Michigan Antique Radio Club
Lansing, Michigan -- July 12-14, 2007
REPORTED BY MARK OPPAT
The 22nd annual Michigan Antique Radio Club (MARC) "Extravaganza" was held July 12-14, 2007, in Lansing Michigan. This was the 14th year at the Holiday Inn South, at the Cedar Street exit off I-96, in the lower middle of the "big mitten" that is Michigan. It has proved to be a great location, not only for the easy access from Chicago or Indy areas to the west and Ohio/Pennsylvania areas, but also for the increasing number of Canadian and southern visitors.
Michigan's depressed economy insures that the rates for this location will remain reasonable for years -- as long as the hotel stays in business! We appreciate our attendees booking rooms at this hotel. The facility has a main ballroom and several smaller meeting rooms ideal for the radio seminars, as well as a casual restaurant called "Hummingbirds," which is very convenient.
The weather was slightly cooler than in 2006, with the mean temperature around 67 degrees each day, lows down to 52 and highs up to 76 or so. Michigan's weather has proven to be moderate for this event for many years. There was a bit of rain on Saturday, but the main problem was wind gusts lifting tents in the lot. Unless a storm is moving through, wind is usually not a problem in this location. The huge main tent offers great shelter; in case of bad weather, those sellers can stay open. This tent alone is larger than the venues of many other regional radio events.
RCA advertising items in the old equipment contest.
Each year, Extravaganza's themes alternate between "brands" and "concepts." This was a "concept" year, and "Performance Radio" attracted many great entries into the contest/display. (2008 will feature the RCA brand, in case you are wondering).
The Tube Collectors of America held their annual meeting on Thursday afternoon in the hotel. This session was open to all Extravaganza attendees, and those who attended were treated to an outstanding presentation on Western Electric tubes. The presentation featured many actual examples of rare and one of a kind prototype tubes.
The Flea Market
The highlight of this event is always the huge flea market, and this year was no different from others in the past. Setup of spaces (tents, shelving, etc) is permitted Thursday night, but no selling or displaying of items is allowed until Friday morning at 7 a.m. Thursday evening has become a casual "hang out" night for collectors, especially since so many drive or fly in from far away. The opportunity to socialize is enjoyed by all.
Once again the rear parking lot was totally assigned to MARC and all 200 spaces were nearly filled. The huge tent had all 60 tables sold. Also under the tent is the registration check-in, hospitality area, and the "Radio Rescue" space where the general public can bring radios for evaluation, get parts or servicing info, or put up
sets for sale. Many interesting sets have come in for this free service the club offers, and, many Extravaganza collectors have been able to buy radios directly from the public.
As usual, the club's publicity worked well (newspaper ads, calendar of events listings, radio interviews, etc.) to attract several folks to bring items to the show. The most interesting probably was a "barn-fresh" Atwater-Kent breadboard Model 10. The unit was very grimy, but it was all there, and it generated several offers from show attendees. It finally sold to Bruce Mager of Waves in New York City.
As usual, MARC's president John Reinicke did a presentation under the big tent, this one on "performance radios" featuring the famous R-390 series of military receivers. These incredible radios continue to be perennial favorites with those who seek the ultimate AM/SW reception. The presentation provided some theoretical background as to what makes a performance radio, in addition to hints and kinks in the repair and maintenance of complex radios.
The Indoor Stuff
Seminars this year included "Tubes: Stuff RCA Didn't Tell You" by noted tube expert Ludwell Sibley and a "Radio Servicing with Q and A" by yours truly, Mark Oppat. Saturday's morning seminar was Mike Dale's "6SN7 and Its Variants." Mike is well known as a tube expert and dealer with a large setup under the big tent every year.
This gorgeous Muntz TV was entered in the "Open" category.
Friday evening is the big display and contest in the large ballroom, with cash bar and light munchies. Ohio radio collector Jeff Conley's four-man band, The Rock Bottom Mining Company, provided the music in the old bluegrass style. MARC member Dan Gutowski also played solo as Danny Cash doing a tribute to Johnny Cash. Several collectors who know Dan said how impressed they were with his talent of which they were unaware.
This year's performance radio contest theme brought in a wide array of entries as is usual at this event. The 70 foot long wall of the ballroom was lined with tables filled with radios and related items. The Extravaganza contest, once again provided an outstanding exhibit of rare and unusual sets.
The auction was conducted by well known auctioneer Rich Estes, with the logistics being handled by numerous volunteer club members. A total of 304 lots were offered for a total bid of $20,714.50. The Michigan auction uses "buyback" to provide protection for the seller, rather than placing a reserve on the item. As the auction proceeds, the seller may bid on his own item until the price reaches an acceptable level. This makes for a more exciting and lively auction. In this year's auction, a total of $1,810 was buyback, and the total sales were $18,904.50.
There were a couple of items of note in this year's auction. A green "Emersonette" with a very small crack brought $725 and an almost perfect Cadet "Clockette" fetched $2,100. The green Emerson was notable because it had turned up at the "Radio Rescue" at the MARC spring meet in Midland. The owner had been using the set as her kitchen radio (yes, regular use) until she brought it to the Midland meet. Since she expressed an interest in selling the set, it was suggested that she bring it to Extravaganza. She was astounded at the price for a small "cheap" radio.
The collector value of the Air King "Skyscraper" sets was proven at the auction as well. This rather sad example had suffered an accident and was completely shattered. All of the broken pieces were there along with the chassis. You can imagine the number of collectors that cringed as they examined the set on the table. Even though it was completely shattered, it still managed to change hands for $500!
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.
The Good Buy Affair
Extravaganza closes out with the "Good Buy Affair," which is a donation auction. Items are donated to the club and the proceeds are used to support the event. This auction is very important to the continued success of Extravaganza. It is conducted under the big top in the flea market area on a cash and carry basis.
Donated items covered several tables. Auctioneers Mike Dale and Mark Oppat kept things moving at a lively pace. Because of the large number of items offered, the bidding was for choice by table. The winning bidder would have a choice of one or more items, each at the bid price.
Once the items were selected, the remaining items could be selected by others at the bid price. When there were no more takers, the bidding resumed and the process was repeated. After a few rounds, the bid prices were $5 or less, and the table would empty with the winning bidder having first choice. In some cases, the bidding was as low as a quarter. This year, the auction brought a total of $859.95 for the hundreds of items offered.
The "Good Buy Affair" is a lot of fun and gives the collector a chance to pick up some genuine bargains.
The 2008 Extravaganza is only a short time away -- July 10-12 -- at the same venue in Lansing. Hope to see you there.
e=excellent, vg=very good, g=good, f=fair, p=poor, unk=unknown condition, wk=working, WT=with tubes, NT=no tubes, WE=Western Electric. 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.
Photo credit: Steve Enzer
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 information: Don Colbert, MARC, membership @michiganantiqueradio.org.
The final event of Extravaganza is the "Good Buy Affair" where all the items that have been donated to MARC are auctioned off. The auction took approximately two hours and netted nearly $900 for the club. Shown here are the tables packed with items ready to be auctioned, as well as console radios in the rear.