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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tube Box Art, Part 1: RCA


Vacuum tubes have been packaged in very different style boxes, from plain white with black printing to colorful with beautiful themes. After reading my last article about the 866A, my friend Jeremy asked me if he could get scans of the box with the world map motif. He created a beautiful poster with them:

He might make this poster available to everyone. Keep an eye on his website for this. His idea inspired me to start a series of articles about tube box artwork. So this is the first one about tube boxes from RCA, who was probably the largest manufacturer of vacuum tubes.

Most RCA tubes came in the red boxes with the round 'meatball' RCA logo. Here is a selection of boxes in this style:

Starting from the left with tiny boxes, containing acorn and 8 pin noval base tubes to larger tubes with UX4 and Jumbo 4 pin bases like 866A and 8000 on the right.

Later this design got replaced by a more modern, but also more boring looking box:

Compare these to the early Radiotron boxes from the 1920s:

Or to the RCA Victor boxes with the nipper logo:

During a certain period, RCA packed transmitting tubes in boxes with the world map printed on them. Besides the 866, I have seen the 211, 845, 801, 809 and 1625 packaged in these. Here one of my favorite directly heated tubes, the 801 in such boxes:

The world map box is among the most beautiful tube boxes ever made. Certainly the nicest from RCA. They make an awsome display. Here a pristine set of 4 boxes with the 1625, arranged to display the entire world map:

Stay tuned for upcoming articles in this new series of posts about tube box art!

Best regards


P.S.: Do you have some unusual tube boxes? Photos or scans are welcome for future Tube Box Art articles


  1. Nice pics!

    That lineup of older RCA's is very impressive - I didn't know there were so many sizes.

    I saw a guy wearing a nice Nipper T-shirt once - his dad had worked at RCA and it was official company swag. The Nipper tube boxes are nice - what era do you think they come from?

  2. Hi J,

    as far as I know, bot the Nipper box and the world map box were introduced 1938. I don't know how long they were in use.

    Best regards