Q: My mother said she and my father had the first radio in our area, and people came from all over to listen to it. She thought it was about 1919 or 1920. My dad built the radio, then bought a cabinet to put it in. The cabinet has a label that says “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 its original knobs and is in good condition. I’d like to know when it was built and what it’s worth.
A: The first commercial radio broadcast was made when KDKA of Pittsburgh broadcast the results of the presidential race between Warren Harding and James Cox on November 2, 1920. Radio receivers were not widely available at the time. In the 1920s, many people made their own radios by assembling the necessary components and attaching them to a board. By the late 1920s, radios were being manufactured for sale and furniture companies began making cabinets to put them in. Pierson Furniture Co. was founded in 1927. It became Pierson Radio Co. in 1930 and began making radio cabinets. In 1940 the company switched from manufacturing to retail and its name was changed to Pierson Factory Showrooms. Your empty cabinet would sell as used furniture and might bring a few hundred dollars.