Antique Radio Club of Illinois
Radiofest XXVI August 2-4, 2007
Reported BY DANIEL SCHOO
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois (ARCI) 26th annual Radiofest was hosted by the Willowbrook Holiday Inn Conference Center in Willowbrook, Illinois. The hotel is easily accessible at its suburban location about 25 miles southwest of Chicago's O'Hare airport. It is on Illinois Route 83, Kingery Highway, just a short distance north of Interstate 55.
The Willowbrook Holiday Inn was an improvement in location this year with its much more comfortable environment. The weather, always a concern for outdoor events, was beautiful with warm sunny days for the entire duration. The tree-lined parking lot with a landscaped island, grassy areas, and angled borders provided an atmosphere more like a friendly company picnic. In addition a beautiful outdoor pool surrounded by a nicely landscaped courtyard with trees and flowers made the event more enjoyable.
There were lots and lots...
...and lots of radios at Radiofest 2007!
On Thursday, August 2, preregistration began at 4 p.m. This year the main auction was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening outdoors in the hospitality tent, and it continued for more than two hours. Former ARCI president Harry Blesy was the auctioneer.
The auction attracted 122 bidders on 110 lots for a total of $11,280 in gross sales making it one of the most successful in several years. The top selling item was a rare model Philco Predicta television closing at $1,200. After the auction, the club supplied free pizza for attendees at the opening party, and everyone had a great time.
Donna and I arrived early Friday morning about 6:20 a.m. to find a flurry of flea market activity. A sellout of 215 seller spaces was up significantly from 202 at the previous location last year. Registration opened at 7 a.m., and as always, the general public was welcome to come in for flea market shopping at no charge. This year I saw a wonderful selection of collectible radios, everything from Zenith "Walton" sets, Fada bullets, chrome chassis Scotts, and even a Zenith Stratosphere for sale. There was no shortage of the more affordable sets either.
The ARCI hospitality tent supplied tables and a shady place to sit down. Our favorite hostess Janet "cookie lady" LaVelle hosted the hospitality tent again this year with cold drinks, chips, cookies and other goodies, all for a free-will donation. The Holiday Inn also had its own tent with coffee and an assortment of sweet rolls for breakfast and the typical outdoor cookout style food for lunch at an attractive price.
A pair of Emerson Snow White radios offered for $5,500 at Harrison Smith's table.
An eye-catching lineup at Gino Pickerign's table -- three Majestic theme radios: left to right, a Rudolph, a Charlie McCarthy, and a Lone Ranger, offered for $1,250, $1,000, and $1,250 respectively.
Jim Novak, WA9FIH, coordinated the special event Amateur Radio station KC9IEQ. Ed Schumacher, WA9GQK, and Chris Farley, KC9IEQ, provided equipment, and along with Dale Svetanoff, WA9ENA, took turns in the shack. They made 62 contacts on 75, 40, 20 and 2 meters during the event. This was about double the number of contacts made last year. The club owes a special thanks to the Amateur operators who worked so hard.
George Wilder provided his expertise at the radio appraisal tent. The appraisal service is for anyone from the general public who brings in a radio and wants to know its approximate worth. The club also hosted a Boy Scout merit badge program again this year for badges in radio and collections. This is an excellent opportunity for scouts to get merit badge credit from experts in the field and have a good time doing it.
The popular old equipment contest registered 33 entries. Among the several rare and unusual entries were a 1909 Gebruder Bing Model 10201 spark coil transmitter/coherer receiver set; a one-of-a-kind, 1935, RCA laboratory, developmental, iconoscope tube; and a 1928 Golden-Leutz Universal Transoceanic Phantom screen grid TRF receiver in restored working condition. Public viewing began at 5 p.m. and continued until 9 p.m.
In the contest, a Motorola TV with an old Jackie Gleason episode playing on the screen.
The regular series of radio-related presentations in the main ballroom attracted between 35 and 45 people and covered several interesting topics. Dr. Alexander Magoun, Executive Director of the David Sarnoff Library in Princeton, New Jersey, outlined the history of RCA's development of all electronic television. He covered the work of the RCA research staff led by Vladimir Zworykin, including the development of the iconoscope camera tube. He also described the David Sarnoff Library and the recent flooding disaster that water-damaged thousands of irreplaceable historical documents. Details may be found at www.davidsarnoff.org. Information on sending contributions to help recover these documents can be found there.
This is an unusual entry -- a 1930s Stewart-Warner Dionne Quintuplets radio in an ivory cabinet with decals. Yes, it is "factory"!
In the next presentation, Bob Dobush discussed the various aspects of tube collecting. Using many samples and original advertising displays, he gave an interesting history of some of the obscure types, the manufacturers who made them, and how they fit into the early radio business. He gave some interesting tips; for example, the use of marine varnish for regluing loose bases. He also recommended tube testers, such as the popular Hickok models for determining whether a particular tube is good.
Peter Yanzcer, noted authority on mechanical television, introduced the audience to a history of the people and the work they did in early electromechanical television systems. Before camera tubes and electronic scanning methods were invented, early systems used mechanical scanning techniques with very limited resolution and sensitivity. Intense light and the associated unbearable heat from the lamps were necessary to get the most rudimentary live images.
Yanczer demonstrated two of his home-built televisors, one having 48 lines of resolution, and the other, a 24-line device. Using a digital scan converter, Yanczer fascinated the audience by playing a modern DVD disk on each of the two televisors. Necks craned to see the dim barely recognizable images that the devices produced. Yanczer gave us a rare look into the past with his recreations.
Bret Menassa, an authority on radio restoration and a leading producer of restoration video tutorials, covered a subject near to every collectors heart -- the means of restoring aged and damaged radio cabinets.
For the ladies, Janet LaVelle hosted 23 guests for the Ladies Luncheon at noon in the hotel restaurant. Janet provided individual door prizes for everyone. Always the gracious hostess, Janet knows how to throw a good party.
An RCA coin-operated hotel radio from 1946 to 1950. A 25¢ coin in the slot on the rear right corner of the top of the radio would buy 30 minutes of your favorite songs.
Close to 100 guests attended the banquet this year. The banquet speaker, Rebecca Schreiner, Director of the Western Electric Hawthorne Works Museum at Morton College in Cicero, Illinois, presented a history of the famous Hawthorne Works. She described how it was built, what was done there, and who the workers were. She also told us about the museum and the Western Electric artifacts and products that are showcased there. This is an incredible place for anyone interested in telephone equipment history and development.
The banquet meal and service were a big improvement over last year. Following the dinner, the guests were treated to the West End Jazz Band who played a mix of swing dance music and Dixieland. Harry Blesy joined in as a twenties radio announcer in a re-creation of a live radio broadcast of dance music complete with commercials. Yowza-yowza! The evening closed with the special presentation of a Laurel and Hardy silent film accompanied by the band playing jazz selections appropriate to the genre.
Saturday morning the flea market was still quite active. The donation auction was even better than it was last year with a vast assortment of various console and small radios, TV sets, tubes, parts, books, records, tapes, and other mysterious, intriguing things. The club took in a record $982.
Once again Radiofest was a tremendous success. The beautiful weather, the excellent attendance, the quality of service from the hotel staff, and the vital help of so many volunteers working together made this year's Radiofest one of the best ever. As with every Radiofest, we are always looking for ways to improve, especially when moving to a new location. This year is no exception, and we hope that Radiofest will be even better next year.
e=excellent, vg=very good, g=good, f=fair, p=poor, wk=working, nwk=not working, WT=with tubes, NT=no tubes, PS=power supply, WE=Western Electric. All prices have been rounded down to the dollar. Some low cost items and items in poor condition or nonspecific descriptions are omitted. See print version of A.R.C. for complete auction listing.
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois, (ARCI) publishes "ARCI Update" periodically and "ARCI Newsletter" monthly. Dues are $15. Events include the annual August Radiofest and bimonthly swap meets. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.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.