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History of the manufacturer  

WLS (tubes), World's Largest Store - see also Sears, Roebuck & Co; Chicago, IL

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Name: WLS (tubes), World's Largest Store - see also Sears, Roebuck & Co; Chicago, IL    (USA)  
Abbreviation: wls-sears
Products: Tube wholesaler

Before the Silvertone brand was used by Sears, they sold tubes under WLS. The WLS tubes were named like the WLS radio station of Sears. Tube Lore gives a list of WLS tubes and there are other lists.

Another Sears Roebuck tube brand is Meteor. These were made by an unknown company for Sears.



Further details for this manufacturer by the members (rmfiorg):

Till the end of 1924, Sears sold RCA tubes. They started to sell WLS tubes in early 1925.tbn_rca_tubes~~1.jpg
The WLS tubes were named after the WLS radio station of Sears, which strarted its transmissions at the end on 1924. WLS means "Worlds Largest Store".tbn_1925_wlstalentad_96.jpg
This list of tubes of WLS, CeCo and van Horne can be found in the book "Tube Lore"by Ludwell Sibley.tbn_tube_lore.jpg
From 1927 Sears catalogtbn_usa_sears_wls_tubes.jpg
Popular Science January 1928tbn_sears_roebuck_ps_1130.png
Popular Science January 1928tbn_wls_advert_1925.jpg
Radio News November 1924tbn_wls_rn_nov_1924.jpg

Forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand
WLS (tubes), World's Largest Store - see also Sears, Roebuck & Co; Chicago, IL
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WLS, World's largest Store (By Sears) Brand of tubes (USA)
Fin Stewart

The Sears Roebuck Company was founded in 1886 by Richard Warren Sears and joined the following year by Alvah Curtis Roebuck. They were watchmakers located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1895, Julius Rosenwald took over the company and moved it to Chicago, Illinois. He greatly expanded the company so that it became a huge general mail order company, with the Chicago head office taking up a whole city block. The company expanded rapidly and early on had branches in Dallas, Philadelphia and Seattle. It became known as "The World's Largest Store".

As early as 1915, Sears Roebuck was marketing Silvertone phonographs. There were thirteen models in the original series, comprising cabinets in four different woods and there were both floor and table types. All were disk machines made by the Crescent Talking Machine Company of 89 Chamber Street, New York City. Page three of the Pittsburgh Express, October 12th, 1919 shows a full page advertisement for these machines but the manufacturers name is not mentioned. Accessories for the machines included needle tins and these came in a least two different color combinations - light and dark blue and green and gold. There was a six page instruction manual available with each phonograph sold in 1919.There was a Silvertone label on each machine and the name was also on the reproducer. In 1926 Sears Roebuck was advertising 25 Silvertone "truephonic" machines. The manufacturer of these is not known. With the introduction of electric record players, the company sold many designs of these over the years to the 1970's.

According to the Sears Roebuck Archives, the company entered into the radio business in the early 1920's, offering a comprehensive range of sets. The Fall 1925 issue of the catalog (page 552) introduced the first advertised radio tubes - eight tubes representing the standard types designed and made in the US at the time. Some of these were made by Cunningham and RCA Radiotron and one was sold under the brand name Meteor (No details of a factory or address has been found for this brand). A few small maufacturers also made tubes for the company and these were branded WLS (World's Largest Store). All these tubes were given a four digit Sears Roebuck type number by the company and, for example, the UV199 made by RCA was known as the 2957. As a new tube was introduced, or improved, it was alotted a new catalog number. There appears to be no sequence of the original catalog numbers and 2964 in the catalog is the WLS UV201A. The 2970 tube (Solartron UV201A - later UX201A) was last listed in the Spring 1929 catalog as the 4601 (see below). Details of the manufacturers address is not known.          

The full range of 29XX series was carried on until the Spring 1928 catalog (page 619) and there were eighteen tubes in the series.

The Fall 1928 catalog (page 671) lists a totally new type number series beginning with 4600 (WLS UX200A and formerly the 2976. This series carried through to the Spring 1929 catalog and covered fourteen including the Emerson "Multivalve" EM3VA - 4613 and the Raytheon BH - 4621. Also in the July 1929, it was announced on page 216 of the Radio Broadcast magazine, in the Radio Dealers Notebook No 5 - "Vacuum Tube Maufacturers", that the company had contracted with Ceco (C.E. Manufaturing Company of 702 Eddy Street, Providence Rhode Island -  Tyne, page 353) for supply of $550,000 worth of tubes

Pages 762 and 763 of the Fall 1929 catalog lists Silvertone tubes for the first time, with a totally new type number series, for example 57T201A  = UX201A. Reseach has not yet provided a manufacturer of these tubes or a location of a  factory.Tyne, page 362 has "no information available". It is presumed that these were made by Sonatron and it is known that Sonatron acquired three smaller companies in 1929, before they, themselves, were acquired by National Union in September 1929 (Tyne, page 359).

Silvertone tubes continued to be available for some years and a photo of two type 230 tubes has been seen which shows both names - Silvertone and Sears Roebuck printed on them. There are labels on both tubes dating 1937

World War Two saw Sears Roebuck marketing Sivertone wind generators and the Silvertone radio antenna with "Stratobeam Reception". The Sears Roebuck achives show that the company "ended its association" wth Silvertone (radios ad or tubes, or both, is uncertain) in 1972.

WLS (tubes), World's Largest Store - see also Sears, Roebuck & Co; Chicago, IL
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