Antique Wireless Association
Conference and Auction Report
Rochester, New York -- September 5-8, 2001
COMPILED FROM REPORTS BY LARRY BABCOCK, RAY CHASE, JOHN V. TERREY, AND THE AWA
The Antique Wireless Association (AWA) held its 40th annual historical radio conference at the RIT Inn and Conference Center, formerly the Thruway Marriott in Rochester, New York, September 5-8, 2001. Registered attendees numbered 854, down from last years 981.
The flea market overflowed to the grass. Here's something for nearly everyone.
The change of hotel name came as a surprise to everyone, including the AWA organizers who did not know until mid-August that the Marriott ownership had been transfered to the Rochester Institute of Technology. More than half the hotel rooms had already become dormitory rooms, and AWA members felt very much like displaced persons. In fact, some really were displaced because their reservations were not honored, and they were moved to other hotels.
In addition, the guest facilities were obviously being scaled down, as there were fewer choices on the restaurant menu and the bar was closed -- not a happy circumstance for people from all over the world looking for a common, social meeting place. In general, having students on the premises was not a major problem, except for obvious signs of destruction, such as graffiti on the walls. Such signs of deterioration were particularly sad, as our last year's report remarks on the extensive hotel renovations that made the accommodations so improved.
Considering the difficulties of a last minute scramble to relocate people and to keep the conference together, the AWA organizers should be commended for doing the best that they could. Fortunately, the same Marriott staff was running things, so we saw familiar faces helping out. Also, there was ample parking because there were fewer guests in the hotel.
This unusual Stromberg-Carlson contest entry is an International Allwave portable Model AWP-8 with 8 bands and Taylor Instruments temperature, humidity, and barometer indicators. It is displayed with manuals and a warranty card.
Naturally, the scuttlebutt everywhere was, "What about next year?" Some said that we'll just have to live with the changed circumstances. Others, of course, see this as an opportunity to fix all the problems with this conference that have existed for years. A.R.C. falls into this latter camp.
Those problems have been pointed out in previous A.R.C. reports on the AWA conference, but none have been addressed to date. The core issue remains convenience of parking, not just for members but for the encouragement of participation by the general public. A venue must be found that will not require a shuttle bus that drops a casual attendee, who might also be a potential member and buyer, at a forbidding sign saying, "For Members Only... Strictly Enforced."
As we have suggested in past years, the time for compromise with the idea of having the hotel, flea market, and all activities in one place is at hand. If no facility can be found to accommodate everything, then let the hotel component be elsewhere. Most hotels, after all, object to having a flea market occupy their parking lots, so a separate, large flea market space near enough to the AWA's roots in Rochester would seem to be the solution. As we have also said before, because AWA has always in many ways been a success doesn't mean that it can't get much better. Given the hotel change, now is the time.
A last minute addition to the auction was this Atwater Kent Model 5. Although the board and the component were original, this was not a factory-made set. It sold for $2,250.
Though some may have been disgruntled about the accommodations, they couldn't complain about the weather. It was beautiful -- some said "the best ever" -- no rain and temperatures in the 70s and 80s. In your editor's annual walk around the flea market on Wednesday noon, 189 vendors were open, about the same as last year but down from the late 1990s. Sold spaces numbered 278, but not everyone was set up at the same time. On Thursday, the number of open vendors dropped to 148, a faster drop than in the past.
Among the rare and unusual items that appeared in the flea market was an early wireless CN-113 offered for $3,200. Another SE-1420 was priced at $3,800. Early battery sets were also in evidence; for example, a Federal 61 at $1,475, a 2-panel version of the Tuska 225 at $500, and a Paragon IV at $400.
Stromberg-Carlson as a theme inspired many interesting contest entries. Striking entries were a S-C International Allwave Model AWP-8, an 8-band portable, and a S-C 1924 portable prototype similar to the Model 1B, both seen in photos on these pages. A Maclite Model B, manufactured in Boston and excellent test-equipment entries also piqued interest.
A Westinghouse RC (left) and a Tuska 225, the 2-panel version, seen in the flea market at $250 and $500 respectively.
What sets this meet apart from all others is the number and quality of the seminars. Little did Bart Lee know when presenting his "News for Shortwave Listeners" seminar on the 5th that he would be using his skills only six days later to keep communications lines open at the World Trade Center disaster as we reported last month. Another opening day presentation was the "AWA Members' Forum," an open discussion about the operation and mission of AWA, conducted by AWA President Bill Fizette.
Other interesting topics were "Key and Telegraph," moderated by Tom Perera; "'Big' Millen Transmitter on the Air for 75M Phone AM Operation," presented by Don Buska; "Moonlight Restoration Forum," hosted by Marc Ellis; "A Review of Amateur Operation" with Mike and Bob Raide; and "Pre-1912 Wireless and Electrical Apparatus," moderated by Lauren Peckham.
Unfortunately, tube expert Ludwell Sibley and his wife Marilyn were seriously injured in an automobile accident on their way to the conference, and Lud's seminar on the Stromberg-Carlson Company had to be cancelled. Luckily, an AWA slide presentation on WHIM, the Stromberg-Carlson station in Rochester, New York, was available as a substitute.
We're glad to report that after a lengthy stay in a Chicago hospital and then a therapy period, the Sibleys are back home in Oregon working toward throwing away props like walkers and crutches. Lud reports that he expects to be "back in business-as-usual for next year's AWA -- wherever it is."
Top to bottom: a Philco 70 cathedral selling at $210; an Atwater Kent 206 that was passed (see print edition); and a Majestic 290 selling at $260.
The annual guided sightseeing tour to the Corning Museum of Glass was a highlight for some on Friday. The museum recently had a $60 million dollar renovation and was worth a second look by those who had visited it before. A visit to Corning's Rockwell Museum was also offered, as well as lunch at one of several historic restaurants and many shopping choices -- a pleasure for family members looking for a break from the radio scene.
Both the Awards banquet on Friday and the finale luncheon on Saturday were well attended. But, of course, the real center of interest always came back to the auctions.
The communications auction, conducted by Ed Gable as usual, is noted for both its amusing banter and knowledgeable comments from Ed, the Ham gear expert. About 52 items were presented, which is about average. Nine were no-sales when they did not meet sellers reserves. However, some buyers reconsidered, as several no-sales were seen to be changing hands immediately after the auction. Total communications auction sales were $2,300, down 24% from last year.
On Thursday night, the tube auction offered 113 lots, up from last year's 105. However, the proceeds at $6,376 were down from last year's $9,203. The high-ticket items were WE tubes -- a WE-101F and WE-102F selling at $599 and a WE-350B at $400. WD-11s sold for from $32 to $35 each. No Spherical Audions showed up at all this year.
A nice lineup in the flea market. Front: a U.S. Gloritone, left, and two Philco Model 86s. Rear: left, a Majestic 310A and an Emerson tombstone in an Ingraham cabinet.
The paper and advertising auction had several outstanding entries enabling the total of $4,796.50 to exceed last year's total of $2,286 by 110%! Highlights were the NBC photo album at $725, 22 early issues of Radio News at $575, and a Thomas A. Edison banner at $425.
Among the highlights of the general auction were a Patterson PR15, with documentation, selling at $400; an excellent Federal 61 at $1,300; a Madison-Moore superhet kit at $1,900; a Mercury Super 10 at $1,100; a Northern Electric R-4 at $1,050; an Atwater Kent 5 on a smaller Atwater Kent board at $2,250; a wooden Amplion 6301 horn speaker at $575; and an Amplion AR-114 petal bell speaker at $725. The general auction total was $26,134.50, down 23% from last year's total of $34,029.
The total for all auctions was $39,607, down from last year's $48,656 by 19 percent and continuing a downward pattern in attendance and auction activity. Other major meets have not experienced such broad downturns several years in a row, so we can only hope that, as the current Chairman Bruce Roloson has indicated, everything that has been wrong with the meet will be fixed. With the hotel change, the time is right to address all the problems of recent years.
This Federal Model 61 in nice condition had a price tag of $1,475 in the flea market.
(See print edition for auction listing.)
Information on joining the Antique Wireless Association (AWA) may be obtained from Joyce Peckham, Box E, Breesport, NY 14816. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. AWA publishes "The OTB" quarterly and holds regional meets, in addition to the annual conference. Annual dues: one year, $15; 2 years, $27; overseas, $18.
Photo credits: Ray Bintliff and John V. Terrey.
(Larry Babcock, 8095 Centre Ln., East Amherst, NY 14051; Ray Chase, 1350 Marlborough Ave., Plainfield, NJ 07060; John V. Terrey, c/o A.R.C., P.O. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741.)