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New Acquisition: 1947 Tavern Television

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1947 Tavern Television
1947 Tavern Television

The State Museum recently acquired a fully-restored 1947 Tavern Television made by the United States Television Manufacturing Corporation (USTMC). Made in New York City, this unit is believed to be one of only five known sets left in the United States and the only one that is in operating condition, according to donor Adam Sayles of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The Tavern style television produced by USTMC was marketed to bars, hotels, and restaurants. Promotional materials touted that more people would be watching "the big game" on TV than in the stands. In 1947, this was a novel idea. USTMC claimed that up to 800 people could sit in front of the screen and enjoy the game. Those numbers turned into big sales at bars and restaurants, and for a while it was the only way to see the game outside of the stadium. In fact, 1947 was the first year that the World Series was televised, the New York Yankees vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The USTMC rose and fell with the unique market it helped introduce. Although it sold household units, the company focused on its tavern models. Once smaller, reasonably-priced units could be purchased for the home, the Tavern models were no longer as popular and the company went out of business in 1953.