Estes Auctions -- Marconi Museum
Burbank, Ohio -- January 19, 2008
BY RAY CHASE
The Estes January auction featured items from the Marconi Museum in Bedford, New Hampshire, along with other collections and consignments. This was a large auction event featuring an especially large presale that normally includes only low value or damaged goods. However, this sale had an inordinate number of better items, including medical diagnostic equipment, good test equipment, some better Ham gear, and a 3-tube Atwater Kent breadboard that might be original, albeit a bit the worse for wear.
Many additional consignments coming in Friday evening and Saturday morning also swelled this presale so much that it was not concluded until 10:10 a.m., holding up the start of the main sale. I have included a listing of some of the noteworthy items from this sale.
In this large, cardboard, cutout window display, Marconi touts the superiority of the RCA Model 30 and other RCA superhet models. This display sold for $1,800.
The main sale was quite a bit larger than usual and included a good selection of console radios, lots of phonograph items, Ham gear, magazines and paper, and, as usual, many tubes, some in large lots. During the main sale, there were six side auctions to deal with a large batch of phonograph reproducers, cylinder records, and disc records. Phonograph-related books, general paper and photographs, test equipment and boxes of parts, along with bulk tube lots, were also offered. None of these is included in the detailed item list from the main auction. Needless to say, I was kept hopping.
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.
And the winner is -- This Marconi induction coil transmitter was the top dollar item in the auction. It sold for $20,000.
The weather for this auction was clear but quite cold. A fair number of people showed up for the Friday evening viewing and a large crowd of over 100 bidders was present on Saturday. Only a few significant Marconi items were sold. I had never visited this museum in New Hampshire, which is now closed, so perhaps I expected more historic items to be offered.
The highest sale bid went for the large Marconi induction coil/transmitter that went for $20,000. It was claimed to be from the Wellfleet, Mass., station. A Marconi 106B receiver, less case and a few parts, sold for $4,000, while a large porcelain Marconi Wireless sign (attached to a door for support) went for $1,100. An exceptionally nice, almost full size, cardboard, store-window display depicting Mr. Marconi proclaiming the virtues of RCA Radiola Superheterodyne radios sold for $1,800. However, I do not think that this item came from the Marconi Museum.
Another Marconi sign -- also of porcelain-on-metal construction, it measures 72" wide x 34" high. It also exhibits chipping and rust, but sold for $1,000.
The rest of the Marconi items were more ordinary. There were some nice early military items and a large batch of nice Ham equipment. This was a good sale, a good variety with something for nearly everyone.
The large (and heavy) home-brew Ham transmitter, left, utilizes two commercial units from Millen. It sold for $150. Center is an E.H. Scott Model 800 B and speaker mounted on a typewriter table that sold for $225. The rack-mounted National RAS-5, right, with power supply, coil holder, and speaker, sold for $500.
I believe that there were some nice bargains scattered throughout the auction, and I suspect that most attendees were happy as they left. In the presale, I found an Atwater Kent 55 chassis complete, except for the two 45 tubes. It looked like it had just come new from the factory, and I paid only $32.50 for it. This will go to an Atwater Kent Kiel table in our NJARC InfoAge Museum to replace its rather rusted corroded original.
The main sale items that I recorded totaled up to about $75,000, but that does not include the presale auction or the many side auctions. As I indicated, the weather was cold, and by mid-afternoon, some buyers were checking out and taking their purchases out to their vehicles. This let in a lot of cold air, and by 4:00 p.m., my fingers were too cold to write any more. I left at about 4:15 p.m. with maybe 15 to 30 minutes of the sale remaining.
A Paramount 3-tube set made by Klitzen of St. Louis, Missouri. Without tubes, but in what appears to be good condition, it sold for $725.
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=push buttons, 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. See print version of A.R.C. for complete auction listing.
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.