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Retro Stereo Project

I’m putting together a stereo to sell. My target price will be $200.

Videos at Google Photos:

Video at YouTube:

This stereo was pieced together from my personal stereo and thrift store purchases. The furniture was found and repaired. Then it was painted bright red.

Components: Denon DRM 500 Cassette, Infinity RS2000 Speakers, Yamaha Natural Sound Receiver

Cassette highlights: Kate Bush, Dave Brubeck, John Lee Hooker, 10,000 Maniacs, Buzzcocks, KROQ on air, KALX on air, Soft Cell, Traveling Wilburys.

Lamp: Yellow Green Glazed Ceramic Onion Shaped Lamp. Has a regular light on top, and a “night light” in the base.

There really isn’t any “theme” to this, but it sits there an says, “Generation X”.


Waiting on the FM antenna. Looking for speaker surrounds. I’m not going to do more work on the nightstand – the other changes aren’t visible. Added more cassettes. Looking around for plastic wood.

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Sold: Cookbook for Robert and Mary Fujioka Mid-Century Industrial Designer

For sale on Ebay:

Community created cookbook for Fujioka anniversary. Many different recipes with a fairly large number of Japanese American community recipes.

Possible connection via USC Industrial Design school, search for “Alumni with Designs for an Industrial Archive

Possible connection of Robert Fujioka to the company Design West as founder. Search for “pacific citizen a strong bond continues“. He may have been an internee at Manzanar relocation camp, and went to design school at USC.

Search for “California Design 9 1965 by MR Design” and search for “design west” within it for examples of Design West products.

Design West Incorporated 3669 W. 6th St, Los Angeles – associated with designing classic Samsonite attache case of the 1960s. Search for LA Times article “Design West Plans to Market the Goods It Styles

From the LA Times article:
So, when Samsonite, then Fujioka’s and Ellsworth’s principal client, offered to make Design West a wholly owned subsidiary with few strings attached, the partners readily accepted.

Over the next several years, Design West created the look of Samsonite’s patio furniture, luggage, brief cases and folding chairs and tables in addition to handling a variety of outside clients.

From the Pacific Citizen article:

He started high school in Chicago, working after hours to support himself. When the group’s sponsor, Mr. Temple, died of a heart attack after their arrival in Chicago, Robert said, I was told that I had to leave the city because I had no sponsor.” He moved to Minneapolis to finish high school, graduating in 1943 while working at night at a foundry shoveling charcoal and later at a granary to support himself. After high school he started college after being told the Navy and Air Force would not let him enlist. A quarter and a half into college, with the war still going on in Europe, he was drafted into the Army, serving two years in the infantry and avoided being deployed to Europe because the war ended.

Fujioka returned to West Los Angeles, living in a boarding house, and attending the University of Southern California on the G.I. Bill majoring in industrial design.

While living in West Los Angeles, Robert Fujioka said he knew of the Yoshiro “Babe” and Shizuko Fujioka family (the “other Robert Fujioka at the reunion) because they lived across the street from the boarding house where he stayed. He met with the “other Fujioka family” while at the reunion.

Robert’s wife, Mary (née Honda), was sent to Manzanar at the beginning of the war when she was 11-1/2 years old, but unlike his brief stay there, she was in the camp from 1942 until August of 1945. They met when her family moved to West Los Angeles when Manzanar closed and according to Robert she walked by his boarding house one day and he called out to her, “What’s your name?” and that, as he said with a grin, “was the being of a beautiful relationship that has lasted through 60 years of marriage.” They have one son whose name is Mark.

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Sold: Polishing the Tea Kettle

Just for the hell of it, I bought some steel wool and started to polish the tea kettle I got several months ago. I set my price pretty high, and it hasn’t sold.

I switched my game to using toothpaste to get a better polish. Here are the results so far.

I have some other polishing compounds, so I’ll try those as well.

I don’t generally associate Showa retro vintage Japanese alumi tea kettles with shiny finishes, but maybe it’ll sell. The patina on the pot, so far, hasn’t had the appeal that I thought it would.

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Showa Retro Auction Site

I stumbled across JAUCE, a site that allows people outside Japan to bid on Yahoo Auctions Japan listings, and pay with PayPal. They charge a fee and the deliver will cost a lot, but that’s how it goes.

What’s amazing, to me, is the appliances section. There’s a ton of Showa Retro consumer goods. People are selling used, old batteries. That’s so weird.

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Toshiba ER-8 Rice Cooker, Historic 炊飯器

Up for Auction: Toshiba ER-8 Rice Cooker, Historic 炊飯器

The Toshiba ER-8 is a larger version of the ER-4, the original rice cooker to gain widespread acceptance in the Japanese market.

The main difference from the later style is that there’s an outer pot and an inner pot, and the timing was controlled by adding water between the two pots. The water would boil, and the heat and steam would cook the food.

This design is no longer sold by Toshiba, but Taiwanese industrial Tatung has a copycat cooker that is still in production and can be purchased new for around $130.

I have listed mine for sale in the 300s, but others are selling these at much lower prices.

These are opportunities to buy historic products at low prices. It appears that, after the ER series, the product was given “RC”, which continues to the present day.

The early models employed the pot-within-a-pot style, rather than the single pot used in current cookers.

A sale concluded in January 2020, a Toshiba RC-10H, for 39.95 + free shipping.

Seller ebernardo98 has two for sale:

Toshiba RC-10H New in original box.

Toshiba RC-10B in original box.

Seller vquillen18 is selling a vintage Toshiba RC-4B.

The RC-180D may also be a pot-within-a-pot style cooker, but it’s hard to be certain.

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Tokyo XmaS Music Box, Christmas Music Cassette Tape

In Japan, there’s an small genre of music where pop songs are rendered as “music box” music. The familiar song is arranged and played in a music box – or, more likely, a synth programmed with music box sounds.

Have you wanted to hear a music box version of John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas”?

What about Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas”?

What about the Japanese hit “Merry Xmas in Summer”?

What about “Christmas Eve” by Tatsuro Yamashita?

Here you go.

You can buy the complete tape on Ebay, at the link below.

Buy on Ebay: Tokyo XmaS Music Box Christmas Music Cassette Tape

You can also contact me directly and I’ll sell it for a little bit less.

If you like this kind of music, search for #r3musicbox on Youtube.

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Probabilities, and California Lottery Decco Playing Cards

The market suddenly got flooded with these California Lottery Decco playing cards. So I’m keeping mine out for a while. If you want one, I will mail it to you for $8.

As of Jan 21, there are 13 sellers.

These are US Playing Card cards, so feel like Bicycle cards.

They have 1980s style graphics on the back, with the iconic California Lottery logo.

The Decco game was pretty simple. You pick 4 cards, and if you match the day’s Decco game,  you get $5,000.  If you match 1,  you get a free play.

So this is a “4/52” game, where you pick 4 from 52 cards.

Owlcation has a good article about calculating lotto probabilities.

The formula is 52! / ( 4! ( 52 – 4 )! ) = 270725.

So the odds of winning are 1 in 270,725.

The odds of matching 1 are 4 in 52, or 1 in 13.