S.S. Kresge Company
S.S. Kresge Company, Detroit, Michigan, USA
SS Kresge operated a dozen or more stores by the mid 1920's.
Last seen: 31-Dec-1933
Brand(s): Commander, Ritetone,
S.S. Kresge first sold radio tubes in Oct 1924, branding their own tubes about March of 1925, with their 'Ritetone' brand. Given the timing, I would expect the earliest of these to be brass based, though without an evacuation tip. They would have quickly switched to bakelite, as they were an OEM, and so received what the factory was producing. Early ads offer both types.
In 1926, Kresge sold mostly Volutron tubes, advertising also for Hy-Vac for one sale.
Just before Christmas, 1927, S.S. Kresge introduced the 'Van Dyke' brand. Van Dyke tubes were surplus by 1932. There are several variations of Van Dyke labels and boxes.
Commander appears for Christmas of 1930, with evidence pointing to it being a brand created for S.S. Kresge Supply Co. Additionally, there is annecdotal evidence that Commander tubes were made by CeCo Manufacturing. Hoards of 226, 227 era commander boxes were photographed, all populated with CeCo tubes. The 'correct' boxes for Commander 201-A tubes will, in fact, be ink stamped on the box top "201-A".
Without tube examples it's unclear to me if there were variants with base or envelope labels, or engravings.SS Kresge may have based their store brand on OEM contract periods, elluding to a 1yr period after which no more were made, a new brand and new manufacturer was sourced, or contract renegotiated, and away they went with a new brand, while the prior brand remained until sold. With a wide distribution chain, and many stores, this seems reasonable.
Van Dyke variants:
Van Dyke's change to the swoop label can be seen in the 1931 advertising.
Van Dyke may have been the most successful of Kresge's brands.
- Radio Retailing, Jun-1929, pg. 267. From AmericanRadioHistory.com. Retrieved 30-Nov-2018. !
- Radio Broadcast, Dec-1929, pg. 123. From AmericanRadioHistory.com. Retrieved 30-Nov-2018. !