Vintage Radio & Phonograph Society Convention
Mesquite, Texas -- November 11-14, 2004
Celebrating 30 years 1974-2004
REPORTED BY GEORGE POTTER
As is often said, "Better late than never." How true for this November 2004 VRPS convention report, which confirms that it was an outstanding event. However, as many of you may know, George Potter works for FEMA, and, understandably, the events of this past year have kept him rather busy; thus, the delay in his compiling this report.
I was able to attend the event and have augmented George's report with additional photos and information. (Editor)
The Vintage Radio & Phonograph Society, Inc., (VRPS), held its 29th annual convention at the Hampton Inn Suites in Mesquite, Texas, November 11-14, 2004. This is an outstanding facility -- easy to get to, close to restaurants, plenty of parking -- leaving little to be desired in the way of comfort.
James Wilkins plays back the cylinder recorded at the meet, while Jim Sargent, VRPS President, holds a microphone in front of the horn so that the banquet attendees can hear the recording. The barbershop quartet Dallas Blend, with jackets off, are "cooling down" in the background while also listening to their recording.
The attendance total was 348 of which 235 were registered. The proceeds for both Friday and Saturday auctions totaled $57,065.
In conjunction with this annual event, VRPS celebrated 30 years as a club, which started back in November of 1974. In those days, radio collecting activities were on a much smaller scale than today. Consider the fact that only two books had been published on radio -- Vintage Radio and Flick of the Switch! Times have changed, and, of course, since we are in Texas, everything is big and bigger, so peruse the events described here!
This contest entry resembles an Atwater Kent breadboard. It was manufactured by the Radio Products Manufacturing Company, RPM. Like the Atwater Kent sets, it also has individual "islands" that are mounted on a breadboard.
A warning: Auction prices are not current values. Our selection of auction items is not necessarily complete. A listing such as this cannot adequately include the condition of cabinets, chassis, transformers, tubes, the operating status of the set, and the inclusion of incorrect, restored or replica components, etc. Auction prices are the result of the excitement of the auction process, the skill of the auctioneer and the specific interests of the participants. Nevertheless, auction prices serve as useful references and as another element in the value determining process. The possibility of error always exists, and if we are notified, corrections will be reported.
This contest entry is a Grebe RORK detector/2-stage audio amplifier. The exposed rheostat windings indicate that this is the early version.
VRPS had several special events that were scheduled during the convention. The first was on Friday when a CD was presented -- a yearlong project produced by Blake Dietze of Vancouver, Washington, with George Potter assembling all the archived photos. Pictured were longtime members through the years from 1974 to 2004, as well as some of our annual events. Several of the chartermembers had passed away in recent years, but this was a celebratory occasion, so we were viewing them during the great times we had enjoyed over the years.
The CD is approximately 35 to 40 minutes in duration and is available in both black and white and color. Copies of this CD entitled "30 Great Years with VRPS" were available for purchase at the front desk for a nominal fee.
The contest 2nd place winner was this very nice 1923 Ozarka portable.
To commemorate the celebration, each person registering at the convention, was presented with a free, black, polo shirt with collar/sleeve stripes. The shirt also has a color embroidered VRPS logo and an embroidered "Celebrating 30 Years, 1974-2004" on the sleeve. Additional shirts could be purchased at the reception desk.
Also available for purchase were black duck-bill caps with the VRPS logo in color on the front and the Texas flag on the back. "Celebrating 30 Years 1974-2004" was embroidered on the side.
The Old Equipment Contest is always an outstanding part of this convention. Dozens of entries in 20 categories were on display, and photos of several unusual, rare, and rarely seen items, are shown on pages 9, 10 and 11. Examples are Mike Grimes's Marconi coherer and Tom Burgess's RPM breadboard, a set very few may have seen before.
Tom also gave a technical session demonstrating his Western Television Corp. mechanical TV equipment in operation. He had assembled an operating television camera that would generate the required signals for an early mechanical TV receiver. Needless to say, a crowd gathered to see it work, as shown in the photo above.
This Western Electric 600A carbon button microphone sold for $160 in the auction.
Focus on Auctions
Unlike most meets that focus on a flea market, the VRPS Convention concentrates on the auctions, of which there are five spread over two days. The flea market is almost an afterthought relegated to Sunday morning only.
Friday's auction events included a Silent Auction, a Tube and Paper Auction #1, and a Friday Auction #2, which generally featured lower cost radio items.
Saturday's events included check-in for the Saturday auction, a silent auction, and the big Saturday auction. At this latter event, two large sheet cakes with the VRPS logo celebrating our 30 years were served to convention participants.
Jim Sargent, VRPS President, was auctioneer, with Bill Werzner from Houston, HVRA President, assisting from time to time. Drawings were alsoheld for preregistration members and for door prizes.
One has to be amazed at the kind of organization and the number of volunteers needed to run such an event. In this case the auctioneers were assisted by closed-circuit television so that all items, like heavy consoles, could be shown.
Though few high prices showed up in this auction, the total of over $57,000 is a very respectable outcome. The highest price was secured by a Zenith Walton selling at $1,550. Other sales of note were a DeForest Bulletin, selling at $225; a Crosley Pup, at $350; an RCA Radiola 26, at $370; and a Grebe CR-9, at $375.
A color photo is needed to best show these red, white and blue versions of the Montgomery Ward Airline Model 94KR1520. These sets were manufactured in 1949 by Kraft Radio for Ward as indicated by the "KR" in the model number.
Special Saturday Event
The culmination of events on Saturday was the annual banquet, which was sold out quickly, with 125 attending. The famous Dallas Vocal Majority presented its barbershop quartet, the Dallas Blend. This award-winning group of men presented a medley of songs; however, the program got more interesting, because for the first time, they recorded a tune onto a 1893 Bell Tainter Graphophone Type I cylinder phonograph well over 100 years old.
James "Rick" Wilkins of Duncanville, Texas, brought and assembled his 12-foot galvanized horn, which had been used to record a quartet at our convention back in 1982. This monster of a horn has to be broken down into several sections, and then attached to the cylinder machine with a special crane. An original recording reproducer was used, and, of course, Rick was there to add any adjustments.
The Dallas Blend quartet had never done anything like thisbefore, so it required some real hot air (of the human kind). Members of the quartet had to lean into the horn literally and sing loudly -- shout, that is. The brown wax cylinder which contained the recording was presented to the quartet and another was made for the club. I can't say I've ever seen a group of men "sweat" so much for one song in my lifetime!
On Sunday morning our final event was the flea market, which saw a crowded room and lots of equipment being traded, swapped or sold. By noontime, everyone had hit the road to home, taking with them fond memories of a celebration of 30 great years.
e=excellent, vg=very good, g=good, f=fair, p=poor, unk=unknown condition, N.O.S.=new old stock, wk=working, WT=with tubes, NT=no tubes, SW=shortwave, PS=power supply, PB=push buttons, WE=Western Electric. All prices have been rounded down to the dollar. Some low cost items and items in poor condition or nonspecific descriptions are omitted. See print version of A.R.C. for complete auction listing.
Photos by Jeannine James, David Potter and John Terrey.
(George Potter, P.O. Box 165345, Irving, TX 75016)
The Vintage Radio and Phonograph Society (VRPS) publishes "The Reproducer" quarterly and "Soundwaves" monthly between the quarterlies. Dues are $17.50. Activities include monthly meetings, a spring auction, an annual convention, and a summer swap meet. For more information: George Potter, P.O. Box 165345, Irving, TX 75016. www.vrps.org.