Estes Auctions--Danny Gustafson Estate
Burbank, Ohio--October 25, 2003
Contributed by Ray Chase
Attending the now monthly Estes auctions is like finding a new radio museum every month. The big plus is that you can get up close to the artifacts, pick them up, examine them closely and, if you so desire, even buy them. This month, the "museum" theme was definitely RCA, as the long-term collection of the late Danny Gustafson of Chicago was offered for sale. Danny had amassed the largest RCA collection that this writer has seen, and the extent of the advertising signage, clocks, banners and unusual RCA radios was overwhelming.
The walls of the auction gallery were adorned with clocks, banners and all types of signs. Unusual items included many scarce novelty radios, a host of Catalins, seldom seen RCA South American-made sets, several "new in the box or crate" early RCA battery sets, three original "mirror radios," and an early possible RCA prototype. There was also a nearly mint prewar TRK television, probably in working condition.
The large quantity of Catalins produced the usual, pre-auction, detailed examination of each radio searching for the extent of the usual flaws and microscopic cracks in the cases. One Catalin with a very pronounced crack sold in the auction for $300, and shortly thereafter, when the buyer picked it up, he complained that he did not realize that it had a crack. Richard Estes took the item back and resold it; this time it brought $350. Go figure!!
The highlight of the auction was the RCA TRK-12 pre-World War II television with the mirror in the lid, which sold for $14,000.
Another auction highlight was this Emerson "Mae West" selling at $4,000.
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.
This auction was unique in not having any of the usual military, Ham, or transistor items scattered throughout the auction; the RCA material clearly dominated the event. Many of the advertising items drew high prices, and many private radio rooms will soon be decorated with these goodies. The top selling item was the RCA TRK-12 TV that sold for $14,000. Many other items drew top dollar, such as the Emerson "Mae West" for $4,000, the Vasso designed RCA tombstone for $3,800, the Radiola VIIB for $5,000 and an imperfect RCA "Golden Gate" radio for $4,500. The sale total was over $171,000.
The auction format was the usual, starting at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday with viewing from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Viewing was also possible from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday. Additional consignments were still coming in on Saturday morning. Over 550 lots were handled, and I may have missed a few and did not record the last 30 minutes or so when the last of the box lots, parts and large tube lots straggle through. The 5 percent buyer's premium is not included in the prices below. Prices have been rounded down to the dollar. Also, some low cost items and models lacking description have been omitted.
This Marconi V2A, the long-range model, in very good condition, sold with tubes for $700.
This RCA Radiola VIIB sold for $5,000.
This RCA 6T10 in a Vassos-designed cabinet sold for $3,800.
The auction listing has been loosely categorized into tubes, advertising and paper, novelty and character, and general items. See print version of A.R.C. for complete auction listing.
e=excellent, vg=very good, g=good, f=fair, p=poor, WT=with tubes, NT=no tubes, BB=brass-based, TT=tipped, N.I.B.=new in box, N.O.S.=new old stock, wk=working, nwk=not working, gf=good fil
(Ray Chase, 1350 Marlborough Ave., Plainfield, NJ 07060; Estes Auctions, 404 Ryan Rd., Medina, OH 44256; (330) 469-4002; firstname.lastname@example.org)