Burbank, Ohio -- April 28, 2007
REPORTED BY RAY CHASE
It will be difficult to find enough of the right superlatives to report this auction. From both a financial and statistical aspect, it was close to a record setter. The over 600 items attained a total bid price of over $310,000 ($325,000 with the five percent buyers premium added in). Fourteen items contributed over two-thirds of the value to the bottom line with five items reaching the five-figure mark.
But, putting aside the cold numbers, it was a tour-de-force -- a rare grouping of exceptional radios, never to be seen again in one spot. Essentially it was a magnificent museum that was assembled in a few days and only stayed together for literally a few hours. It was a privilege to be there.
Of course the star of the show had to be the Crosley Super Power receiver, perhaps one of only two or three still thought to exist. Impressive as it was, it was somewhat jaded since it was incomplete having lost a couple of speakers and several of its chassis along the way. As a final indignity, it did not have the correct knobs. Yet, it was still an imposing sight, and if Richard Estes had charged for picture-taking, he probably could have made a tidy sum. Everyone had to take multiple pictures of it, and many posed beside it, so, if they had no hope of ever owning one, they could at least go home with a picture.
Auctioneer Richard Estes taking a bid at the over-$300,000 auction.
Frank Rasada, who had owned it at one time, came from California to witness its changing of hands again. Frank said that when he sold it many years ago, he bought a house with the proceeds. This time the selling bid price was $55,000 -- not bad considering the work needed to locate or construct the missing pieces. Fortunately, the main receiver chassis was present. Allegedly, some hi-fi enthusiast had commandeered the amplifier chassis and maybe a speaker or two sometime in its past life.
But the Crosley was just one of the stars of this show. There was a Zenith 1000Z Stratosphere that was in the best shape of any that had previously passed under Richard's gavel. It also sold for $55,000. Then came the Sparton Nocturne, again a better example than any of the previous three or four that passed through this house last year. It might be called a bargain at $37,500 when prior examples sold for over $50,000, but then how many Nocturnes does one need?
If you were a high-end hi-fi fan, especially for McIntosh items, then your mouth would be watering for the incredible selection of McIntosh items offered. The McIntosh MC2000 New Millennium Edition stereo amp with eight push-pull parallel KT-88 tubes was a sight to behold. Even the tubes were marked McIntosh. One of only 50 that were made and originally sold new for $15,000, it sold here for $8,000. Then there were the Catalins, mirror and other decorator radios, dozens of them. Many sold in the several thousand range, and a couple hit the five-figure mark. It was all somewhat overwhelming!
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.
But, there was still nearly something for everyone. No low value auction preceded the main auction, and there was little Ham gear and not many paper items. Still, there was a good selection of AC and battery wood radios and consoles, and some of the prices tended to be on the low side. I guess if you wanted Catalins or five-figure radios you were not going to pick up a lot of hundred dollar radios.
There were some nice parts and test equipment lots that were sold in a side auction in the afternoon. I did not record them and missed quite a few items in the main auction; I was running back and forth trying to capture a couple of items for myself from the side auction.
The weather was cloudy and damp, and the Friday evening viewing was as crowded as I have ever seen it. On Saturday, there were cars from all over the country in the parking lot, and yet many console radios and other items were being brought in by consignors in the morning. Maybe they were hoping that the bidding frenzy would help move their items. By the 10 a.m. start, there were over 100 bidders registered.
I stopped recording at 4:45 p.m., and the auction ended at about 5:15 p.m. In spite of the "big bucks" emphasis at this auction, there were still plenty of bargains and many lots sold for less than $50 or even $25.
Note: Many of the photos show radios with knobs missing, especially Zeniths, Catalins and other specialty radios. The auction house removes many collectible knobs as a security precaution and provides them to the buyer at auction checkout.
Abbreviations: e=excellent, vg=very good, g=good, f=fair, p=poor, unk=unknown condition, N.O.S.=new old stock, wk=working, nwk=not working, WT=with tubes, NT=no tubes, BB=brass- based, TT=tipped tube, SW=shortwave, PS=power supply, PB=push buttons, 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.
Ray Chase has been a radio enthusiast and a collector of many types of radios for years. Currently, he specializes in World War II electronics equipment, as well as early battery superheterodynes. He also has an extensive collection of radio documentation and ephemera.
Several Sparton Nocturne radios have been sold at Estes Auctions. This one, in original condition, except for reproduction knobs, sold for $37,500.
This McIntosh amplifier is an audiophile's delight. It is a Model MC2000, 50th anniversary, New Millennium model, Serial No.15 of 50 produced, and sold for $8,000.
Crosley "WLW" Receiver
BY RAY CHASE
The Crosley "WLW" Super Power receiver dwarfed other console radios in the late 1930s, standing 58 inches tall. It is estimated that no more than five or ten were made, and the radio was priced at $1,500, almost double the price of a Zenith Stratosphere. The new owner of this radio also received a binder of historical information and photos related to this radio.
Included was a copy of "Treatise on the WLW Receiver" from the Agricultural & Mechanical Library of the Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College. It was dated 23 Sept. 1939. This treatise was authored by Auryle P. Richards and submitted to the Department of Electrical Engineering for a Ph.D. in 1939. Mr. Richards had received a BS in Electrical Engineering from this school in 1927.
I tried to google this document to determine if it was available online, but was not successful. I did look over the article in the binder prior to the sale and found it very comprehensive and worthy of obtaining. One of the radio magazines of the day also did an article on this receiver.
A front view of the Crosley WLW Super-Power receiver shows the massive cabinet with its Art Deco styling. This receiver was one of the highlights of the auction. Although incomplete with incorrect knobs, it sold for $55,000.
The other high-end radio in the auction was this 1934 Zenith 1000Z Stratosphere. In very good condition and complete with the catalog, it sold for $55,000. Like the Crosley, this radio is a big dial console of limited production. It sold for $750 in 1934.