Another Fine Mid-Century Find…

May 17, 2013   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty   //  By: Emily   //  9 responses

It’s always pretty impressive to look back into a company’s history and find that not only are they leaders in the LED light bulb category as much as they’re leading in the men’s grooming and dental hygiene domains, but that they also have a rich past and present in something as seemingly obscure as home audio with roots dating back to the early days of television.

All of this I learned after stumbling upon this beauty awaiting its fate on trash day. (Further evidence that there is always a big dog pacing around in my 5-foot radius.)

Vintage Norelco Speaker - A freebie find!

A little research–made easy by the fact that I knew it was a speaker and it read Norelco in the upper right front of the unit–helped me determine that it’s the Rembrandt Norelco ‘Exhibition’ Speaker Enclosure in blond, developed and Guild-crafted by Philips of the Netherlands. T-7 Loudspeakers, too. Pretty badass, right? Check out this product ad that I found online:

Norelco Exhibition Speaker, Vintage Print Ad

Based on the file name of the image, I’m led to believe this was a new product release in the year 1959, and I’m so pleased to have found it because, hello, it’s going to look delightful in our new home.

So, here I was, lugging the f-r-e-e curbed speaker into the back of my car in a Rochester suburb, squealing in glee that the robust scent of basement that it eminated might mean that it actually stood a chance of working or being repaired within reason, and settled in knowing that if nothing else, it’s cute little legs would be great to repurpose on a different piece of furniture. Really, so perfect for our new to-be 50’s ranch.

It's too sexy for it's legs.

Its backside, I knew would need to be replaced as it left a trail of debris along the backseat of the Subaru, but since it needed to be removed anyways for exploratory measures, I knew it wouldn’t be a problem to replace it with a piece of luan.

Backside of the found speaker surround.

With a prybar, I loosened the barely attached back panel to reveal… nothing.

Whomp-whomp. No speaker to speak of.

So, the entire interior has been vacated, with the exception of a random box component that had been rolling freely with nails popping out of it while I drove backroads through our neighborhood (luckily, didn’t puncture the screen). We’re pretty stoked.

I cleaned the existing insulation and dust out of the unit and am left with a solid hardwood mid-century vintage shell of a speaker, not so bad, and it’s cool enough of an encasement to make us wonder if we can fit it with a new speaker (techies out there, advise away!). If not, we should use it as a place in the new house to store electronics, like the DVR, Wii box, and wireless-related gadgets.

Cleaned out speaker surround. Can it be replaced with a new audio system?

Any awesome salvaged finds on your own hands lately?

  • Annabel Vita
    5 years ago - Reply

    That’s so awesome! I love the idea of using it for a wireless speaker!

  • Brenda
    5 years ago - Reply

    I think you could totally fit that with a new speaker, in fact, its probably a blessing that the electronics are gone in that you may have run into an incompatibility issue between the connections of the old with the new of whatever you decide to hook it up to. Then again, with the addition of a shelf inside, it might make a smart little bedside or porch table!

    Speaking of salvage, hubby and I are in the process of switching out the old spruce panelling on our workshop/shed which has become chipped and a bit rotten at the ends. The majority of each of panels is still solid and so I am thinking of using them to create a lean-to shed for my garden tools.

  • Martina
    5 years ago - Reply

    Yes, you can absolutely retro-fit this awesome MCM speaker house. Modern speakers come in such a wide range of sizes I would be very surprised if you weeny able to find something that suited your needs. A friend’s dad used to refurbish+retrofit vintage speakers all the time and they always sounded great.

    It’s funny you posted this, last weekend we were considering buying a 1920’s gramophone case to retrofit into a speaker/record player combo, but sadly the legs were just too damaged to make it worth the cost (over $100).

    Good luck, can’t wait to see how this turns out once you give it a little love. :)

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Thanks for the encouragement Martina! A gramophone would be so cool, too bad that it wasn’t in better shape!

  • Harper
    5 years ago - Reply

    Having gotten my start at life in Rochester, I’m familiar with all of the awesome curbside founds in that city. My father has scored many solid wood dressers, chests, cabinets, etc. that he refinished into true beauties. The treasures that can be found on the streets the night before garbage pick-up. This speaker looks like another one. Great find!

  • Lars
    5 years ago - Reply

    You could try asking at the audiokarma vintage hifi forum…

  • Maarten
    4 years ago - Reply

    A bit late reply maybe…. But you could just drop a whole Sonos Play:3 or Play:5 in there. Then you have an awesome vintage looking speaker with the benefits of modern technique.

  • Jeff
    2 years ago - Reply

    So what did ya do with this? Love to know if us used it as a speaker cab, that kind of thing is in my wheel house.

    • Pete
      2 years ago -

      Wouldn’t you know, we have a friend who has all the supplies and is ready to turn it into a speaker for us. I was supposed to drop it off to him last weekend! When it’s done, I’ll do a recap!

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