Radio XL -- a.k.a. Radio 40
Westford, Massachusetts -- February 15, 2009
REPORTED BY DOROTHY SCHECTER
How often is the weather bright, sunny, and almost warm in New England for a February weekend? Not often, in the memories of devotees of the Greater Boston Antique Radio Collectors (GBARC) meet held annually at the Westford Regency Hotel in Westford, Mass., and hosted by Antique Radio Classified. But, this was the year that luck was with us, and a sizable crowd turned out. The total attendance was 528, down only 8 percent from last year's, in spite of the economy. The 87 tables sold were down about 7 percent.
More than 32 rooms were reserved at the hotel by folks who came from afar, an indication that the hotel amenities (pool, health club, restaurants, ample parking) are really appreciated. In fact, Bruce and Charlotte Mager confessed that they had actually closed Waves, their store in New York City, for the weekend. It sounded as if that was a first, and we began to suspect that Valentine's Day figured into the weekend equation.
The 55 exhibitors and their helpers were ready at 8 a.m. to do business and to trade the latest radios, anecdotes and information. Also on hand were representatives of various clubs at tables provided by A.R.C., since we're all in the business of spreading the word about radio activities.
Bob Sukosky's rare trio -- an Adams Morgan 10-R RF amplifier, an RA-10 tuner, and a DA-2 detector/amplifier, which were released in 1923, 1920 and 1922 respectively. An advertisement in the June 1922 issue of "The Wireless Age" asked, "Do you want to hear all the broadcasting stations within 1000 miles? ... Do you want to practice real economy ... more value ... than cheaper sets?" The 1922 price for the RA-10 and the DA-2, including aerial, tubes and batteries, was "only" $275.
Bruce Phillips's Predicta TV working!
Charlie Perkett of the New England Antique Radio Club advertised their April meet in Manchester, N. H., while Michael Crestohl promoted the May New England Amateur Radio Festival (NEAR-Fest) in Deerfield, N. H.
Representing the "Flea at MIT" was Steve Finberg who handed out flyers about the very large flea market held monthly from April to October in Cambridge, Mass., where radio, electronic, and computer equipment is sold and/or swapped. Steve also brought along several of his students from M.I.T. who were admitted at a discount. An educational outreach program like this is another way to encourage the next generation to take up the cause of radio preservation.
Adam Lagocki of the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum of Connecticut, displayed a rare Amplifex from the museum's collection.
Connecticut Museum Story
As mentioned above, A.R.C. encourages representatives of radio clubs and museums to come to the meet gratis, and talk with collectors about the common goal of the preservation of radio history. John Bayusik displayed a rare Amplifex receiver, representative of the impressive collection housed by the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum of Connecticut, now located in the town of Windsor.
The museum publishes a handsome, three-fold brochure listing its display areas, which are arranged chronologically to show the changes in technology from the 1800s to 1970. Everything is covered, from early radio to television, computers and business electronics.
Classes and workshops, as well as a fully operational Amateur radio station, are part of the outreach program. A research library is being developed, and a recent grant will support setting up a studio for broadcasting and recording within the museum.
As a totally volunteer organization, the museum relies primarily on donations, swap meets, and tour revenues. A recent fund raiser, the First Annual Wine and Chocolate Fair, sounds like an unlikely topic for a radio museum, but more than 150 people came, received samples, and placed orders with the vendors.
This six-unit Amrad receiver is a rare item. It includes four of the square, single-unit sized pieces, and two rare double-sized units. On the left end is the vertical 3071 2-stage RF amplifier, and on the upper right is the 2776 2-stage audio amplifier. Unfortunately, all of the unit identification tags were missing.
Radio XL Vendors
All of the New England states, as well as New York and New Jersey, were represented among the vendors. Mike Sanders and helper Chris Kavanagh from Connecticut were fairly typical with offerings of "a little of everything." I eavesdropped on one of their exchanges with customer Paul Buresh of Needham, Mass., who was pretty enthralled with a Grundig Model 25-40 because of its beautiful cabinet. Should he buy it to house his own fully restored chassis housed in an imperfect cabinet? He went away to think about it.
I never found out if the sale was made, but the encounter seemed fairly common -- many shoppers come to the meet in search of a "marriage" of parts to make a perfect set.
One supplier of those parts, also from Connecticut, is Howard McAuliffe, who was there with his able assistant, daughter Susan, who reported that they have a great response from their monthly A.R.C. ad. She should know -- she answers the phone and e-mail requests for tubes, parts, manuals, etc. She also does the inventory and can give fast answers. All vendors should have such a knowledgable assistant.
And many do. Take the well-known team of Charlotte and Bruce Mager, mentioned earlier, whose handsome setup in the corner of the side room, is always worthy of special note. The Magers can be relied upon to offer a plethora of radio treasures. An eyecatcher was a compact neon sign saying, "World's Greatest Radio -- Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra -- WBBN." And who could miss the music playing on "Snow White's Coffin," a beautiful, white, German Braun, ca 1957, designed by Dieter Rams?
In fact, Snow White must be in style at the Magers' shop. A small Emerson table set, ca 1939-1940, sparked much interest with its wooden front carved with the figures of Snow White and the seven dwarfs.
Another pair of entrepreneurs, Karen and Dave Sutherland of Spofford, N. H., showed a wide range of radio-related wares. Over the years, the Sutherlands have gone from her interest in jewelry and sewing machine antiquing and his work in radio broadcasting to owning a 3,700 sq. ft. store in the Colony Mill complex in Keene N. H. Their six employees sell every conceivable kind of radio ephemera from doll house radios to you name it. Certainly a shop to visit when you're near southern N. H.
Three of the over 30 collectors who visited John Terrey's museum are admiring the display of colorful Neutrowound sets which are in black, blue and red.
A new team on the block was Bob Sukosky and his fiancé Patricia Stryker from Manchester, Conn. Bob, of course, has been coming for years, but this was Patricia's first show, and she was obviously sold on the whole experience. That's lucky for Bob, since he is a serious collector who sticks to keeping sets in their original state. An example was the rare Adams Morgan Paragon trio on his table -- a 10-R RF amplifier, an RA-10 tuner, and a DA-2 detector/amplifier. The couple promises to return next year.
A relatively new team with a new business to tout were the Peloquins who are recent transplants from California to Canton, Mass. They have a very elaborate setup for producing embroidered hats, bags, polo shirts, and the like, with names, slogans, club logos, etc. Both are Ham operators, but who knows -- this show may turn them into vintage radio collectors too.
One of the great things about this event is the numbers of families who participate. It's not just husbands and wives, but also children of various ages who show up annually. Jeff Gardner, his wife Diane and son Ben come from Gloversville, New York, and stay overnight at the hotel. They were happy vendors because they wouldn't have to carry their heavy Philco Radio Bar home.
In his regular spot for so many years we can't count, Bruce Phillips displayed more of his larger sets than usual because his son Ross came from Philadelphia to help carry the heavy load from N.H. We remember a much younger Ross helping at the meet years ago, so he obviously hasn't lost interest in Dad's hobby.
A great sign hangs over Bruce's table -- "This is your lucky day. Tell me what you're looking for -- I probably have it." No doubt about that. One small eyecatcher was a red and white Addison table radio made in a variety of colors that Bruce promises to write about for A.R.C. in his retirement years. We'll look forward to that.
Perhaps the most hopeful sign that radio collecting will live on was the sight of Ryan Seickel, a thriving infant, riding happily around in a carriage pushed by his mom Melanie. His dad Scott was off on a faster tour of the tables, maybe looking for sets to supplement their collection of Atwater Kents. Having come to this meet from New Jersey for 15 years, the Seickels expect to be bringing Ryan along for many more.
John Terrey's Museum of Early Radio and Wireless
For the second consecutive year, Editor John Terrey opened his museum to attendees at the meet. The museum occupies the main floor of the beautiful "barn" that he and his wife Sarah built in 2007. The barn also houses a studio for Sarah, the A.R.C office, and a library.
Over 30 collectors took advantage of the opportunity to view the more than 600 pre-1925 radios, amplifiers, horns, crystal sets, etc. The display is still evolving, and John welcomes information about augmenting his collection. Drop him a note anytime.
We hope to see many more of you at Radio XLI on February 14, 2010. If because of distance you really need two days to attend, a stay at the Westford Regency Hotel on the eve of Valentine's Day is a long-range plan worth making.
(Dorothy Schecter, c/o A.R.C, P.O. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741)