Kutztown Antique Radio Meet
Kutztown, Pennsylvania September 16-17, 2005
REPORTED BY JOHN HAGMAN
As is my habit, I attended the renowned Kutztown, Pennsylvania, radio flea market put on by the Delaware Valley Historic Radio Club (DVHRC) in September. I camped out at Promised Land State Park in the Poconos Thursday night, as it is a bit too long a drive to make it in one stretch from Vermont. I arrived a bit before noon Friday, and although a few dealers had set up already, it was a relaxed arrival. I delayed setting up myself while I perused what was out for sale. Nothing too promising turned up, so I began unpacking and setting up my own table.
At these events one is immediately set upon by swap jackals who are arriving with a new load of carrion -- errr, radio stuff. As a warning to newbies, any quick interest shown by another dealer while you're unpacking always means you underpriced the item. Don't lower your price unless you really want a quick sale and don't mind seeing it on his table that afternoon. Your price tag will have been torn off and not replaced though, as sharks never put prices on things.
I sold the Wurlitzer console I brought quite soon. It had a nice lacquer job I had applied and a military grade chassis restoration by good friend Dennis. These sets are pretty rare so I knew it wouldn't last long. By late afternoon I still hadn't bought anything, but I'd sold about a third of my stuff.
Between sales, I had a great time talking with Keith Park and a few of our hosts from the DVHRC, as well as Bruce and Charlotte Mager from "Waves" in Manhattan.
The weather was warm for mid-September; in fact, it was warm enough for a fan, but I had forgotten to bring one. I went out for dinner and also shopped for a fan, but couldn't find one for sale so late in the year, at least in Kutztown. After I returned, I sat out in the field where I had set up camp in the van a ways out from the market shelter. The dogs ran about in the full moonlight as I sipped a brew. It was breezy and 75°. What a life!
MA view of the flea market offerings under cover.
But that night we did get some heavy rains. These fortunately cleared by 6 a.m. or so when I emerged to uncover my table. About 8 a.m. I bought a nice clean Silvertone 4587 console (compact, eye tube, 10 tubes, gold foil dial) from a new arrival for all of $80. A little later, I found something I've wanted for years but couldn't previously afford -- an outside horn phonograph. It's got a broken spring and needs a few other little things, but for $175, it was a steal.
There wasn't a whole lot though of what I usually come to a swap looking for -- high-end wooden sets needing a bit of work. But as my collection has grown, I have become far, far pickier, so this isn't really surprising. There was a bunch of fixer-upper, lower end consoles cheap, and plenty of "eye candy," such as nice Catalin and other fancy sets to admire. And there certainly were plenty of bargains in nice table sets too. I bought a Plant A, gold foil, series-string table model later in the day for $25 as a gift set.
The auction proceeds this year went entirely to Katrina victims via the Red Cross. So when a bit less than half my stuff hadn't sold by late morning Saturday, it was an easy decision to donate most of what remained. I had dinner plans with a good friend well north of New York City, and couldn't stay for the auction this year. But it was a great relief as always to have the auction as an outlet for those things you just don't want to haul back.
The Waves crew at Kutztown.
All in all, it was as always a great time. Thanks a million to the DVHRC and the folks at Renningers. Be sure to get your table for next spring reserved by mid- to late winter -- the good spaces go fast and early. Go to http://www.renningers.com, and look under "Kutztown Special Events."
(John Hagman, 781 Mechanicsville Rd., Hinesburg, VT 05461. "Hagstar" firstname.lastname@example.org)