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Sears Roebuck & Co.

F6505 Sears, Roebuck & Co., Chicago, Illinois, USA


First seen: aft 1925
Last seen:

Brand(s): WLS, Defender

Sears was on the scene with Radio products as early as any catalog company, however, they only carried RCA and Cunningham in the 1923 Sears Radio Catalog. It was after Xmas 1924 that they entered into the Radio Tube OEM business. As 'the World's Largest Store', it was no surprise that the first brand was WLS.




Originally I believed that the tall, engraved bases pre-dated the short base versions with labels, but evidence may suggest that rather than a 'before & after' scenario, these variants were made under contract by different manufacturers, and may have existed together on some store shelves.

If Sears issued their 201a equivalents in sequential order, it is thought that Sears would stop selling '2964' tubes when they offered "2976" and again when offering "4600" tubes.

When we look at existing variants, we see engraved examples of all makes, BUT we see unengraved examples - the ones with the nice black/cream WLS stickers on the envelope - for the "2976" model.

To the author, this suggests that Sears may have originally intended each model number to represent a big contract for 201A tubes branded WLS...which worked out ok up until the 2976 where they ran out of tubes?

I can imagine stock becoming low, and either a manufacturer offered a stickered version, or Sears stickered the tubes themselves.

For our purposes, engraved are earlier variants, suggesting the sticker versions are actually more scarce.  



WLS brand variants:

S
E
A
R
S
WLS 2964
1
Tube
{v1} Globe (s-14), "WLS 2964", tall engraved bakelite UX base

S
E
A
R
S
WLS 2976
2
Tube
{v2} Globe (s-14), "WLS 2976", tall engraved bakelite UX base, no envelope label

WLS 2976 variant 2
WLS 2976 variant
WLS 2796 var2 engraving detail
WLS 2796 var2 base detail 2
 
WLS 2796 var2 base symbol
Unidentified Mfg symbol
WLS 2796 var2 base from below
{v2} "WLS" "2796" with engraved base

S
E
A
R
S
WLS 2976
3
Tube
{v3} Globe (s-14), "WLS 2976", short unmarked bakelite UX base, envelope label

WLS 2976 variant 3
WLS 2976 variant
WLS 2976 var3 sticker
WLS 2976 var3 stem detail
WLS 2976 var3 base
WLS 2976 var3 base detail 2
 
{v3} "WLS" "2796" with envelope label.

S
E
A
R
S
WLS 4600
4
Tube
{v4} Globe (s-14), "WLS 4600", tall engraved bakelite UX base, no envelope label







Sears Defender variants:

   At some point before September 1930, Sears began selling an additional line of branded tubes. The 'Defender' brand would still carry the WLS that customers were used to seeing but were not 'WLS' brand tubes, they were from the Worlds Largest Store. Regardless of the branding, Defender tubes were a low cost offering in a market that was already racing toward zero. Toward the middle of the 1930's, 201A tubes could be had for 50 cents or less.

Defender variants include an engraved base version, marked 'X-501', another has an unmarked base. The former used a small defender label, so I assume that the engraved version was first, and the second version was improved with a larger label, and the confusing engraving number dropped.


Both clearly use very lightweight bases that must have been the cheapest available.


 

S
E
A
R
S
WLS 6505
5
Tube
{v5} Globe (s-14), "Defender", "6505", tall engraved bakelite UX base, small brown envelope label

Defender 6505 var5
Defender 6505 var5

 
{v5} "Defender" "6506" with small envelope label.

S
E
A
R
S
WLS 6505
6
Tube
{v6} Globe (s-14), "Defender", "6505", "X-501", tall engraved bakelite UX base, large tan envelope label

Defender 6505
Defender 6505 variant
Defender plate detail 
Defender 6505 stem detail 
Defender 6505 base detail
Defender 6505 base detail 2 
 
{v6} "Defender" "6506" with large envelope label.




WLS variant boxes


S
E
A
R
S
WLS 2976
1
Box
{v1} WLS 2976 Box, with printed catalog number

WLS 2976 box front
 
 
 
 
"WLS" "2796" box with printed catalog no.











S
E
A
R
S
WLS 4600
1
Box
{v1} WLS 4600 Box, with hand stamped catalog number

WLS 4600 Box - front view
WLS 4600 box front
WLS 4600 Box side view
Sides and back are duplicated
WLS 4600 Box top view
Top and bottom flaps duplicated
"WLS" "4600" with stamped catalog no.














Chicago Tribune, 15-Nov-1925, pg. 56[1]

Bibliography references:
  1. Radio Retailing, Jun-1929, pg. 267. From AmericanRadioHistory.com. Retrieved 30-Nov-2018. !
  2. Radio Broadcast, Dec-1929, pg. 123. From AmericanRadioHistory.com. Retrieved 30-Nov-2018. !




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