Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • SHOP
  • Appraisals

    Isamu Noguchi Radio Nurse, ca. 1937

    Appraised Value:

    $2,000 - $2,500

    Appraised on: August 9, 2003

    Appraised in: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Appraised by: Gary Piattoni

    Category: Science & Technology

    Episode Info: Oklahoma City, Hour 3 (#809)

    Originally Aired: March 1, 2004

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 1  

    More Like This:

    Form: Appliance
    Material: Bakelite
    Period / Style: 20th Century
    Value Range: $2,000 - $2,500

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (2:09)


    Appraised By:

    Gary Piattoni
    Arms & Militaria, Science & Technology
    Gary Piattoni, Inc.

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: I got this from an auction in Kansas.

    APPRAISER: How long ago was that?

    GUEST: About ten years ago.

    APPRAISER: Ten years ago. Well, it's called Radio Nurse. It was produced by Zenith, and it dates from around 1937. It is actually kind of an early baby monitor. It sprang up out of the fear that was generated after the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. You've got two parts to it. You've got the Guardian Ear, which actually would sit in your baby's room and then the speaker which would go, you know, wherever you would want it in order to monitor it. What's significant about this piece is the design. It's an excellent example of modern design by a very famous Japanese-American designer called Isamu Noguchi. Noguchi was born in Los Angeles but spent much of his life in Japan. Noguchi went on to design furniture, and he was influential to current American designers and architects all over the world.

    GUEST: Oh, really?

    APPRAISER: And this is very typical of his design-- his combining machine elements with the human form. I mean, it's called Radio Nurse, and this looks like a nurse's head. You can see the face and then you can see her kind of hat draped around the back and the side. And the reason it's so scarce today is because during the war, a lot of these were trashed because of the Japanese association with them. And Noguchi, as a Japanese-American designer-- his stock continues to rise, and this has become, you know, like a classic icon of his work. And as a result, everything that's related to Noguchi just continues to be collected by the modern design people. Actually, the Noguchi Museum, which is in New York, has an example of this, and you see it in all the modern design collections in museums throughout the country. And you often just see this speaker. It's not as interesting, this part, because it's not interestingly designed. It often gets thrown away. And it's the original finish on it. So it's pretty significant to have it. This case is okay. It could be buffed up a little, but they're easily cracked, because it is Bakelite. Do you remember how much you paid for it originally?

    GUEST: I believe it was $25, $35.

    APPRAISER: A piece like this in the current market is easily in the $2,000-to-$2,500 range. And I'm really excited that you brought it on, and thanks for bringing it in.

    GUEST: That's amazing.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
    WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
    PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube