The first bottle radio to be distributed as a promotional item was the bottle radio manufactured by the Crosley Radio Corporation in 1933. The radio, composed of hard plastic, stood 23 inches high and weighed almost 15 pounds. These radios were given to customers in the hope that they would be displayed prominently in the retail outlet, creating an additional advertising opportunity. The radios originally were sold to the bottlers for $18.75 each, a significant sum in the 1930s. Only high volume retail outlets were beneficiaries of this promotional item.Today, these radios are highly collectible, typically selling in the $7000-$8000 range for samples in good condition.
An interesting side note:By the 1920s, the Crosley Radio Corporation was the largest manufacturer of radios in the world.Its owner, Powell Crosley, Jr. purchased the Cincinnati Reds professional baseball team in 1934, just a year after the bottle radio was introduced, and the home field of the Reds was renamed Crosley Field, a name it retained until 1970.