Improper Prop!

Veering slightly off the subject of the CRT and onto its cousin, the illustrious Magic Eye tube – it’s been a couple years since I wrote about the fortuitous visit to Robbie’s Place, where I picked up a beautiful Westminster ZA 617.

Not a CRT, but it’s lesser cousin – a soothing Y63 magic eye valve

Recently I was watching an episode of the British-Irish crime drama Quirke. Imagine my surprise when I spotted a ZA 617 in one of the scenes!

The fascinating thing was that this particular scene was set in a convent in the United States. But this radio was likely never sold in America! First and foremost, the radio doesn’t support 120V operation. Second, the dial markings, barely visible in the blurry close-up, reflect European radio station frequencies of of the time. Also, Long Wave was not particularly popular for public transmissions in the U.S. (as far as I know).

While it’s a clear case of an improper prop, the BBC had exceedingly good taste to choose this beautiful radio for the show. Long live magic eyes!

Robbie’s Place

What do you do on a mundane business trip to London?

Why, shopping, of course! But if you were the humble proprietor of, you would do much more than that… You would seek to expand your vintage electronic empire!

And so it was that I found myself hunting old electronic devices on Portobello Road one fine Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the game there was far and few between; only two relatively mediocre valve radios, in even more mediocre shape, at far more than mediocre prices…

Fortunately, my colleague was going to save the day. “Pop out to Cambridge for a visit – I’ve seen a few antique shops here,” said he. And after the hour train journey and a wee but of walking, we stumbled onto a veritable gold mine – Robbie’s.

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