Antique Radio Club of Illinois
Willowbrook, Illinois -- July 30-August 1, 2009
CONTRIBUTED BY DANIEL SCHOO AND ART BILSKI
As Daniel Schoo indicates in his acknowledgements, others contributed information to his report. In particular, Art Bilski provided the sometimes arduous compilation of the auction results that follow Daniel's account of this very well organized event. (Editor)
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois (ARCI) held its annual Radiofest at the Willowbrook Holiday Inn Conference Center for the third consecutive year. The hotel is in the Chicago suburb of Willowbrook, Illinois, just north of Interstate 55 on Route 83, the Kingery Highway.
Thursday, opening day, included the flea market setup, but without any selling; the first big event was the main auction. Preregistration for the auction started at 4 p.m., and the bidding started at 6:30 p.m. This year the main auction was set up in the large banquet hall and was substantially larger than last year -- 225 lots and 175 bidders. Harry Blesy called the auction and the gross sales totaled $25,650.
A wonderful collection of items was offered, including tubes, books, consoles, speakers, table radios of all ages, breadboards, battery sets, crystal sets and television sets. It took over four hours to present all of the lots. This year a new service provided by Rent-Com was the large video screen. As each lot came up for auction, a close-up was shown on a large projection screen so that everyone could see in detail what the item looked like.
Jay Volke's 1912 William Murdock crystal set entered in the contest. An excellent display, complete with documentation indicating that this set copied the distress call from the Titanic.
The highest closing bid was on a Scott Phantom Deluxe with remote and FM converter for $2,000. A Zenith Radio Nurse system sold for $1,700, and three other items closed at $1,000. The popular, club-sponsored, free pizza party followed the auction at 10:30 p.m.
The weather could not have been better. There was a light rain Thursday night, but Friday, the opening day for the flea market, was perfect with a few fluffy white clouds, high temperatures in the upper 70s and a light breeze. Donna and I started our rounds of the flea market at 7 a.m., and things were perking. As you can see from the flea market photos, trading was abundant. I noticed several sellers returning this year who had not attended Radiofest last year. Most said gasoline was less expensive, and they had some things they wanted to move out of collections. And what things they moved out!
Bret Menassa at his presentation on radio alignment.
We saw a Philco Safari, the first portable battery-operated, transistorized TV set on the consumer market, looking almost new. We saw an excellent RCA "oriental" table radio, a Sparton Bluebird, an assortment of Majestic and Arvin novelty radios, Catalins, electric fans, knobs, tubes, parts and radios from the 1920s through the present. Bill Cohn brought out a selection of high-end consumer tape decks and record changers. Bob Piekarz from Bob's Antique Radios was there with his dial lamps, Mylar capacitors, and other restoration parts. There was a lot of activity at Linda and Steve Muchow's booth. They had many boxes of 1920s parts, such as variable capacitors, knobs, transformers, meters and related components.
An entry by Michael Feldt in the old equipment contest, this is a 1927 Silver Marshall "Improved Shielded Laboratory Receiver" battery superheterodyne.
On our excursion, I bought a small infrared surveillance TV camera and a couple of 12AF6 car radio tubes. And speaking of tubes, Bob Bieker, the local tube guy from Indiana, was there with a big selection of specialty audio and radio tubes. It seems a lot of the tube guys don't come out to meets anymore, and you don't get to shoot the breeze and look over their stock.
Registration opened at 7 a.m., and the hotel was serving sweet rolls and coffee under their canopy at the far end of the Hospitality tent. Later on, they sold hotdogs, brats, Polish sausage, chips and pop (a.k.a. soda to you guys out East) for lunch. At the other end of the hospitality tent, ARCI's "cookie lady" Janet LaVelle provided cold pop, cookies, and small bags of chips for a free-will donation. The whole flea market was bustling with buyers, and several of the sellers told me that they did very well that morning.
On Friday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon, the ARCI special event Amateur radio station KC9IPB operated on 20, 40, 75 meters and 2-meter FM using vintage 1960s and 1970s equipment. Fifty contacts were made. Operating the station were Jim Novak WA9FIH, Ed Schumacher WA9GQK, Dale Svetanoff WA9ENA and Chris Farley KC9IEQ, all of whom provided equipment from their collections. Special event QSL cards were available to any Hams who contacted the station.
The old equipment contest opened for registration at 9 a.m. This year there were thirty entries. The categories were the following: Premiums from the Golden Age of Radio, Advertising and Store Displays, Microphones and Broadcasting Stations, Military/Ham/Communication Receivers, Any Communications Item before 1920, Radios of the 1920s, Radios of the 1930s, Radios of the 1940s, Radios of the 1950s and Beyond, and Open.
Keith Johnson displayed this Frederick Hart & Co., A.R.C. Recordgraph. It records audio by scribing a groove much like a typical disc recorder does, but it recorded on a special 35mm uncoated film stock in a continuous loop. The recording stylus cuts a groove along the length of the strip as the film loops through, sliding sideways over a small distance with each successive pass until the full width of the strip is recorded. This allows for exceptionally long recording capacity.
There were a number of unusual and interesting items in the contest. Bill Ross had a large display of old radio program premiums, from treasure maps to small figurines of radio characters. Jay Volke entered a Wm. Murdock crystal set in absolutely beautiful condition that had received distress communications from the sinking Titanic in 1912. A display of various types of wire recorders came from Jack LaVelle's collection. There was even an early Motorola "brick" cell phone from 1983.
One of my favorite entries was a Frederick Hart & Co. A.R.C. Recordgraph entered by Keith Johnson. I had heard about these early 1940s sound recorders, but I had never seen one. The special non-contest display this year was a selection of scrapbooks available for browsing from Dr. Adrian Peterson's vast QSL card collection.
The Ralph Muchow Best of Show Award went to Bob Sands for two Crosley Model 2C1 "Artists" and "Ships" motif, 2-tube TRF radios. The People's Choice Award was won by Jay Volke's 1912 Wm. Murdock long wave crystal set. The Best Restoration winner was John Reinicke for a 1934 RCA Model 128 table radio. The Best Historical Display was Bill Ross's "Golden Age of Radio Premiums." The Chairman's Award was won by Geoffrey Bourne for a 1920 Mignon Model RW-4 receiver.
The seminar presentations this year covered not only historical topics but practical advice on radio restoration and repair. WSL radio historian and broadcaster Scott Childers gave the first presentation. His book Chicago's WLS Radio from the Images of America series is a historical biography of one of Chicago's oldest and most beloved radio stations, as well as of the people who worked there, both on the air and off. Childers related stories of the radio personalities to whom many of us listened and came to know.
Dr. Adrian Peterson gave a fascinating presentation, not only on QSL cards, but also on many firsts in radio communications and broadcasting stations. He is a dynamic speaker who provided a view into the history of early radio, broadcasting and the people who pioneered the new technology. Samples from his extensive collection of QSL cards from all over the world provided the mileposts and starting points for his discussion of particular stations and their history. Following Dr. Peterson, Bill Ross W9WR hosted a discussion and presentation of Amateur radio gear. Demonstrations of unusual and interesting classic equipment were given.
The last presentation was a 3-part radio restoration clinic given by Ed Huether, Bret Menassa and Matt May. Collectively, they discussed how radio circuits function, with tips on test equipment, simple troubleshooting, measurement techniques, and parts replacement. Actual examples with test equipment were shown for the proper adjustment of intermediate frequency transformers, oscillators, and antenna circuits. Matt May used an oversized schematic diagram, a vintage classroom vacuum tube radio demonstrator, and an oscilloscope to show how the various circuits work and what the signals and voltages look like for a typical All American Five radio.
An early "cell phone" by Motorola, the "TacTek." Selling for $3,995 in 1983, it weighed 16 oz. It was based on the original Motorola "DynaTac," developed in 1973, which weighed 3 lbs. It contained 30 circuit boards, and you could talk for up to 35 minutes on a charge. DynaTac stood for "Dynamic adaptive Total area coverage."
Janet LaVelle's Ladies Luncheon at noon treated guests with buffet style lasagna, garlic bread and other treats. Twenty-six ladies (and a few gentlemen) filled the room this year. Janet awards all present with grab-bag gifts and good conversation.
Friday evening, ARCI president David Bart opened the awards banquet with a moment of silence for George Sopocko WA9JEZ of Glendale Heights who recently passed away. George will be fondly remembered by many ARCI members as the owner of the Radio and TV Lab in Chicago.
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois was proud to present its first ARCI Lifetime Achievement Award to Chuck Schaden on the occasion of his retirement from 39 years in broadcasting. Chuck's long-running program Those Were the Days reliving great memories and programs from the golden age of radio broadcasting began in 1970 The program currently airs on College of DuPage station WDCB 90.9 FM. Those Were the Days will continue with host Steve Darnall, editor and publisher of Nostalgia Digest Magazine, which was founded by Schaden.
Both longtime local radio broadcaster and historian John Russel and Bruce DuMont spoke about Chuck.
A Philco Safari portable television in near mint condition at Eric Fogel's flea market table.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by the West End Jazz Band playing a selection of 1920s music. They finished their performance by providing accompaniment for a silent Laurel and Hardy movie reminiscent of the days when a movie ticket was a nickel.
Saturday morning the donation auction/sale was conducted by Tom Kleinschmidt. This auction offered many inexpensive treasures and was similar in size to the previous two years. The club wishes to thank all of the donors and buyers who support the club by patronizing this auction.
Radiofest 2009 was a great success. The perfect weather and so many hard working volunteers and collectors made this a great year for ARCI. As always the club would like to thank everyone who was able to attend and all those who volunteered their time to help with the many details that go into a first class event like this. Without their help Radiofest would not be the special experience that all of us look forward to every year.
Thanks to Art Bilski for the main auction sales summary, David Bart for the awards banquet notes, and Jim Novak WA9FIH for the Amateur station summary.
The auction list follows. 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. or download PDF for complete auction listing.
©2009 Daniel Schoo
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois, (ARCI), P.O. Box 1139, La Grange Park, IL 35213, publishes "ARCI News" monthly and "ARCI Update" periodically. Dues are $15. Events are the annual August Radiofest and bimonthly swap meets. For more information: Art Bilski, (630) 739-1060. www.antique-radios.org. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.