Antique Wireless Association
Conference and Auction Report
Rochester, New York -- August 20-23, 2009
REPORTED BY RAY CHASE WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM JOHN V. TERREY AND THE AWA
The 48th Antique Wireless Association (AWA) Conference was held August 20-23 at the RIT Inn and Conference Center in Rochester, New York. Registration began on Thursday at 5 a.m. and though parking was permitted in the flea market area, selling was not permitted officially until Friday morning. However, some dealers did set up to sell without any "policing" by the AWA.
Although the first presentation was on Thursday evening, Friday was the grand opening day and activities continued through Sunday, encompassing the whole weekend. The auction was the close-out event on Sunday and finished at 3 p.m. This was a shift in scheduling from previous years when activities started on Wednesday and ended on Saturday. Most people appreciated not having to take as many weekdays off work to attend the meet as in the past. There was some reshuffling of club personnel and their roles and a few problems along the way, but in general a good time was had by all.
Total attendance as reported by the AWA was 417, slightly up from last year's total of 402. It appears that the AWA was successful in counteracting several years of a downward trend in attendance. Dropping the requirement of AWA membership may have been a factor since 44 of the attendees were not members.
Merrill Bancroft entered this dual-unit Elmco set, a Model S-1 Tuner and a Model A-3 Amplifier. Elmco, the Electric Machine Corp., was located in Indianapolis, Ind. A copy of a Radio Digest Illustrated from 1922/23 with an article featuring the set was included in the display. This was a First Place contest winner!
Entered in the contest by Merrill Bancroft, this rare National Airphone Radiotrola Baby Grand, pictured above, is the only example of this set that he has seen. Displayed along with a October, 1924, advertisement in Radio News, this was a First Place contest winner.
This operating Zenith Model G2340R, a 12-inch black and white television set from 1949-50 was entered in the contest by Raymond Sieracki. This so-called "port hole" set featured a "duo-picture" control where one could choose either a "giant circle" or smaller, rectangular picture, similar to our multi-format choices today with a high-def screen. The set was displayed along with a dealer's catalog and a Zenith line brochure. This was another First Place contest winner.
The weather prediction for most of the event was dire, indeed, mostly forecasting rain. Fortunately, the predictions were largely wrong, and the rain that did occur did not cause too much disruption. Knowing that rain might be a problem, the organizers took a new tack and erected a very large tent in the parking lot for flea market vendors. As usual, assigned vendor spots were marked by chalk on the macadam, but a very heavy rain on Thursday night washed out most of them. The result was a bit of confusion on Friday.
Friday morning was clear and most vendors took their assigned spots, so the tent was largely empty. However, a few small showers during the morning sent them scurrying to the shelter of the tent, and many stayed there for the rest of the meet. The remainder of the weekend had mostly clear weather so some vendors opened up back on the macadam.
AWA officials reported that flea market spaces sold were up this year. Paul Farmer's count on the first morning of the flea market was 111 this year, up from his count last year of 88. [Unfortunately, last year we credited another "Farmer," instead of Paul with the flea market count. We apologize to Paul.] Still, there were vast barren areas on the parking lot. Nevertheless, the tent area remained full, and officials vowed to keep this benefit for next year.
The book fair returned to its original location in the assembly court, much to the relief of the participants, and good traffic on Friday and part of Saturday resulted. However, the major bobble in the event was the hotel's scheduling of a large wedding and reception in the same area as the book fair from late Saturday afternoon through the evening. This caused huge disruptions to the book fair, as vendors had to pack up and leave the area on Saturday. Although they could set up again on Sunday morning, few did.
In general, the wedding interfered with the uninterrupted use of the space usually occupied by the AWA. Though registration took place in the ballroom as expected, items for the auction could not be left there. Instead, they were crammed into two small rooms that made viewing difficult. They then had to be moved to the ballroom for the auction on Sunday. Initially, this caused the auction input to be smaller than usual. On Sunday morning, more items came in, but then, there was less time to look them over.
Apparently, the AWA was aware of the "double booking" by the hotel, but the book fair vendors were not advised in advance. Obviously, a great deal of frustration resulted.
The seminars are always a highlight of this event, and reports were that they were up to their usual quality and professionalism. Tom Perera made the first presentation on Thursday night accompanied by a guest speaker, Virginia Utermohlen-Lovelace. Their subject was "Disappearing Wireless History." Utermohlen-Lovelace is the granddaughter of Jack Binns, the wireless operator who triggered the first radio/sea rescue by using radio communications when his ship the Republic collided with the Florida in 1909. Tom also moderated the Key and Telegraph seminar with participants David Bart, Roger Buttingnol, Vince Thompson, and Gil Schlehman.
The "Authors and Editors Get-Together" was an informal program to discuss ideas for articles in the AWA Review and the AWA Journal. New ideas are always welcome in hope of attracting new readers to these publications. The title of Steve Goldstein's seminar "True Confessions of a Heathkit Addict" was an attention-getter, but no matter what the title, there's much to learn at every one of the AWA seminars.
The contest was also up to its excellent standards. The theme was kit radios and the entries varied greatly from a DeForest 15-panel receiver to Philmore, Knight, Heathkit, and other makes. Even a Heathkit EC-1 analog computer showed up.
Although a ladies' luncheon was not scheduled this year, many complaints from the distaff side caused the hasty organization of a luncheon by the ladies themselves for Saturday. The conference organizers learned a lesson here: "Do not dis the ladies," and promised that the luncheon would be back on the schedule next year.
The highlight of the banquet, attended by 119 diners, was Tom Peterson's presentation reviewing the plans for the new museum building complex. In the next few years, the move into the first-class museum will take place. Included will be an auditorium/radio studio for presentations, some staged as if in an early radio studio. An important component is the library, which has received major funding from Max Bodner who was honored during the event. Visitors can look forward to entering the museum as if walking through a giant Sparton blue mirror radio.
Shelter from the weather was welcome under the large tent.
As for the auction, its being held on Sunday caused quite a lot of consternation as some attendees needed Sunday to return home. In spite of this, the attendance held up fairly well. Conducted again by Richard and John Estes and supported by AWA volunteers, it got off to a late start at 9:25 a.m. As already indicated, late arrivals of more merchandise, as well as last minute viewing, seemed to be the cause of the delay.
Geoffrey Bourne entered this Educational Hobby Kit in the equipment contest. With the Electronics No. 1 kit, you could build a two-tube radio receiver.
This year the auction started with paper goods and that went quickly. A good selection of tubes, with quite a few foreign types, was then offered. In the general auction that followed the most significant item was an American Marconi 4V 4-step audio amplifier that sold for $4,400. As usual there were quite a few (19) no-sale items where the buyer's reserve was not met.
In all, it was a fairly average sale with some bargains to be obtained here and there. Box lots were of higher quality than usual. Some buyers must have spent the time to examine the contents rather thoroughly since several sold for over $100. Examples: 30 to 40 tubes in cartons sold for $200; a large box of tubes, including (16) 01-As sold for $165, a large box of brass-based 201s, 80s, 27s, and 51s sold for $145; a box of 99s & WD-11s, etc., sold for $150; and a box that included many audio transformers sold for $190. These lots are not included in the listing below.
The number of items was 311, with 25 no-sale items. An official total of $25,295 was realized, somewhat less than the $28,000 in 2008 and considerably less than the $32,000 in 2007. These numbers are well down from the high points of 10 years ago. The auction may have suffered mainly from the confusion with the wedding the evening before and also from being held on Sunday. Maybe next year things will be better organized. See print version of A.R.C. for complete auction listing.
Abbreviations: e=excellent, vg=very g, g=g, 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.
This RCA La Siesta radio was marked at $575 in the flea market.
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.
The Antique Wireless Association (AWA) publishes "The AWA Journal Quarterly" and "The AWA Review" annually. Dues are $20 U.S.A.; $25 elsewhere. The association holds a national annual conference and regional meets and maintains a museum. P.O. Box 421, Bloomfield, NY 14469. www.antiquewireless.org.
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.