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Montgomery Ward & Co. (Wards, Airline); Chicago, IL

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Name: Montgomery Ward & Co. (Wards, Airline); Chicago, IL    (USA)  
Airline or Air-Line
Abbreviation: montgomery
Products: Model types Others

Montgomery Ward & Co. (Wards)
619 Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

For tubes with the brand Airline or Super-Airline, see Airline (tubes).
And Trail Blazer

Trade names: Airline, Balbao, Cavalier, Challenger, Collegian, Commander, Commodore, Coronado, Cortez, Dictator, Fantasy, Minstrel, Princess, Serenader, Solo, Sovereign and others.

Founded: 1872
Closed: 2001

Wikipedia (10 Nov 2009): Montgomery Ward (later known as Wards) is an online retailer that carries the same name as the former American department store chain, founded as the world's first mail order business in 1872 by Aaron Montgomery Ward, and which went out of business in 2001. At its height, it was one of the largest retailers in the United States, but declining sales in the late 20th century forced the original Montgomery Ward to close all of its retail stores and catalog operations by early 2001. After a near four year absence, the Montgomery Ward brand was revived as an online and catalog-based retailer headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in late 2004, when Direct Marketing Services Inc. purchased much of the intellectual property assets of the former Wards, reviving the brand as an online retailer with no physical stores. In 2008, ownership changed over to Swiss Colony in Monroe, Wisconsin.


Ward had conceived of the revolutionary idea of a dry goods mail-order business in Chicago, Illinois, after several years of working as a traveling salesman among rural customers. He observed that rural customers often wanted "city" goods but were often victimized by monopolists who offered no guarantee of quality. Ward also believed that by eliminating intermediaries, he could cut costs and make a wide variety of goods available to rural customers, who could purchase goods by mail and pick them up at the nearest train station. After several false starts, including the destruction of his first inventory by the Great Chicago Fire, Ward started his business at his first offices at the corner of North Clark and Kedzie streets, with two partners and using $1,600 they had raised in capital. The first catalog in August 1872 consisted of an 8 by 12 in. single-sheet price list, showing 163 articles for sale with ordering instructions. Ward himself wrote the first catalog copy. His two partners left the following year, but he continued the struggling business and was joined by his future brother-in-law Richard Thorne. In the first few years, the business was not well received by rural retailers, who considered Ward a threat and sometimes publicly burned his catalog. Despite the opposition, however, the business grew at a fast pace over the next several decades, fueled by demand primarily from rural customers who were attracted by the wide selection of items unavailable to them locally. Customers were also attracted by the innovative and unprecedented company policy of "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back", which Ward began using in 1875. Although Ward turned the copy writing over to department heads, he continued poring over every detail in the catalog for accuracy. Ward himself became widely popular among residents of Chicago, championing the causes of the common folk over the wealthy, most notably in his successful fight to establish parkland along Lake Michigan. The last Montgomery Ward logo before the switch to Wards. This was used from 1892-1997. In 1883, the company's catalog, which became popularly known as the "Wish Book", had grown to 240 pages and 10,000 items. In 1896, Wards acquired its first serious competition in the mail order business, when Richard Warren Sears introduced his first general catalog. In 1900, Wards had total sales of $8.7 million, compared to $10 million for Sears, Roebuck and Co., and the two companies were to struggle for dominance for much of the 20th century. By 1904, the company had grown such that three million catalogs, weighing 4 pounds each, were mailed to customers.

In 1908, the company opened a 1.25 million ft² (116,000 m²) building stretching along nearly 1/4 mile of the Chicago River, north of downtown Chicago. The building, known as the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalog House, served as the company headquarters until 1974, when the offices moved across the street to a new tower designed by Minoru Yamasaki. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and a Chicago historic landmark in May 2000. In the decades before 1930, Montgomery Ward built a network of large distributions centers across the country in Baltimore, Fort Worth, Kansas City, St. Paul, Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California. In most cases, these reinforced concrete structures were the largest industrial structures in their respective locations. The Baltimore Montgomery Ward Warehouse and Retail Store was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Ward died in 1913, after 41 years running the catalog business. The company president, William C. Thorne (eldest son of the co-founder) died in 1917, and was succeeded by Robert J. Thorne. Robert Thorne retired in 1920 due to ill health.


The November 1921 Montgomery Ward general catalog lists radios which were made by the Klitzen Radio Manufacturing Company. Their radio circuits were licensed under the Armstrong Regenerative Circuit patent. These radios were also advertised in the 1922 catalog. "Radio News" for November 1921 carried a full two page advertisement for radios and components made by Klitzen but sold by Montgomery Ward. The illustrations show a wide variety of complete sets and parts ranging from spark gaps to coils to wire and much more. It appears that the Westinghouse Electric Company was able to sue Klitzen in August 1923 for breach of license agreement and radio production ceased at this time.(The Radio Collectors Guide 1921 - 1932 lists two radios made by Klitzen in 1924 and 1925). In October 1922, Montgomery Ward was advertising radios made by the Tri City Radio Electric Supply Company (TRESCO) and it is apparent that this company was using the Airline trade mark, with a lightning bolt through the word Airline on sets sold by Wards as early as July 1923. Several models were advertised and ranged from one to three.tubes. The book Radio Collectors Guide 1921 - 1932 lists three radios apparently made by Montgomery Ward but lacks any detail of model names or other information.

In 1926, the company broke with its mail-order-only tradition when it opened its first retail outlet store in Plymouth, Indiana. It continued to operate its catalog business while pursuing an aggressive campaign to build retail outlets in the late-1920s. In 1928, two years after opening its first outlet, it had opened 244 stores. By 1929, it had more than doubled its number of outlets to 531. Its flagship retail store in Chicago was located on Michigan Avenue between Madison and Washington streets. In 1930, the company turned down a merger offer from rival Sears. In 1939, as part of a Christmas promotional campaign, staff copywriter Robert L. May created the character and illustrated poem of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Six million copies of the storybook were distributed in 1946. The song was popularized by Gene Autry. Vacant Montgomery Ward store, Augusta, GA Vacant Montgomery Ward Store in Huntington Beach, California After World War II, Montgomery Ward had become the third-largest department store chain. In 1946, the Grolier Club, a society of bibliophiles in New York City, exhibited the Wards catalog alongside Webster's dictionary as one of 100 American books chosen for their influence on life and culture of the people. The brand name of the store became embedded in the popular American consciousness and was often called by the nickname "Monkey Wards," both affectionately and derisively. [edit] Downfall In the 1950s, the company was slow to respond to general movement of the American middle class to suburbia. While its old rivals Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy's, McRae's, and Dillard's established new anchor outlets in the growing number of suburban shopping malls, the top executives thought such moves as too expensive, sticking to their downtown and main street stores until the company had lost too much market share to compete with its rivals. Its catalog business had begun to slip by the 1960s. In 1968, it merged with Container Corporation of America to become Marcor Inc. During the 1970s, the company continued to flounder. In 1976, it was acquired by Mobil Oil, which was flush with cash from the recent rise in oil prices. In 1985, the company closed its catalog business after 113 years and began an aggressive policy of renovation of the remaining stores. The renovations centered on restructuring many of the store layouts into boutique-like speciality stores. In 1988, the company management undertook a successful $3.8 billion leveraged buyout, making Montgomery Ward a privately held company. The exterior of a typical Jefferson Ward discount department store, which opened 1980-82 In 1987, it began a push into consumer electronics using the "Electric Avenue" name. Montgomery Ward greatly expanded their electronics presence by shifting from a predominantly private label mix to an assortment dominated by Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, Panasonic, JVC, and other national brands. This strategy was led by V.P. Vic Sholis, who later became President of the Tandy Name Brand Retail Group. (McDuff, VideoConcepts, and Incredible Universe) Seemingly on the right track for a rebound in marketshare, in the late 1980s and early 1990s Montgomery Ward was one of the hottest retail chains in the country. 1994 brought a 94% increase in revenues, largely due to Ward's tremendously successful direct-marketing arms. For a short while Wards was also back in the mail-order business, through "Montgomery Ward Direct", a mail order business licensed to the catalog giant Fingerhut. But by the mid 1990s sales margins were eroded even further in the competitive electronics and appliance hardlines, which traditionally were Ward's strongest lines.

Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
USA  39 Airline 93BR-420B Series B 12SA7  Airline is the brand of Montgomery Ward. Please never use Airline as a search term for fin... 
USA  34/35 Airline 62-149 32  Bandfilter input circuits. Push-pull audio amplifier.  According to Rider's Ch... 
USA  34/35 Airline 62-153 Order= 662 C 153 34  Broadcast Band: 530 - 1730 kHz Shortwave Band: 5.8 - 16.0 MHz. Push-pull audio amplifie... 
USA  34/35 Airline 62-155 Order= 662 C 155 32  Bandfilter input circuits. Push-pull audio amplifier. 6 or 8 inch speaker. According to... 
USA  36 62-160 32  According to Riders, volume 7 - changes 7-2 "Airline models ...62-160... These Mongomery W... 
USA  35 62-162 32  Bandfilter input circuits. Push-pull audio amplifier. 6 or 8 inch magnetic speaker. 
USA  35 Airline 62-165 Order= 162 C 165 6D6  BC (530-1740 kHz) and SW (5.8-18.3 MHz) bands. Push-pull audio amplifier. Iaw Rider'... 
USA  35 Airline 62-166 6D6  Built-in vibrator for B+ 
USA  39 62-362 Order= P462 B 362 Issue B 6A8G  Except for changes in schematic (see schematic connected to this model) identical to initi... 
USA  40/41 Airline 04BR-1105A Order= 162 B 1105 6SK7  BC (540-1600 kHz), SW1 (5.9-6.1 MHz), SW2 (9.1-10.0 MHz), SW3 (11.4-12.1 MHz) and SW4 (14.... 
USA  40/41 Airline 04BR-1106A Order= 162 B 1106 6SK7  BC (540-1600 kHz), SW1 (5.9-6.1 MHz), SW2 (9.1-10.0 MHz), SW3 (11.4-12.1 MHz) and SW4 (... 
USA  40 04BR-389T 6SA7  BC (540-1730 kHz), SW1 (2.2-7.0 MHz) and SW2 (6.6-23.0 MHz) bands. 


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

Cover page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_catalogtitle1922.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_1.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_2.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_3.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_4.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_5.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_6.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_7.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_8.jpg
Content page of Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog from 1922.tbn_montgomeryward_offer_1922_9.jpg
Montgomery Ward record label. Mentioning "electrically recorded" is anachronism for the year 1938 (electric recording was introduced in 1925)tbn_us_mw_m7548b_b7786b_1938.jpg
Advertise 1927tbn_usa_montgomeryward_advertise_1927.jpg
Scanned from the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue Spring and Summer 1934 page 212.tbn_montgomeryward_ss_1934_p212.jpg
Scanned from the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue Fall and Winter 1934/35 page 317.tbn_montgomeryward_fw_1934_35_p317.jpg
Scanned from the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue Spring and Summer 1935 page 263.tbn_montgomeryward_1935_p263.jpg
Scanned from the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue Spring and Summer 1938 page 460.tbn_montgomeryward_1938_ss_p460.jpg
Popular Mechanics January 1925tbn_montgomery_ward_pop_mec_125.png

Forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand
Montgomery Ward & Co. (Wards, Airline); Chicago, IL
Threads: 2 | Posts: 6
Hits: 4167     Replies: 3
Help with ID of airline PA Amp
Walter (Mike) Meek

I have an Airline PA Amplifier which my grandfather purchased new and used in his band. I believe it is of late 30's vintage, but I have not found an ID plate, model number, or serial number. It is mounted in a wooden travel case which also serves as the speaker cabinet and accessory storage. I also have an Airline ribbon microphone which matches the amplifier finish (Factory Finish).

The emblem has the Wards Airline graphic along with the words Technical Apparatus. The amp has 2 Mics and a Phono input, It allows up to 4 speakers and a 70V line output.

I have attached a small picture of the amp. My search of the web today only turned up this:


've found an old wards PA..... looks to be in very good shape....all original
a large suitcase that comes apart to form the speakers
cat no. H4225 ..... 12" cinaudagraph speakers with the stamps
FB 12-11........ 2349.......62-2462....... any guesses as to date?


but no pics to compare with.   I would line to include this in my collection, but can't supply the details to set up a new model. Any help will be appreciated.    Mike Meek


Michael Watterson

You can use the form on home page to request a new model if the model really doesn't exist yet!

Here is a 1949 Mongomery Ward Airline Amp

Measure it.

Weigh it on bathroom scales.

Take off cover and list tubes used. See does tube list

match this model with no photo

Airline 74GSG-8400A
Material Metal case
Shape Tablemodel, with any shape - general.
Dimensions (WHD)  
Notes 5 (input) Channel Push - Pull Audio Amplifier. No built-in speaker

Tubes 14: 6SQ7 6SQ7 6SQ7 6SQ7 6SL7GT 6J5 6V6GT 6V6GT 6V6GT 6V6GT 6V6GT 6V6GT 5Z4 5Z4


Photograph you did at 933 wide can be uploaded when Model created. Photograph straight each panel with connectors and the chassis with cover off and bottom plate off.

It might not be a Montgomery, but they were very fond of the "airline" name so if it's not the 74GSG-8400A (it sounds like it has 2 more inputs...) we can create an unidentified Airline.

But it may be you will now spot a model number under cover. Or unobtrusively someplace.






Walter (Mike) Meek

Hello, M. Watterson I did look at your suggestions but neither fits my machine.  I am sure it is a Montgomery Ward, as items like this could only be obtained through mail order in our small rural town.  I will bet my amp is a generation older than the 1949 model.

I intended to put the tube lineup in my original post, so here it is now:  2 - 6J7  4 - 6c5  2 - 6L6 and a 5U4 rectifier. I have attached three additional pic which may help with the ID. I didn't know how much to include in my original post.  

I have searched both the amp, and the speaker case for ID info, but nothing has been found. The speaker has been removed and is missing, so if a tag was attached there about it is gone now.

The physical size is 17 X 11 X 9 inches. That includes knobs and other poky-outy things for the amplifier itself. It's weight is around 25 LBs. I didn't measure the overall Speaker/Travel case. Should that be included in the pics? 

I have created several new models so far, but I had the detail to include on the form. I am not clear about how to do that with all the unknowns that we have here.

Thanks for your quick response.  M. Meek


Michael Watterson

The large metal can capacitors or condensors often have dates. Sometimes two digit year and two digit week.

Fill in the Model form with as much info as you have and put link to this thread in the Note to Administrator.

The Model Administrator can decide what to do. Maybe they will create a Montgomary Ward Airline Amp "unknown" model. Or not.

It looks in lovely condition and a good Amp.

Perhaps the travel case is an integral part. Certainly if a Model is created photos of it too should be uploaded. Perhaps the Model plate was on that originally.




Hits: 3950     Replies: 1
Model Name versus Model Number
Robin Roeckers

I have been asked to aquire information to fill out the 1947 section of the Montomery Ward section of RMorg.  It is not consistant.

It appears that the Model Number is in the Model Name section and sometimes the Model Name is in the Model Number section.

If I know for a fact a model is an Airline, should I suggest a change to switch the Model Number from the Model Name section to achieve a uniform listing?

Götz Linss † 27.06.21

Hi Robin,

great to see you picking up that monster Mont-Ward from the high end. We use this scheme: Given Airline 94-xxx as an example, you should put Airline to Model-Name and the 94-xxx to Model-Type/Chassis. If there is no "name" like Airline, just put the 94-xxx (or whatever it may be) to Model-Name and leave the Type/Chassis entry empty. If there is already an entry like 94-xxx for Type/Chassis and nothing under Model-Name please put that number to Name and remove it from Type/Chassis by using ALT-0160 on the numerical key entry.

Greetings Götz Linß, DJ3IW

Montgomery Ward & Co. (Wards, Airline); Chicago, IL
End of forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand