This is a Philco TB3 "television booster." It's a tuned RF amplifier (what used to be called a pre-selector) that works over the VHF spectrum. This connects between the antenna and the television set, and you tune it to the channel you want to pick up. The tuner is continuous, so the best way to work it is to turn the TV to the channel you want, then adjust this booster until the TV reception is best. If you change channels, you have to do it all over again.
I use something like this on my current tv antennas, though there's no tuning to them. A lot of modern indoor antennas have them built-in, which is why you have to plug them into the wall as well as into the TV.
Back to this guy. Its cabinet is the same as Philco's PT-26 Transitone, which was made between between 1939 and 1941; they must have had a warehouse full of them because they used it again for this device in 1952. I got the 1952 date from a Philco ad in the back of Radio Electronics magazine, May 1952. I bought it because I figured it would go well with my 49 Philco TV.
Can't use it. Some ass cut the cord off at the top, and it's the type with a plug at both ends, and what I'm calling the top plug is riveted to the back panel; the idea being that if you pull the back panel off, it cuts the power so you can't get shocked. A lot of 50s era radios use this. Unfortunately, they cut the cord at what I'm calling the top, which means I have to drill out the rivets, find the equivalent cord, and then either rivet it back (which I may or may not be able to do) or bolt it on. I wish to hell people who have to cut cords would cut the other end off.
With the back panel off, I see I'm missing one of the tubes. I don't have the schematic for it so I don't know what's missing. I have not yet pulled the chassis to see what's underneath.
Current Status: needs an AC cord, a tube (don't know which), and probably capacitors. The dial cord is also slipping.