The Hoffman P411 series Home & Travel solar was a truly unique radio. Released in 1957, this monster has a lot going for it. For starters it has to be one of the earliest solar-powered radios. Not only that, but it also used rechargeable batteries that were charged by the solar panel. Yes, rechargeable batteries in 1957. Making it even more unique is that the cabinet for the Home & Travel was supplied by Sony, (actually still Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Ltd. at that time). I believe this is the only example of a radio made by another company ever to use a Sony cabinet, thus look somewhat like a Sony. Still, there are minor differences in the cabinet, which I intend to indicate and discuss in a future update to this entry.
There was a price to pay to own such a rare creature way back when. The P411 series carried a price tag of $159.00. That's double the expensive $76.00 price setting on the P410 Home & Travel, a radio of like design but without the solar power pack. Yes, the P411 Solar ran anywhere from two to four times the price of most any transistor radio on the market in 1957. For reference, also note the prices of the contemporary Arvin 8576 ($49.95) and Arvin 9577 ($59.95) radios. The rechargeable batteries were even more outrageously expensive at $9.00 a set, (as compared to $0.80 a set for standard AA-cells.)
Not only did this radio represent the culmination of breakthrough technologies and design, but it was a high-end luxury item. As a result, I doubt many would have been sold. At the same time, I think Hoffman brought this model out as much to make a statement and grab mind share as they did to immediately sell truckloads of radios. This is witnessed by the appearance of this radio on the cover of Popular Science magazine in August of that year, (in this colour!)
The Hoffman P411 (and P410) series radios were available in five colours: Seal Black (K), Desert Sand [beige] (B), Turquoise (T), Calico Red (R) and Circus Pink (P).