Dancing Sam

An article in a recent issue of the British Vintage Wireless Society's Bulletin caught my attention: it tells of a toy made by the National Radio Manufacturing Company in the early 30's, The author, David Read, found one of these rare objects in London and after much research and restoration, came up with a work- ing model. He exhibited it at the '87 Herpenden Meet where it aroused much attention. Now here is my story.

Two year's ago, when I visited James Millen ( now deceased), he offered me one of these toys. He was former General Manager and Chief Engneer of the National Company and played a part in the toy's development. He was going to throw it away since he didn't regard the toy very highly. After all, he was the designer of the HRO and other high quality radio products!

He said. "Bruce. if you want it, be sure and take Sam (a wooden, loosely jointed doll) and especially the microphone (this latter appeared to be a very inexpensive object.) You will need it"

I placed the metal box, doll and microphone in a cardboard box, brought them back to Holcomb and placed them on a shelf, where they were forgotten until I read David's article.

Briefly. "Dancing Sam" was a toy marketed in 1932. Sam was suspended by a spring with his feet dangling on a speaker diaphragm. By speaking or making a sound such as music in the microphone, the speaker diaphragm (bounc- ing floor) would vibrate which in turn made Sam dance.

According to Read. the key to the toy's operation is the microphone which Jim gave me - and which I was going to discard! The microphone reacts only two ways: either there was no continuity (off) or a completed circuit (on).

As Dave had done. I cleaned the contacts and placed four new "D" flashlight cells in the metal box to actuate the relay and speaker ... and it worked! You may have seen it at the recent AWA Conference.

-- Bruce Kelly

Reprinted from November 1987 AWA OTB with additional photo

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