Jason and the Argos Gnomes (Part Three): The Pye 1225 Stereogram

Last of the teak-aged idols

The 1974/75 edition was the last Argos Catalogue to boast a mainly plain cover. After the 1974 catalogue incurred a 20p charge (equivalent to £2.11 today), the 1974/75 catalogue was back to being a free publication. One marked difference was editorial direction. Firstly, the Woodstock/Fairport Convention style typefaces were replaced by Helvetica. Secondly, cameras were moved from the first pages of the catalogue in favour of crockery.

There was two other changes of a shift in order and consumer trends. One was a greater page count for jewellery – later the Elizabeth Duke range. Another was a solitary example of an item which may have looked aesthetically out of place for 1974.

The Pye 1225 Stereogram

Before Japanese technology added more bang for one’s buck, home entertainment systems were designed for communal use. They would also be perceived as part of the furniture. Imposing radio sets would fill the room with sound and be placed at a similarly focal point as today’s 36″+ televisions.

The stereogram served a similar purpose, offering the joys of stereo sound, a decent turntable and (typically) a three-band radio. As well as blasting your favourite tunes, they offered storage for your cherished vinyl collection. Compared with a standard music centre, they attracted a premium price with cabinets built by craftsmen. A focal point whilst silent as well as set to the strains of Interstellar Overdrive or Crime of the Century.

The Pye 1225 Stereogram was an aspirational feature among households, and hails from a time when Pye receivers featured in many a UK home. The company, British owned at the time, was founded in Cambridge by William George Pye in 1896. It established itself in the radio and broadcast industries. By 1974, the company was suffering from industrial relations issues. Eighteen months since the publication of this catalogue, they were taken over by Philips. Their Lowestoft factory was sold to Sanyo.

The 1974/75 catalogue would be the Pye 1225’s last airing. After that, the slimline music centres popularised by GEC, Sanyo and Philips would become the norm. At around that time, an Essex upstart began his assent to stardom in a similar field, before being famed for his cheap PCs and satellite receivers. The rest as they say is… (“You’re fired”).

  • Argos Catalogue edition: Number Three (1974/75);
  • Page and item numbers: page 186, item 1;
  • 1974 Prices: £76.00 (£110.45, RRP);
  • 2014 Prices: £802.16 (£1,165.78, RRP).

S.V., 03 December 2014.

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