co. in 1930, the same year it started making cabinets for radios. In 1940 the company changed from manufacturing to retail, and its name became Pierson Factory Showrooms. Your empty cabinet, made between 1930 and 1940, would sell as a piece of used furniture. It might bring a few hundred dollars.