Antique Wireless Association
Conference and Auction Report
Rochester, New York -- August 22-26, 2007
REPORTED BY RAY CHASE WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM LARRY BABCOCK,
JIM MONEGHAN, JOHN V. TERREY, and the AWA
The 46th AWA conference was held August 22-26, 2007, at the RIT Conference Center, Rochester, New York, and followed the schedule initiated last year. Registration opened on Wednesday, and though vendors could park in the flea market area, selling was not permitted until the grand opening on Thursday morning. The main auction was on Saturday, leaving Sunday for a museum tour.
Flea market preregistration was for 210 spots, exceeding last year's numbers; however, the forecast for rain for all four days was an obvious deterrent to attendance. On Thursday, for example, there were probably only two 1-hour periods when the rain let up. Unfortunately, there were numerous flea market no-shows.
Nevertheless, the 496 registrants enjoyed the indoor sessions, and A.R.C. for one did very good business in the "Book Fair" room just off the lobby. In past years we have set up both indoors and outdoors, but the weather always has the last word.
New this year was opening the flea market to the general public, though it was not advertised as such. Still, this is a step in the right direction, as it encourages wider interest in radio collecting. It also created a friendlier atmosphere, as there were no hired security guards checking badges at check points as in the past. Of course, AWA membership was required for a flea market table and for entrance to all the meet events, and this year that privilege was extended to ARRL members. In all, AWA is increasing its outreach to potentially new members who will be the future of this great avocation.
The meet started with a bang on Wednesday as members gathered to register and then to join in a "Mixer" with a cash bar and hors 'doeuvres. Tom Perera's seminar on Phil Weingarten's replicas followed and was well attended. Many brought examples of replicas built by Phil and, to the inexperienced eye, they look surprisingly authentic. However, it's always a concern that once a replica gets sold, a future inexperienced buyer might purchase it as an original. On the other hand, any collector who purchases a significant item should be experienced enough to recognize a replica.
Jim Moneghan from Rhode Island, touts his old radio wares in the flea market. Rear, left to right, is a Western Electric 4-D, a Federal 57, an AirWay Type F and a Federal panel set. In front, left to right is a Western Electric 7-A, a Crosley 51 and a Clapp Eastham DD.
Other seminars were also well received. Peter Yanczer can always be relied on to bring in an interesting television topic. This time it was TV in 1928. Alex Magoun offered a broader view of TV historical history in a later seminar.
In keeping with the theme of "One hundred Years of Electronic Communications," Lauren Peckham and Felicia Kreuzer moderated a discussion and display of items shown by members. This theme is so broad that the club incorporated it into the usual standard contest categories, rather than have a separate contest theme. The contest, in turn, had very good participation, and one observer called the number of early and unique items displayed as "fantastic."
Merrill Bancroft entered this Atwater Kent 4066 breadboard in the old equipment contest. It was Atwater Kent's first 5-tube radio.
Though there were fewer flea market vendors than last year, some collectors thought that the quality of the items offered was better. For example, Jim Moneghan reported seeing several very nice early battery sets, as well as five Federal 57s. Furthermore, he found a vacuum tube that he'd been looking for over 20 years -- a real success story.
Jim also touted the Book Fair as one of the highlights of the show because it offered so many quality paper items from folks like Jerry Simkin, Ray Chase, and A.R.C. It was a great place to gather with old friends for an old-fashioned chat.
The museum was open for two-hour periods on both Thursday and Sunday. Though it will take a few years to make the transfer of all the items from the present display building and the Annex, the museum's new home will be right across the street from the current Annex. The new facility is much larger than the old and is handicapped accessible.
The auction on Saturday was once again conducted by Richard Estes assisted by his brother John and by Bob Dobush who organized the tube portion. Starting at 8:30 a.m., all three sections -- tubes, paper and equipment -- were done in that order.
The number of lots offered was fewer than last year by about 20 percent, and the total realized was about $32,300, down about 15 percent. Interestingly, the highflyers were specialty items, such as a Weingarten Fleming valve replica, selling at $1,900; a bust of Marconi, at $1,500; a Ducretet spark coil at $1,550; and a Rockwell KWM-380, at $1,600. Individual prices seemed to be on the low side. By conclusion at around 2:30 p.m., about 325 lots had crossed the block.
AWA auctions peaked in 1997/1998 and have been on a steady decline since then. They currently yield about one-half the volume and value as they did nine or ten years ago.
However, this is still an enjoyable meet where camaraderie is a primary ingredient. The accommodations continue to approve, but the hotel rooms still have a way to go to transition from college dormitory standards to hotel standards. If only the weather would cooperate, the conference could be as successful as in the past.
Next year's dates are August 20 to 23, continuing with the shifted schedule which places the flea market opening on Thursday morning, the banquet on Friday night and the auction on Saturday.
Abbreviations: e=excellent, vg=very good, g=good, f=fair, p=poor, unk=unknown condition, N.O.S.=new old stock, N.I.B.=new in box, wk=working, nwk=not working, WT=with tubes, NT=no tubes, BB=brass based, gf=good filament, TT=tipped tube, SW=shortwave, PS=power supply, PB=push buttons, WE=Western Electric, HC=hard cover. All prices have been rounded down to the dollar. Some low cost items and items in poor condition or non-specific descriptions are omitted. See print version of A.R.C. for complete auction listing.
(Antique Wireless Association (AWA), P.O. Box 421, Bloomfield, NY 14460. AWA publishes the "AWA Journal" quarterly. Dues are $20 (USA), $25 (elsewhere). It holds an annual conference and regional meets and supports a museum. www.antiquewireless.org )
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.
This 3-panel set from was part of Bob Dobush's exhibit of Cleveland, Ohio, area radios in the old equipment contest. The set consists of, left to right, a tuner, a double crystal detector and a 2-stage audio amplifier.
This bust of Marconi brought $1,500 in the auction.
Lauren Peckham entered his rare Mignon RC2 short-wave regenerative receptor in the contest.
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.