Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The 1938 Radio Nurse

(Above) The 1938 Radio Nurse “parental listening device” was designed to look a bit intimidating to children, so that they would not mess with it. It was supposed to have a human head-like look. Click image for larger view.

(Above) “Design by Noguchi” is clear on the back panel.

(Above) Radio Nurse logo.

(Above) This is the design that Noguchi designed to be in the baby’s room. He wanted this device to be plain and uninteresting in order to not catch the child’s attention. On the flip side of that, he designed the master unit to look intimidating, I think, like a Ninja face. Click for larger view.

(Above) A look at the inside.
(Above) The “art deco design” of this piece is just over the top in the cool department. Click image for larger view.

(Above) “Hello-ooo? Hello-ooo? I need my heart medicine. Is anyone there?”
Click image for larger view.

(Above) Publicity photo for the Radio Nurse. Click image for larger view.

Click image for larger view.

(Above) Check out the cool 1930s toys next to the crib, especially the Donald Duck toy. Click image for larger view.

(Above) “Oh for Pete’s sake! Your grandmother is calling for her heart medicine again Marge. This date is a disaster!” “Oh George dear, we can just turn it off!”
Click image for larger view.

“RADIO NURSE” WAS THE PRECURSOR TO THE VERY COMMON BABY MONITORS available to parents today. This Art-Deco item was made by the Zenith Radio Corporation in 1937 in response to the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. I was able to find more information on this device at this site: Click Here.

“The complete system consisted of a receiver, the Radio Nurse, and the transmitter, the Guardian Ear.

Zenith commissioned the Japanese-American artist and designer, Isamu Noguchi, to design the receiver unit. The result was this stylized human nurse's head molded in brown Bakelite. Noguchi explored the notion of the interchangeability of biological and machine forms, and the role of everyday objects as sculpture. The Radio Nurse is quite typical of his work.

Sadly, many of these unique devices were trashed following Pearl Harbor because of the Japanese name on the case. That is why they are so rare today. Noguchi, in fact, was a U.S. citizen, born in Los Angeles in 1904, though he lived in Japan from 1907 through 1923. His mother was American.

These units are rare and in great demand by collectors of 20th Century art.


Maureen said...

I have a couple Noguchi lamps, the pod shaped one is my favorite, Also like the Scotty Dog lamp above the Donald Duck toy too. Very cute.

j. Winkel said...

An outstanding post, John.

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