During the 1920s, canaries became a popular pet in many households
across America and so there was a large market for bird cages.
Indianapolis entrepreneur, Benjamin Aufterheide, recognized this
growing market and with the help of John Nusbaum, who was educated in
sales and marketing, and Wilber (last name unknown) who was skilled in
the craft of spinning steel, founded the Indianapolis Cage Corporation
In a factory building which was built with glazed orange
brick, they started manufacturing chromed steel bird cages, and later,
a line of smoking stands. 1928 and 1929 proved to be prosperous
years for the little company until the stock market crash in October of
1929. Once the depression set in after the crash, many families
fell on hard times an could no longer afford to keep canaries as
pets. The demand for bird cages fell off sharply and the company
stayed solvent by fulfilling old orders and manufacturing smoking
The company felt that if they were to survive, they had
to find a new product to manufacture, along with the bird cages and
smoking stands, and so, in 1932 they entered the radio market.
The company felt that they had the machinery and the know how to put on
the market an inexpensive, yet quality made radio. What they came
up with is a domed top radio which they named the "Victory" and sold
for $12.95. The five tube, TRF, chassis was assembled at the Cage
factory and the cabinets were manufactured by a furniture company
located in southern Indiana. Production started in the fall of
1932 and sales was good, especially during the Christmas season.
It was not long, however, that many of the sold radios
were being returned as defective in performance. As it turned out
the company had made a major oversight in the production of their radio
chassis. Instead of using rosen core solder in the manufacture of
the chassis, acid core solder was used. The company used acid
core because that was the solder of choice in making bird cages and
smoking stands but what they didn't know is that it tends to have
disastrous results when used to solder copper wire. The wiring in
almost all of the radios they sold was coming loose and rendering the
radios useless. To honor the warranties, the company resoldered
many of the faulty chassis with rosen core solder and sometimes
replaced the chassis entirely with a properly made new chassis.
During this time, John Nausbaum was secretly diverting sales prospects
for bird cages away from the company and to the Crown Bird Cage
Company, a newly formed company that was founded by John Nausbaum's
nephew, Edward Little.
Problems with the Victory radio, coupled with John
Nausbaum's deception proved to be too much of a financial strain for
the little company and so in 1933, the Indianapolis Cage Corporation
went into bankruptcy.