Antique Radio Classified
A.R.C.--The National Publication For Buyers And Sellers
Of Old Radios And Related Items--Published Monthly

Antique Wireless Association
Conference and Auction Report
Rochester, New York -- August 28-31, 2002



The Antique Wireless Association (AWA) held its 41st annual historical radio conference at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Inn and Conference Center, formerly the Thruway Marriott, in Rochester, New York, August 28-31, 2002. Registered attendees numbered 825, continuing a downward trend from 854 in 2001 and from 981 in 2000.

In general, AWA and RIT continue to try to make do with what is really a remnant of a hotel. Some of the old staff are still there and worked hard at being responsive. However, the accommodations reflect what they now are -- dormitory rooms. Two beds, student desks, bare walls awaiting student posters, all smack of college days. The dining room is now a cafeteria, and though the food was edible, it was reminiscent of a military chow line and far from average hotel quality. One improvement was that the front section of the bar was open on a limited basis for the social gatherings so essential to the success of a major meet.

Another was the new, professional looking sign, compared to last year's makeshift cardboard job. Unfortunately, it contained the same cold message restricting the flea market to AWA members only -- another opportunity lost to attract new members and buyers.

An unusual personal experience led me to conclude that the need for improvement in basic room security has become critical. One afternoon, I found a woman, who had been reported missing for an hour, asleep in my room. This, of course, was a serious breach of security, as the housekeeping staff admitted they they had let her into the room.

Since AWA uses off-duty police for patrolling the flea market, the same must be done for the hotel. Considering the valubles necessarily left by collectors in their rooms, the club has to deal with security issues in a facility that is no longer a full-scale hotel.

Unfortunately, there was no sign of change from previous years in the way the meet was scheduled. In fact, "meet creep" in the opposite direction was even more evident. Instead of moving events toward the weekend, registration for the flea market opened on Tuesday. Since there was no patrol of premeet sales, about a dozen vendors were already in business on Tuesday.

In additon, the Tube Collectors Association met on Tuesday, and anyone was welcome to attend. Though AWA has no control over the Tube Association's plan, which is, no doubt, convenient for its members, the Tuesday meeting drains from AWA. Many who come for Tuesday are apt to cut off a day at the end and leave early.

An Atwater Kent Model 10 breadboard
An Atwater Kent Model 10 breadboard for sale in the flea market.

Flea market sellers numbered 288, but, of course, not everyone opened up at the same time. In my annual walk-around the flea market, I counted 196 sellers on Wednesday, up a little from last year's 189. On Thursday, the drop to 112 from 196, and even from last year's 148, was precipitous. Ironically, when I mentioned this to an AWA official, his reponse was, "That's good. We didn't have a parking problem."

Surely, lower attendance isn't the solution for a club with a parking problem. Ironically, although parking spaces were available, attendees staying at other hotels were unable to use them and had to rely on the shuttle busses. Is AWA in the business of encouraging or discouraging attendance?

Though Friday was a beautiful day, most of the flea market vendors had left. By Saturday, the day when the general public might have been there in large numbers, the area was empty. In general, the number of vendors pleased with the results of their sales seemed to balance out with those who were displeased and said they were considering not coming next year.

The seminars were well attended, beginning with the Members' Forum, which included discussion of any number of issues. Later topics ranged from early wireless and cone speakers to Amateur radio and the Enigma Cipher Machine. The Ladies Tea in the Hotel Gazebo was a pleasant interlude for the radio wives and friends. However, the sightseeing trip was cancelled because of limited interest.

Fifty years of AWA as a theme for the old equipment contest inspired interesting entries, although there appeared to be a reduction in quantity from past years. An item had to have won a blue ribbon in the past to qualify as an entry. Most colorful was Norm Hertz's red, white and blue American crystal set.

Among the other outstanding entries pictured throughout this report were an early 1939 TV camera, a Swedish crystal set, a 1914 Bowman time receiver used by watch makers to receive time by wireless, an early Zenith Trans-Oceanic, and a DeForest RJ4 with spherical Audion. Well known as a collector of Italian radios, Bob Lozier presented an exceptional 1934 exhibit.

Missing, of course, from the contest activities was the late Ralph Williams, for so long the driving force behind this event. Ralph knew how to plan wisely for the future, and for several years he had been grooming Jeff Byrne for the job. Jeff gradually took over, and Ralph moved to the background, knowing the contest was in good hands. We would all profit from Ralph's example.

The auction events showed a continuing decline from previous years. The bottom line this year was $31,568, down 17 percent from last year, and probably closer to 22 percent if you consider that communications equipment did not have a separate auction. From the heydays of 1997 and 1998, the auction take is down greater than 50 percent. If one were to factor in inflation, the slide would indeed be precipitous.

Zenith TransOceanic, the Model 7G605
This display of the first Zenith TransOceanic, the Model 7G605, made an impressive contest entry. It is often called the "Bomber" model, although earlier sets appeared with a sailboat design.


This Grebe CR-9, complete with brass-based, tipped tubes, sold for $600.

Certainly the Internet is a factor but this is too easy an answer, and any CEO viewing trends like these would be alarmed and thus trying new approaches. Otherwise, he would soon be looking for another job. The individual categories work out as follows: tubes, down over 25 percent from last year, 65 percent from peak; paper, down 25 percent from last year; equipment, down 15 percent from last year, down 44 percent from peak. The number of lots involved is, of course, well down, indicating a drop off in quantity as well, but not as much as the dollar total

The registration and viewing of 398 auction lots went very smoothly due to plenty of volunteers to handle input and a reduced level of traffic. The Thursday morning communications/Ham auction had been eliminated, so some of these types of items appeared in the general equipment auction on Friday. The Thursday evening tube auction was conducted by Bruce Roloson as usual and took only one and a half hours to complete. There were no spherical Audions, and the highest bid of $400 was for a lot of four KT-88 audio tubes.

Walt Buffinton started the paper portion of the auction at 9 A.M. on Friday and dispensed with all paper lots in one hour. The highlight, though not really a paper item, was a wooden jointed doll advertising GE, which most people had never seen before. This item, similar to the RCA Radiotron jointed doll, was decorated as a drum major. It was in excellent condition and drew a final bid of $1,000.

there were Catalins!
Yes, Virginia, there were Catalins! That is quite obvious in this photo taken in the flea market.

Sarah, the new Mrs. Terrey
Sarah, the new Mrs. Terrey, admiring the 1939 World's Fair TV camera for station WTIP.

the rare 1939 World's Fair TV camera
A view inside the rare 1939 World's Fair TV camera showing its tube layout.

No really rare or outstanding items were included in the equipment auction. Several big dollar items were passed due to high reserves, but the ratio of passed lots was not greater than in past auctions. The highest bid of $2,200 was for a Grebe CR-18 with tubes and coils. Other high flyers were a spectacular Ozarka 299 suitcase portable for $800 and an RCA AA-485 2-tube audio amp for $1,400. Our Canadian friends contributed some nice items, including a Rogers hi-fi amp and preamp for $800 and a Mercury Super 10 for $700. The auction ended just before 2:30 P.M. All prices are rounded down to the nearest dollar (see print version). Some low cost items deleted.

a Radiorurale
Europe was represented in the contest with this prize winning entry of a Radiorurale -- the radio receiver for Italians from 1934 to 1942.


An intriguing contest entry -- a World War II German Enigma cypher machine.

Photos: John V. Terrey

(Ray Chase, 1350 Marlborough Ave., Plainfield, NJ 07060; Ludwell Sibley, 102 McDonough Rd., Gold Hill, OR 97525-9626; and John V. Terrey, c/o A.R.C., P.O. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741)

Information on joining the Antique Wireless Association (AWA) may be obtained from Joyce Peckham, Box E, Breesport, NY 14816. E-mail: 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.

The Kodel "Microphone" speaker.
Figure 9. The Kodel "Microphone" speaker.

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