Lansing, Michigan -- July 9-11, 2009
REPORTED BY MARK OPPAT
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The Michigan Antique Radio Club (MARC) hosted its 24th Annual Extravaganza on July 9-11 in Lansing, Michigan, at the former Holiday Inn South, now renamed as the "Causeway Bay Inn." Oddly, there is no Causeway or Bay nearby, but the new owners have set out to make improvements, some of which were in progress during the meet. None of this activity was of any real distraction to the eager attendees, of which there were slightly more than in 2008, both in attendance and flea market spaces occupied. This year's theme was "Radio Through the Decades."
To encourage higher general public attendance, MARC does not charge admission to the flea market or auctions, but requires registration for anyone to attend any other events. While most serious collectors register, some do not, so it's hard to say exactly the total attendance. No matter -- each year, this event is considered by many to be the premier USA antique electronics event.
This year the Tube Collectors of America partnered again with MARC to hold its annual convention during this event. This has become an alternating-year partnership and seems to be of benefit to both organizations. MARC is hoping to bring in other groups, such as vintage audio enthusiasts, in the future to broaden the appeal of this already popular event.
The Flea Market
Approximately 250 car park spaces were occupied this year, up slightly from 239 in 2008. Moderate weather, ample selling spaces and parking, reasonable room rates at the host hotel, informative seminars and a general fun attitude have been the hallmarks here since day one. The huge tent (now 180' x 40') is the unique feature of this flea market, and it offers nearly 80 protected selling tables as an option to those who might prefer such. Also under this tent the club operates its registration, large hospitality area with chairs and tables for resting, the "Good Buy Affair" bargain auction, and the Thursday evening seminar.
This year, club president John Reinicke opened the meet with a program titled "My Big eBay Adventure." John covered his experiences with selling on eBay and shared several tips and suggestions. The large group also shared some of their experiences as well, so it was good opening for the show.
"Watts up, Buddy!"
On Thursday evening, many sellers set up their spaces; however, no selling or display of items is allowed until the flea market opens Friday morning at 7 a.m. If the weather is nice, and it usually is, Thursday night is an informal social event where "old pals" greet and gab about the anticipation of buying or selling the following morning. This "face to face" socializing is probably the great feature of this and all the antique radio events -- a chance to chat with knowledgeable collectors and experts in many areas of this hobby.
This contest entry is a Wm. Murdock long wave receiver with a silicon detector, ca. 1912. As the story goes, this set received signals from the Titanic reporting a 300 foot tear in her side from an iceberg. The set was rediscovered during the 1970s in Orleans, Mass.
My previous reports on this event have mentioned the many dealers and specialists who make a special effort to attend Extravaganza each year. Parts dealers such as Bob Piekarz of Bob's Antique Radios, Ed Schutz of Renovatedradios.com, or yours truly allow you to see reproductions or rare parts items up close and examine them and ask questions. Nothing can really match this experience online. If at all possible, get to one or more of the major (or local) radio events each year -- it's really fun and educational. Oh, and bring your parts lists or samples of knobs to match!
The Friday morning opened with a temperature in the lower 60s (peaking at 80 in the late afternoon) and a very light breeze. Collectors swarmed the rear parking lot where the flea market is located, walking briskly around so as to see as much as possible and scoop up the best deals, of which there were plenty to be had. Besides radios, there was the usual assortment of related items, including a few vintage TV sets, audio gear, and parts of all kinds.
As an aside, Michigan is located squarely in what I call the "Antique Radio Belt" (ARB). The ARB runs from Illinois to the East Coast, including all areas south of Maine and north of Kentucky. During the "Golden Era of Radio" (1928-1942), these states all had a high level of electrification, good paying jobs, and a density of population. Additionally, the Midwest had a higher percentage of owner-occupied homes where console and larger radios were installed.
Table radios, speakers, 45 rpm phonographs, and more await buyers on this flea market table.
Pennsylvania could be considered "the hallowed ground" for antique radio in my opinion. Folks in Pa. seemed to have bought better grade sets and to have held on to them for generations. So, it's natural that you will see more radios at events and dealerships in this region, and my experience traveling around the USA has proved my theory to be fairly solid.
Lansing is well known for interesting seminars and this year was no exception. On Friday, noted tube expert and Tube Lore author Ludwell Sibley presented "Recent Discoveries in the Tube World." MARC member Gary Stork of "thevoiceofmusic.com" presented a seminar on "Record Changer Service." Gary bought out the remnants of the Voice of Music Corp. several years ago and now has one of the largest online parts sources for record changer parts, specializing, but not limited to, the VM brand. Both seminars enjoyed standing-room-only attentive audiences.
On Saturday morning, Dave Snow presented "How to Hook Up and Use Early Battery Sets." These early sets contain a lot of "lost art," and Dave showed how to bring these old beauties back to life to a very appreciative audience.
Strong "Radio Reception"
A few tunes from Alan Jesperson of Great Northern Vintage Radios, Minneapolis, Minn., are a regular feature at MARC's events.
MARC's Friday evening "Radio Reception" is a time for socializing and viewing the contest entries while listening to great acoustic-based music. Usually about 200 folks show up for this informal event. This year was a return of the "Rock Bottom Mining Company" Bluegrass band, including radio collector Jeff Conley. This group has issued several CDs and plays many events each year in and around Ohio.
The contest participation was somewhat smaller this year possibly because some of the enthusiastic exhibitors of previous years were absent. However, there were dozens of really nice and rare sets for all to enjoy and appreciate. On display were rare sets like Michael Feldt's Scott "World Record 10" and Mark Spear's Kennedy 110 and 220 RF and AF units, all of the battery era.
MARC's youngest-ever board member, 16 year old Ian Shackleford, won the "Chairman's Trophy" for his restored 1948 GE Model 810 Television that was displayed playing vintage Burns and Allen TV shows. Everyone knows what a challenge it is to restore early TV sets. Ian just made Eagle Scout in March 2010 -- perhaps he just needed something easy to do after fixing the GE 810! Our congrats to Ian on both major feats.
SATURDAY WEATHER PROBLEM
A little early rain caused some Saturday sellers not to set up at the flea market. Others displayed an abbreviated set up, but wind gusts up to 26 mph played havoc with smaller tent tops. Thankfully, activity under the "Big Top" main tent (with attached side curtains) was active through midday. This is the big plus to having a large tent set up for flea markets.
Saturday is also the day the "General Public" tends to show up with their radios in tow for MARC's "Radio Rescue" free evaluation service. Often, items are offered up on site for sale to the highest bidder. You never know what will show up, but the club's extensive print, radio and even television advertising brings in a stream of "fresh to the market" stuff that can make this second day exciting.
Noted radio auctioneer Richard Estes conducted the Saturday afternoon "Main Auction." Rich is noted for his encyclopedic knowledge of radios that enables him to conduct a very lively and informative auction.
Michigan uses a "buy back" format for their auctions. This format allows the seller to bid on his own item until his reserve is met. The advantage is that the seller can decide the reserve on the fly, and the auction does not slow down if the reserve is not met. This year's high bid was $800 for a Western Electric 2A tuner. A working pair of EPI M-100 speakers went to a new owner for $750. A U.S. Radio 9-tube cathedral changed hands for $500, and $450 bought a Burns tortoise shell speaker with a small hairline crack. In all, 220 lots were offered for a total bid of $18,512. Of the total, only $3,262.50 was buy-back so, as in the past, just about everything found a new home.
The Bargain Auction
One of the surprises this year was the incredible pile of items donated to the club for the grand finale Bargain Auction. Two rather sizable estate contributions contributed to a quantity that came to 50 percent more than last year's record amount!
Table after table was heaped with radios, parts, and boxes of "stuff" containing God knows what -- and even He couldn't be sure! Oh, and probably over 30 console radios and other floor-standing audio gear were auctioned using the fastest and most equitable methods.
Usually a "Choice of the Table" bid is sought, with the high bidder getting to select as many items from the lot at that bid. The same bid is done again, sometimes several times, until the table is cleared or a "one bid for all" is received. Most items go for under $5, so this is a real bargain hunter's paradise. Still, even the remaining console carcasses and other dregs filled a 16' long x 8' wide landscaper's trailer to what could only be described as "heaping" status . If you are a bargain hunter, do not miss this final auction -- it's an amazing opportunity and the proceeds benefit MARC.
And, yes, there were colorful Catalin and blue-mirrored sets to tempt the Art Deco collector.
MARC extends an invitation to all to attend this great vintage radio and electronics event on July 8-10, 2010, and in following years. This year, MARC will celebrate its 25th Anniversary with a "Michigan Radios" theme. See the ad on page 2 and the club's site www.michiganantiqueradio.org for info on this and other upcoming events.
e=excellent, vg=very good, g=good, f=fair, N.O.S.=new old stock, N.I.B.=new in box, wk=working, nwk=not working, WT=with tubes, WE=Western Electric. All prices have been rounded down to the dollar. Some low cost items, items in poor condition or with non-specific descriptions and lots consisting of different items are not included. Buyback items are not included.
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.
Photo credit: Steve Enzer
The Michigan Antique Radio Club (MARC) publishes "The Michigan Antique Radio Chronicle" quarterly and sponsors the annual Extravaganza and other quarterly meets. Dues are $20. For more information: www.michiganantiqueradio.org.