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Sears’ Doorbells Ring-In Post War Prosperity

Following the War, America was optimistic. Returning service men started families in record numbers. Suburbs with millions of new homes sprang up everywhere. American industry was the envy of the world. And Sears was there to satisfy a hunger for consumer goods that had never been seen before.

    Sears Post War Doorbells Art Deco and Streamline styles

Post War Doorbells Art Deco and Streamline styles

The magnitude of the war effort had consumed all the resources of American Industry. It would take a while for engineers and industrial designers to catch-up with the pent-up peacetime demand. Consequently, most doorbells found in the 1945-1948 Sears catalogs necessarily relied on pre-war engineering and reflected the streamlined and art deco styles of late pre-war door chimes. The 1947 Fall catalog featured a significant number of models from the Nutone product line with the notable exception of any multi-note musical chimes. Nutone, like Rittenhouse, Edwards, General Kontrollar, and others, had offered three, and four bell door chimes that played four to eight note melodies since the mid 1930s.

Apparently the price point for multi-note chimes was too much for the mass market and Sears focus in the 1950s was on the enormous—and ever growing—American Middle Class.

Sears would enter the multi-note door chime business before the end of the decade, but in the immediate post war period, Sears concentrated on Sears branded compact and resonator chimes while offering a selection of Nutone long bell chime and compact doorbells.

Sears first catalog musical door chime. The Waldorf, 1949

Sears first catalog musical door chime. The Waldorf, 1949

In 1949, the Sears Big Book catalog finally introduced the Waldorf, a multi-note resonator door chime that played the four note Westminster melody on tone bars. The Waldorf was a short-lived and simplified version of Nutone’s more popular Symphonic Chime, which played the eight note Westminster melody. The Waldorf was superseded by the Nutone Symphonic in the 1951 Sears Catalog Fall edition.

Through much of the 1950s Sears offered a number of chimes from the Nutone line, usually including a single long bell door chime and the eight note Symphonic resonator model.

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