Antique Radio Club of Illinois
Elgin, Illinois -- August 5-7, 2004
CONTRIBUTED BY DANIEL SCHOO
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois' Radiofest XXIII began Thursday, August 5, and continued through Saturday, August 7, at the Elgin Best Western Plaza and Convention Center, 345 River Road in Elgin, Illinois. Registration, which began at 2 p.m. on Thursday, was improved this year by having preregistration packets ready, extra help added, and parking lot spaces closely tracked for availability.
As always, admission to the event for buyers or the general public was free. Most vendors honored the official flea market opening time at 4 p.m. on Thursday, an hour earlier than the previous year.
The weather for all three days could not have been better. It was cool in the mornings with highs in the 70s during the day and clear skies until Saturday when a few non-threatening clouds moved in. Cold drinks, cookies and bags of chips were available for a voluntary donation to the club. The hotel restaurant also offered coffee and fast food meals for a fee.
Roving seller Larry Lisle with his Instructograph for sale.
The number of sellers this year was 146, using 219 registered spaces. This is down slightly from last year when we had 152 sellers using 228 spaces. The number of paid members this year is 377, up significantly from 340 members last year.
The Thursday evening initial sales were busy. No other activities were planned for Thursday other than the open air flea market. On Friday, the flea market was scheduled to begin at dawn. Arriving at about 6:30 that morning, I saw some activity, but things did not begin to get going until well after dawn.
The popular annual "Radio Roundup" opened at 10 a.m. and continued until 5 p.m. This club function encourages the general public to bring in any old radio equipment they have for a free appraisal by knowledgeable club members. Advice is given on what the set is, what it may be worth in the current market, and where the set might be sold if the owner so desired. This year, close to 70 sets were brought in for appraisal.
Jim Millsap's Atwater Kent breadboards for sale in the flea market.
There were 33 contest entries and 16 display-only entries for a total of 49. This year's theme was crystal radios for which there were several categories. The Dr. Ralph Muchow Best of Show Award went again this year to Tom Burgess, this time for his excellent display of an RPM Model 51 breadboard set and associated documents.
The display-only entries were shown in a separate area. Some of the displays included a 1910 Poulsen magnetic disk recorder and an early microphone display by Ekkehart Willms, several military crystal sets by Dick Bury. and a pair of Edison dynamo scale models by Tom Burgess.
At 11:30 on Friday morning, about 20 ladies attended the traditional women's luncheon held in the hotel restaurant. This is an informal gathering for the ladies to meet friends and talk about their interests.
For sale by Alan Jesperson, an exceptional Stromberg-Carlson Model 145-P console.
Also on Friday, Chuck Schaden, local radio personality and author, opened his presentation with a book signing. Mr. Schaden is a historian centering on the people and personalities of radio's golden era. He hosts "Those Were the Days," a local radio program on College of DuPage station WDCB FM 90.9. The show features the history of radio personalities who were dear to the hearts of millions of listeners.
After the book signing, about 100 people attended his fascinating talk about the people of radio's past and his memories of them as he was growing up. Mr. Schaden played clips from some of the popular radio shows like Captain Midnight and discussed their backgrounds.
Later, Dan Clark, W9VV, gave his dial and knob restoration presentation to over thirty attendees. Dan's talk included a set of overhead projector slides of his restoration work. Several people who attended said it was excellent and enjoyed the talk.
The contest awards were presented at a cocktail hour in the hotel's Ivy Room. This year all of the club volunteers, officers and board members were given special awards for their help and contributions to the club. Following that, the annual fish fry buffet supper with cash door prizes was held. A $12 fee covered the all-you-can-eat meal, including drink, tax and tip.
Completing the evening was the Bob Dobush vacuum tube presentation in the Ball Room at 7:30 p.m. Bob had a marvelous display of vacuum tubes, and he discussed the various types as they related to collecting. Over thirty people attended and described it as an excellent event.
A rare 1916 Wireless Specialty Apparatus Co. SE-183A triple crystal detector in the equipment display.
On Saturday, the flea market was scheduled to start at dawn and end at 3 p.m. Some sellers left after Friday and a few new ones came in on Saturday. However, by noon, many had packed up, although there was still a bit of activity at 1:30 when I left.
On Saturday at 9:30 a.m., a new event was held -- the "Chester the Collector Show and Tell," so named in honor of the late Chester Michalowski, a regular attendee and pillar of the club. Though the attendance was rather small -- seven people, including club moderators Jim Novak and Ed Huether-- it was an interesting part of the meet. Its purpose was to assemble collectors who would not ordinarily get together to foster discussion of personal experiences in radio collecting and to display unusual radio-related equipment. Bill Reid showed a very rare screw socket A-battery charger intended to recharge battery set wet cells from the (then) domestic DC power from a lamp socket. Others shared collecting stories.
Following the Chester the Collector discussion, Ron Ramirez, "Mr. Philco," presented the history of the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company, later to become Philco. Ron painted a fascinating picture of how Philco began as a small company making storage batteries and then storage battery chargers for early battery radio sets. Under the direction of James M. Skinner, Philco became one of the largest and most influential radio manufacturers in the country.
Club president Harry Blesy did the auctioneering, while Art Bilski documented results and Chuck Schwark displayed items up for auction. A total of 79 items were submitted and of these, 41 items were sold. There were 64 bidders with gross sales of $6,920.
Buy-backs were not allowed this year. A "buy back" is where a seller bids on his own sale, essentially "buying it back" in order to prevent an item from being sold at a price lower than the seller desires. A new system was implemented where sellers could either accept or reject a high bid by visual cues to the auctioneer as the auction concluded.
A minimum of $25 was accepted on any item for sale. Any closing bid less than that voided the sale. Thirty-eight items were not sold either because the seller rejected the high bid or the item did not attract sufficient interest to get a qualifying bid. Rather than charge a percentage of the closing bid, the club charged a flat fee of $10 for nonmembers and $5 for members in advance for each item or lot auctioned. This sped up the after auction close-out.
The final event of the "fest" was the donation auction on Saturday afternoon coordinated by John Kleinschmidt. This auction was very successful, grossing $615, which goes to the club.
Special thanks to Tom and Debbie Bossman who contributed a huge number of items, and their crew was a big help in organizing and positioning the items for sale.
Comments on Radiofest XXIII were very positive. We would like to thank club president Harry Blesy for directing a well-run event and a special thanks to all the volunteers, sellers and buyers for their support.
g=good; wk=working, nwk=not working. Items with incomplete descriptions and multi-item lots omitted. See print version of A.R.C. for complete auction listing.
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.
(Daniel Schoo, 526 Colonial Drive, DeKalb, IL 60115)
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois (ARCI) publishes "ARCI Update" periodically and "ARCI News" monthly. Dues are $15. Events include the annual August Radiofest and bimonthly swap meets. For more information: Art Bilski. P.O. Box 1139, La Grange Park, IL 60526. (630) 739-1060. Web: www.antique-radios.org. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.