Estes Auctions -- The Zander Collection
Burbank, Ohio -- May 23, 2009
REPORTED BY RAY CHASE
See "full issue PDFs" for complete article including auction price listing
It is difficult to find superlatives to describe the Estes auction of May 2009, especially since the prior Estes auction that I had attended in March was mainly a bargain basement affair. What a difference this auction was in that there was an excess of magnificent radios on display and available for those wishing to acquire them.
This was primarily the Kenneth Zander collection of San Jose, California. Never had I seen so many great Zenith radios together in one place. There were at least 40 high quality Zenith sets, including over 10 excellent shutter-dial models, and culminating, of course, in a truly magnificent Zenith 1000Z Stratosphere console. Not to be outdone were four outstanding Majestic consoles, another four highly collectible Scott radios, a collection of seldom (or never before seen) Australian console radios, along with representative high-end radios from Midwest, Sparton, Stromberg-Carlson, McMurdo Silver, and finally a La France console that could challenge the best of Scott, Zenith and others.
This rare, and colorful, Perryman vacuum tube advertising display sold for $275. The Perryman Electric Co. was in N. Bergen, N.J. The small banners held by the characters say, at right, "The Patented Perryman Bridge keeps the elements in proper position permanently. Jars and jolts do not affect Perryman Tubes"; and at left, "The Expansion Spring, an exclusive Perryman improvement, keeps the filament from breaking due to strains caused by changing temperature."
What a privilege to see, touch, and photograph these fine radios before they went to other appreciative owners. Then there were the radio lamps-- never-before-seen examples of radios combined with table and floor lamps, some with no visible manufacturers labels.
First to the 25-tube Zenith Stratosphere. This was a fine example, complete and in good shape. It was Serial Number 60, and it sold here for $39,000. The companion white cat statuette was sold separately for $500. There was some discussion as to whether the correct cat should be white or black, but I will leave that up to the expert Zenith historians.
As for the LaFrance Model SF console, this was a favorite of mine as I once owned a smaller one like it. I eventually found out that these consoles were made by Webster Chicago probably for Montgomery Ward or Sears. The Model 6F presented here had two chromed chassis and multiple speakers, a model that could give most Scotts a run for their money. It sold for $1,900.
One could go on and on describing the wonders in this collection, but suffice it to add some statistics.
This interesting Zenith 7S261 console, with knick-knack shelves, sold for $1,300.
Of the 525 lots that I recorded, 33 of them sold for over $1,000 each, while another 21 sold for between $500 and $1,000. The average sale price per lot was $329, an outstanding figure. The sales total that I recorded came to $172,600, not including the 5 percent premium that is charged here and not including the early sale or any of the side auctions.
This auction also contained items from a Michigan collection, as well as a special consignment from Frank and Eleanor Quinn containing memorabilia related to filmmaker Mike Todd. This single lot consisted of a Regency TR1 radio, an "Around the World in 80 Days" music box, an original sound track album from "Around the World in 80 Days," and other personalized memorabilia from Mike Todd. Frank Quinn was past president of the New York Film Critics Circle and also hosted a radio show and a television talk/game show. Eleanor Quinn was a public relations writer for various studios. This unique lot sold for $8,500.
Several other items merit comment. First, there was a very nice Perryman tube display that brought a price of $275. Next, a very early Edison open-frame motor with brass blade fan sold for $2,800, in spite of having an open winding. Then another consignment consisted of most if not all the internal components for another Zenith Stratosphere radio, both chassis and all the speakers, etc. It looked to be in reasonably good condition, but did not sell when bidding stopped at $5,000, and that did not meet the seller's reserve.
The Zenith 1000Z Stratosphere on the left dwarfs the three normal-size Majestic consoles. Although the Stratosphere drew a high bid of $39,000, the three Majestic consoles brought respectable bids as well. Left to right, a Model 760 Lido sold for $1700, a Model 906 Riviera with display shelves sold for $1,800, and a Model 666 Ritz sold for $1,200.
The weather for this sale was ideal and the Friday viewing was quite crowded. Obviously, the pre-sale publicity attracted many potential buyers. A lot of additional consignments were coming in on Friday evening and even some early on Saturday morning. Again many were probably trying to take advantage of a large turnout for this sale. However, bringing in consignments on Saturday morning can be a gamble since there is no pre-sale publicity for them, and viewing time on Saturday morning is limited due to the early low-value sale that starts at 8:30 a.m. The early sale started on time, and there was, indeed, a lot of stuff to move. It actually ran until 10:10 a.m. in order to process all the goods.
Yes, there were a few battery sets in the auction. On the top is a Grebe CR-12 that sold for $700, and on the bottom is a Cutting and Washington Type 11-A which sold for $450.
When the main sale started, there were over 110 bidders registered, and some were still coming in. This sale had fewer radios than normal and fewer battery sets, military, or Ham gear. For a change, there were not many items "under the tables" where box lots and parts lots are usually presented. Still there were some bulk lots of tubes, test equipment, and parts on the tables, as well as a good assortment of paper items.
About mid-afternoon the crowd thinned out quite a bit after all the "juicy" items had been sold. At 3:30 a.m., side auctions for the tubes, test equipment, and paper were started, and so many people left their seats for the side auctions that the main auction was suspended for a while. Then a little after 4:00 p.m. the side auctions concluded, and the main auction resumed. During this running back and forth, I missed quite a few items and did not record any of the side auctions. I stopped my limited recording at 4:45 and left at 5:00 p.m. while some tube lots were still being sold off.
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.
One final note: The pictures of many of the high-end radios show most of the knobs missing. This is a precaution that Estes takes to avoid the knobs being "mysteriously lost," especially for the wooden and rare knobs. The buyer of the radio can then claim the knob set at the cashier when paying for his or her purchase.
e=excellent, vg=very good, g=good, f=fair, p=poor, unk=unknown condition, N.O.S.=new old stock, wk=working, nwk=not working, WT=with tubes, NT=no tubes, BB=brass-based, TT=tipped tube, SW=shortwave, PS=power supply, PB=pushbuttons, WE=Western Electric. All prices have been rounded down to the dollar. Some low cost items and items in poor condition or non-specific descriptions are omitted
Ray Chase has been a radio enthusiast and a collector of many types of radios for years. Currently, he specializes in World War II electronics equipment, as well as early battery superheterodynes. He also has an extensive collection of radio documentation and ephemera.