Michigan Antique Radio Club
Lansing, Michigan -- July 7-9, 2006
REPORTED BY MARK OPPAT
Although MARC (very apologetically) submitted this report just a few weeks ago, we are pleased that we have been able to rush it to publication before MARC's next event. Perhaps after reading about Extravaganza 2006, you will add Extravaganza 2007 to your July travel schedule. (Editor)
The Michigan Antique Radio Club (MARC) hosted its 21st annual Extravaganza in Lansing, Michigan, July 7 thru 9, 2006. It is one of the largest antique radio events in the U. S., and this year was no different, with collectors and dealers coming from all over the U.S. and Canada. The weather was great Michigan summer weather, with lows in the mid-50s and highs in the upper 70s. The location was the Holiday Inn South, where Extravaganza has been located since 1993.
The Flea Market
Nearly 200 parking spaces were sold for flea market selling, as well as 55 tables under the huge tent in the center of the lot. Also under the "Big Top" tent was the registration area, the PA system, and the hospitality tables for snacks and beverages. On Thursday evening, dealers are allowed to set up their booths, but no displaying or selling of items is allowed. Since many collectors drive or fly in on Thursday, this has become a very social, casual evening with many old friends meeting and enjoying a cool beverage in the warm July evening.
Another annual feature is MARC President John Reinicke's under-tent presentation. This year it was all about tape recorders and how to service them. John's seminars are always popular and presented in a breezy and informative manner, with overhead projection of illustrations.
The flea market opened at 7a.m. Friday morning as usual, and a flurry of activity began. It's not unusual to see collectors communicating via walkie-talkie as they spread out on their hunt for the desired items.
In the outdoor flea market, Retro Radio Repairs offers specialty items for radio repair.
This show attracts noted dealers such as Zenith specialist Alan Jesperson of Minneapolis and Bruce Mager of Waves, a retail vintage radio/TV store in Manhattan. Also set up were a few Catalin radio dealers. Parts specialists included Mark Oppat, Dave Snow of Jackson, Michigan, selling his famous ARBE-III battery radio power supply and other items, and Bob Piekarz of Bob's Antique Radios & Electronics in Illinois. Bob had a good selection of capacitors and other repro parts, such as AC line cords he has custom-made to look like the old style types.
Also in the flea market was MARC's own "Bargain Barn" of radio, John Denhartigh. John brings a van and large truck each year, loaded (and I mean packed solid) with consoles and table radios that are mostly the "fixer upper" or parts donor type sets. We're talking about at least 30 consoles and probably well over 200 table radios, all spread out on his own table system, covering six or more car park spaces! If you're a beginner, you are likely to find a set here to test your restoration skills!
In the northwest corner of the lot was a seller featuring military gear, and he had racks of the stuff, plus many bins just loaded with related parts. Buford and Jane Chidester were in from Pennsylvania with a nice sample of their incredible reproduction cones for the 1920s era large cone speakers. No matter what your collecting tastes, it seems someone was there to serve your needs.
Also running around the flea market was Bret Manessa, who was shooting video for a new radio DVD/VHS he plans to issue on radio swaps around the country and what collectors do at them. He spent some time interviewing many collectors about their interests, and the hobby in general. Look for this video to join his other popular radio servicing videos soon.
This year's theme was Philco and yours truly presented a seminar on Philco radio servicing, which offered a free handout on "Top 10 Philco Restoration Tips." The topics included the famous "Bakelite block" capacitors, the problematic "open oscillator coils" of the Models 60, 84 and others, and the rotten rubber washers in the Philco pilot lamp sockets. A "Q and A" session followed. Longtime collector and historian Doug Houston presented "Philco History and Products." Over 50 folks attended each of these seminars, where there was a chance to cool off indoors and have a little rest on a seat!
Three imposing Philco consoles on display: left to right: Philco's largest, the famous 20-tube 39-690; center, the very rare, high-fidelity, 1935 Model 201; and the 1935 Model 16X.
Radio Reception Social Event
On Friday, the flea market starts winding down around 4 a.m., and folks take a little rest or get dinner. Then they are ready for the big "Radio Reception" social event that starts in the large ballroom at 7:30 a.m. and goes to 10 p.m. This year the band was "Phil Ogilvie's Wolverines" featuring vocalist Susan Chastain who runs the famous Firefly Jazz Club in Ann Arbor. This group specializes in playing authentic 1910-1940 era jazz, right from the original music scores! There are always a few couples who get a dance or two in before the end of the night.
While the band plays, the cash bar is open, munchies are available, and everyone eyes the many tables filled with the radio contest items that are on display during this event. Many fantastic Philco items were present, including a very rare Model 201X console in a super "Art Moderne" style cabinet. This was the first "high fidelity" Philco. Also, the last two "high fidelity" console models (37-690 and 38-690) were on display as well. Each of the latter feature 20-tube chassis.
Several of Philco's finest tombstone and cathedral radios were present, including the top-of-the-line Model 16B from 1935, and the huge 38-2670 from 1938. Post-war items included Philco Predicta Televisions and the huge Tropic Model 53-960 9-band table set from 1953.
From the contest, three examples of Philco's "Flying Wedge" series of radios.
In addition to the flea market, the highlight on Saturday was the live auction with well known radio auctioneer Rich Estes. The Extravaganza auction is done on a "buy-back" basis which means that, rather than having a reserve, the selling price may be protected by the seller bidding on the item. This makes the auction more lively and interesting.
For this year's auction, over 200 items were offered, and the total bid was $17,799. Of that, only $2,215 represented 13 buy-backs. There were 29 no sales. The auction is manned by volunteers which enables the Michigan club to conduct the auction with very reasonable commission on the items.
The auction featured a large number of reasonably priced sets in fair to very good condition. A few items merit special mention. For example, a couple had brought in two plastic radios from an estate, and neither had any idea of the value of the sets. As it turned out the two sets were a rare Air King "Skyscraper" with a clock and a Motorola FXFR1 Catalin. Both sets were in good shape without cracks. The Air King brought a top bid of $2,500, and the Motorola fetched $1,800. The couple was shocked and delighted at the price a true "Road Show" moment.
A FADA 252 Catalin with a hairline crack changed hands at $325. A Master Crafter ship brought a top bid of $600. A RCA 9TX "Little Nipper" sold for $800 and a Philco 16B went for $410.
A very nice Zenith 7J232 "Waltons" was a buy- back at $900. This set is special in that, as a farm set, it might have actually been owned by a farm family.
This view of the flea market under the big tent provides an indication of the magnitude and variety of the offerings.
A teardrop-shaped Climax Ruby in the contest.
Roger Brown's Master Crafters Melody Cruiser was a prize winner in the Novelty contest category.
Extravaganza closes with what is called the "Good Buy Affair." This is a donation auction, and the proceeds benefit the club. It is an important event because the funds directly support Extravaganza.
This auction took place under the big top. Mark Oppat and Dan Gutowski "tag teamed" the auctioneer duties and were supported by Mike Dale and several enthusiastic volunteers. For this auction, hundreds of items are displayed on tables. The table is then auctioned, and the winning bidder can take any item or items at the bid price. Once the winner selects the chosen items, the table is again opened for bidding, and the process is repeated until all of the items on the table are sold. The auction then moves to the next table and the process is repeated.
The donation auction is always a lot of fun because there are so many items and many sell for a dollar or less. The collector can, and does, acquire everything from a very restorable set, to a "parts" chassis. This year was no exception and a very eclectic collection found new owners.
Extravaganza 2007 will be held July 12 thru 14, 2007 at the Holiday Inn South Convention Center in Lansing, Michigan. For more information, contact Bryan Wilemon, 9924 Rosedale, Allen Park, MI 48101, or on the web at www.michiganantiqueradio.org.
Photo credit: Steve Enzer
(Mark Oppat, 253 Blanche, Plymouth, MI 48170)
The Michigan Antique Radio Club (MARC) publishes the "Michigan Antique Radio Chronicle" quarterly and holds the Annual Extravaganza and other quarterly meets. Dues are $20. For membership information: Don Colbert, MARC, membership @michiganantiqueradio.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.