Sparton 566 "Bluebird"
The Sparton Model 566 radio was also nicknamed the "Bluebird". Designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, it has become a highly prized item among both Art Deco and antique radio collectors. Like other Teague designs, its primary allure was the design rather than the performance. Performance was average at best with a compact 5 tube transformerless design and small speaker. Tuning covers AM Broadcast and shortwave on two bands. Band switching is accomplished using a push/pull switch on the back of the radio. Three control knobs on the front are On-Off/Volume, Tone and Tuning. It was originally offered with an optional mirror to act as a platform or "Plateau".
The Bluebird was released in September of 1935 for the 1936 model year along with the Nocturne but it seems to have become confused with the model 506 which is actually a wooden radio using basically the same chassis released earlier in 1935 but still part of the 1936 lineup. The Bluebird was always the model 566. A more elaborate explanation of this proclamation can be found on the Model 506 page.
A Canadian model, the 154 was virtually identical in design from the front but employed a different chassis using a transformer. The model number 566 or 154 was followed by a B (Blue) or C (Old Rose).
This set came to me partially restored. I cleaned the chassis thoroughly and replaced several capacitors missed in the first restoration and the set plays nicely. There are a few scratches on the glass but no silvering issues. This set originally came with a "curtain burner" resistive line cord but that has been replaced with a modern polarized plug and the set circuitry modified to accept the new cord. This model came with a partial back across the bottom that is missing on this set.
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The popularity and Art-Deco design of the Bluebird has spawned a couple of very attractive reproduction models which may ultimately become collectibles in their own right. Shown above, a Thomas repro, the original Bluebird and a Crosley repro. The reproductions are both solid state (no tubes) AM/FM radios with cassette tape players and have chrome colored plastic feet rather than the black wooden feet on my original.
It's funny how often while searching for answers you come up with more questions. The ad shown below from The Racine Journal-Times December 22, 1935 states "The mirror rests upon two silver ball supports". The reproduction models have chrome ball mirror supports but every original Bluebird I have ever seen had only black painted ball mirror supports. Did the original actually have a chromed or silver cover that came off or were the supports originally painted silver? I have only found black and white ads from the time period and like the picture in the ad below, they shine but I cannot tell if they were a somewhat glossy black or silver. Then the bottom ad states "blue glass circle of 16 inch diameter mounted on a low base of ebony finish". This says Ebony, not silver and the mirror is not 16 inches in diameter, it is 14.25 inches. Confusion about the Bluebird began with incorrect advertising even while it was a current model. This probably explains why the repros have chrome ball feet and the Thomas repro is 16 inches in diameter. Until I find evidence of such other than advertising without clear pictures, I'm inclined to discount the "silver ball supports".
Sparton Bluebird Schematic and service documentation