Antique Radio Club of Illinois
Silver Anniversary Radiofest -- August 4-6, 2005
CONTRIBUTED BY DANIEL SCHOO
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois celebrated its 25th anniversary with a fantastic turnout for the Silver Anniversary Radiofest at the Holiday Inn of Bolingbrook, Illinois. Since the former Elgin location had been sold last year and converted to a private facility, this was the first time Radiofest was held in Bolingbrook.
Amenities and Hospitality
This Holiday Inn is located southwest of Chicago near the intersections of Interstate 55 and Illinois Route 53 with easy access to the metro Chicago area and suburbs. The hotel is in much better condition than the old Elgin venue. It is attractively decorated, with more rooms and a larger parking lot. It also has a nice restaurant, and, unlike the previous location, several family type restaurants within walking distance, including an upscale Mexican restaurant right next door.
The hotel staff could not have been more friendly and accommodating. The comments overheard and solicited by the club were overwhelmingly positive about the hotel and location. Several suggestions were offered about changes that could be made for next year, including the location of some of the special function tents. The club has plans to evaluate things and make further refinements to make next year's Radiofest even better.
A view of Friday's flea market activity.
Excellent sunny weather prevailed through much of the event. Generally, temperatures held in the mid-80s with some cloudiness on Friday morning. The hospitality tent hosted by Janet LaVelle offered a place to sit in the shade. Water, iced tea, lemonade and soda pop along with assorted chips, cookies and other treats were available compliments of the club. The hotel offered hamburgers and hot dogs for $2, along with coffee, soft drinks and picnic-type side dishes for a modest charge at the tent.
The registration booth opened at 2 p.m. on Thursday, August 4. Club officers Julia and David Bart, along with Cheryl Drake, welcomed sellers. Flea market activities began at 3 p.m., an hour earlier than last year, and continued through Saturday August 6, concluding with the donation auction. As always, admission for buyers was free. Nonmembers and the general public were welcome to come in and look around. This year 199 vendor spaces were sold. There were 153 vendors registered, the highest in the last five years. The club membership reached 398 members, an all time high.
Malcolm White, left, and Nate Alexander talk radio behind a pile of sets, including two highly styled Truetones in the foreground.
Art Bilski at his flea market table dominated by an interesting range of test equipment that included a Variac, multimeters, signal generators, and set analyzers.
On this opening day, some trading was done before the official start time of 3 p.m., and by 1 p.m., quite a bit of activity was underway. Some said Thursday was the most active of the three days.
Thursday's programs began at 7:30 p.m. with Kris Gimmy's lecture on the use of plastics in radio cabinets. About 50 people heard about the different types of plastics and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Kris showed examples of plastics and talked about the unusual aspects of Catalin and its manufacture. He also gave cleaning suggestions and warned about the compatibility of the various plastics with water and cleaning chemicals.
Amateur Radio Activities
The special event Amateur radio station was set up again this year with call W9R, the "R" being for Radiofest. Host Jim Novak WA9FIH worked single sideband on the 10-, 15- and 20-meter Amateur bands and narrowband FM on 2 meters through the Six Meter Club of Chicago K9ONA repeater. Special event QSL cards were available by mail to contacts.
An Atwater Kent Model 37 is displayed in the contest by Greg Farmer.
Club vice-presidents Jim Novak and Dave Bart invited area Boy Scouts to work on merit badges this year. Over the three days, 23 merit badges were earned in "Radio" and "Collections" by 15 scouts. Thanks to everyone for making the scouts feel welcome and sharing the radio collecting hobby with them.
Friday morning the flea market opened at dawn and trading was well underway by 7:30 a.m. The registration booth opened at 7 a.m. By noon the trading tapered off as people went to lunch. Afternoon trading was much lighter. Some sellers packed up and left.
George Wilder offered his free appraisal services again this year in the "Radio Roundup" tent on Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. George reported that 38 radios and related items were brought in and appraised. Most of the radios returned home with the owners but several were entered in the main auction.
An authentic Russian Sputnik satellite built as a backup unit in 1957 was on display in the contest room.
A special service was offered for those who wanted to dispose of the radio immediately. Following appraisal, an announcement was made over the PA that a radio was to be auctioned at the appraisal tent. An immediate auction was held and the radio sold. One rough Majestic "Charlie McCarthy" sold at auction brought a closing bid of $450.
Old Equipment Contest
The annual old equipment contest began at 9 a.m. on Friday with registration and setup continuing until noon. Judging, award placement, and official contest picture-taking took place from noon until about 3:30 p.m. when the room was opened for viewing. Information cards relating the make, model, and other pertinent information were displayed with each entry. Bob and Carol Drake deserve congratulations for an outstanding job of organizing, documenting and displaying the entries.
This year the contest theme was linked to the 25th silver anniversary year of ARCI. With the exception of the open category, radios and associated equipment with silver in the name, predominately silver in color or having the number "25" in the make or model were featured. There were 44 contest entries accepted this year in ten categories, up from 33 last year. The categories were the following: pre-1928, 1928 through 1939, 1940 through 1949, 1950 through 1959, 1960 to present tube-type radios, transistor radios, speakers, accessories, microphones, radio-related, and "open" -- anything radio-related. A display only table was available for items not entered in the contest.
Bill Ross earned "Best of Show" with this Hallicrafters Model S-1.
Contest director Bob Drake brought a very special surprise to this year's event. Bob was able to borrow one of the original Sputnik satellites and place it on display in the contest room. The satellite on display was identical to the first Sputnik that the Soviet Union successfully launched into orbit on October 4, 1957. It was built as a backup unit in case the first launch failed, so it was never used. The Russian government eventually sold unused Sputnik satellites, and this sample is now in a private collection.
While in orbit, the 22-inch diameter sphere broadcast a regular series of audible telemetry tones on 20.005 and 40.010 megahertz. Official certificates of reception were awarded by the Russian government to those who received the signals down here on earth. Club member and Amateur radio operator Jim Novak WA9FIH heard the transmission in 1957 and received one of the certificates.
For a detailed history of Sputnik and the impact on the American space program, visit the NASA Sputnik History web page at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/sputnik/
More Friday Events
Friday at 11:30 a.m., 26 ladies attended the fourth annual Ladies Luncheon hosted by Janet LaVelle in the hotel restaurant. Janet's neighbor Judy Mundinger donated a handmade pillow and quilt, which were raffled off, netting $68 for the club. Paula Bumgardner won the pillow and the quilt went to Jennie Leffel. Towels and other prizes were also given to the attendees. The luncheon was very much enjoyed and gets bigger every year. Janet would like to thank everyone for attending.
At 2 p.m., Bob Paquette, noted microphone collector and owner of reportedly the largest microphone museum in the world, discussed microphone history. About 25 to 35 people were treated to a unique display of antique and rare microphones starting with the earliest types invented by Bell for telephony.
Paquette showcased early broadcast microphones and the microphone used by Admiral Byrd for his Antarctic expedition. He surveyed the origins and evolution of the microphone showing examples of each major stage of development.
At 3:30 p.m., Dr. Steven Hofer, curator of the Philo T. Farnsworth Television History Center, Auburn, Indiana, spoke to 27 people about inventor and television system pioneer Philo T. Farnsworth. He began with a short history of the life of Farnsworth and outlined Farnsworth's work on the development of an all-electronic television system. Hofer also discussed Farnsworth's rivalry with Vladimir Zworykin of RCA and the ensuing patent fights. Hofer described his own collection of television paraphernalia, including nearly every TV Guide magazine ever issued in every market area.
At 5:30 p.m., the banquet hall was opened for the contest award presentations. The Best of Show -- Dr. Ralph Muchow Award -- was presented to Bill Ross for his Hallicrafters (by Silver Marshall) S-1 Special.
The S-1 Special was an innovative regenerative communications receiver made in 1933 or 1934. Because of the extreme rarity of this model and the discussion as to whether the Special should really be considered an S-2, there has been a great interest in this receiver making it a particularly appealing contest entry.
Special guest Bruce DuMont, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, founder and president of the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications, was introduced. Following the award presentations, DuMont spoke about his plans for the new Museum of Broadcast Communications facility in Chicago. A new building is under construction that will house exciting new displays, a banquet hall, and an interactive library of some of broadcast history's finest programming. He also announced the new 2005 inductees into the Broadcast Hall of Fame.
The club extends thanks to Mr. DuMont for consenting to appear and address the club about the exciting new Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications.
Village of Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar was also introduced. The club is grateful to Mayor Claar for extending a warm welcome to Radiofest. Without his help Radiofest would not have been as successful. Mayor Claar and some of the city staff even joined the club!
Before the banquet, club president Harry Blesy took a few moments to recognize the volunteers who gave their time to help with ARCI this year and Radiofest in particular. As Harry listed their names, each in attendance was presented with an award certificate of appreciation. The President's Choice Volunteer of The Year Award went to Treasurer Julia Bart for her energy, enthusiasm and efficiency in various club activities this year. Well deserved congratulations to Julia for her dedication.
This 1938 Silvertone Precision, with matching speaker, was shown in the contest by Harry Blesy.
The banquet started at 7 P.M., serving 95 guests a menu of chicken, fish or pork. Following the banquet, Gina and the Jets, a hot rockabilly trio, played 1950s genre rock-and-roll and early 1960s surf sounds until closing at 10 P.M.
On Saturday, the trading was moderate, as quite a few sellers had left on Friday. Enough buyers stayed through the Donation Auction to make this the most successful donation auction ever.
At 9:30 a.m., the Chester the Collector program hosted by Ed Huether began. This is an informal event where questions and comments related to radio collecting are brought up and discussed. Items of interest can be brought in and identified or commented on. About 10 people attended.
Immediately following at 10 a.m., Jeff Aulik and Mike Kreuser gave a slide presentation on things you never knew about Atwater Kent to an audience of about 27 people. Avid Atwater Kent collector Jeff Aulik talked about the Atwater Kent Company and the personal life of Arthur Atwater Kent. Mike Kreuser followed with a detailed discussion of repro breadboard parts and how to distinguish them from original factory parts. Following the presentation Kreuser answered questions and provided samples of breadboard parts for close inspection.
Bob Paquette presented a seminar on microphones.
The main auction check-in began at 10:30 a.m. and ran through 11:30 a.m. with preauction viewing from 11:30 a.m. until noon. Harry Blesy and Debbie Michalowski checked in auction items. Auction fees were fixed at $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers. For each lot, the high bid was subject to acceptance by the seller at auction closing. Harry served as auctioneer, while Art Bilski, assisted by Jeff Aulik, recorded auction results. Two lots were donated to the club for entry into the main auction, one of which was from the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications.
There were 42 registered bidders and 18 of the 37 items were sold for a total of $1,050. The listing [see print versio] shows sold items only. Items closing below $25 or high bids rejected by the seller at closing were not sold. The last item was completed at 1:10 p.m.
John and Tom Kleinschmidt hosted the very popular Donation Auction held on Saturday afternoon following the Main Auction. Originally scheduled for 3 p.m. the Donation Auction started at 1:15 p.m. when the Main Auction ended. About 30 people attended netting the club a record $817 in sales, up from last year's sales of $615.
Club president Harry Blesy deserves recognition for his outstanding effort in finding a new location on such short notice. Hotels typically need to be booked a year in advance for events like this. Harry not only found a well suited location, but was able to book it only months in advance of the show date.
Thank you to all of the volunteers, buyers and sellers for their support of the ARCI Silver Anniversary Radiofest.
Photos by Daniel Schoo.
(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: firstname.lastname@example.org