Antique Radio Classified
A.R.C.--The National Publication For Buyers And Sellers
Of Old Radios And Related Items--Published Monthly

Muchow Estate Auction Report




The following is essentially Part 2 of the Muchow Auction Report. It is both a listing of all items and a special "Photo Review." We urge you to reread last month's preview article, which contains commentary, photos, and highlights not repeated here. We also suggest a review of Steve Muchow's June article, which will round out the story. Our intent has been to give you as complete and comprehensive a report as possible. Though a large task, it was well worth the effort. (Editor)

eager bidders
A view of the line of eager bidders waiting for doors to open for the preview of the auction offerings. Could that be Ed Bell's face at left mashed against the glass? Up left is Ernie Hite and at right, is a collector from Sweden. Who else can you identify?

When all is said and done, the Muchow auction was a spectacular event. Many collectors had planned for over a year to attend, no matter when it might take place. Those who came from all over the U. S. and from eleven foreign countries were not disappointed. They came with money in hand and spent $984,906 plus a 5% buyer's premium that made the total $1,034,151. Richard Estes reports that additional lesser Muchow items were distributed over three earlier auctions for $40,000, with remainders from the main auction to come in his October 20th auction. To our knowledge, such proceeds exceed the totals of any recorded old radio auction to date.

Echophone F
Echophone F
This Echophone F, a 5-tube regenerative TRF set, sold for $550.

In compiling the following report, we used figures from both the auction house and Ray Chase who, along with his wife Edith, performed the incredible feat of recording information for three days running. Considering that errors could have occurred on both parts, the two tallies are amazingly close -- a difference of less than $250.

For the tubes auctioned on the first day, we have also used figures compiled by Jerry Vanicek and Randell Renne and forwarded to us by Ludwell Sibley. Some of Jerry's comments on that auction are incorporated into the tube section of this article. Tubes auctioned on the third day, as recorded by Estes and Chase, are also included.

"the first electric alarm clock."
Dr. Muchow called this "the first electric alarm clock." Though not a radio, it is a beautiful piece. Above the face are the words, "Flashlight Electric Alarm," while the lower left reads, "Fireproof Safety Deposit." The coin slot upper left suggests that saving pennies was to be encouraged.

Richard Estes certainly deserves accolades for an outstanding job of communicating and tabulating information during the auction. Consider that 1,733 lots passed the block in about 26 hours over three days. That's a rate of approximately 68 items per hour, or expressed in dollars, about $38,500 per hour. One hour at the Muchow auction exceeded the total of many club auctions -- certainly awesome in almost anyone's book.

There was disappointment however, that with a year to prepare, Estes had not published a comprehensive catalog with preassigned lot numbers. Lack of knowledge of the order of sale was also a complaint. Although a New York- or London-style auction may not have been required, many bidders, especially those traveling long distances, felt that a notch up from a "country auction" would have been more appropriate. Nevertheless, the final result speaks well for Estes.

Marconi 106D
Modified to a "D" from a "B," this Marconi 106D, was manufactured for RCA by the GE Company. It sold for $15,000.

In the days and hours before the auction, speculation about the potential total proceeds was rampant. Your editor took a poll of 19 people just for the fun of seeing who would come closest to the actual sum minus the buyer's premium. Estimates ranged from $750,000 to $2,500,000. The "winner" was "surfer" Stewart Oliver from California who came amazingly close with an estimate of $983,000, only about $2,000 off. "Runners-up" were "soft-spoken" Jack Weatherbee also from California and "Majestic nut" Chip Taylor from Florida with estimates of 1 million.

The numerous higher estimates -- 12 of the 19 were over 1 million -- might be an indication that people expected prices to be even higher than they were. If so, some went home with smiles on their faces because they spent less money than they were planning to spend.

De Forest 15-panel  set
Any collector would love to own this De Forest 15-panel set, which sold for $14,000. The 15 panels are mounted and wired together to make a radio, including 2 vacuum tubes, a crystal detector, and a 3-coil mount.

Ralph Muchow was primarily an equipment collector. While he did buy a few interesting tubes from other collectors, his tube collection was mainly assembled from hamfest and other original finds. Although he had previously traded some of his rarer tubes to tube collectors, the collection gives insight as to what tubes could be found in the earlier days of collecting.

Overall, tube prices were moderate. The greatest buys were in the area of European tubes and transmitting tubes, such as De Forest Oscillions, which sold for less than half of their current market value. Western Electric tube prices were low considering that the tubes were original finds, unchecked for emission.

6-tube Magnavox AC-3, Model B
A rarely offered, 6-tube Magnavox AC-3, Model B sold for $2,400. This price was in line with the two that sold in the 1995 Ford Museum auction for $1,800 and $2,700.

The paper and advertising bidders had to think they were in Wonderland. Buyers who specialize in a particular manufacturer saw things they'd never seen or hoped to buy in their lifetimes. Almost every sign could be called a "highlight," but other items also excited much interest. For example, a 15-year run of QST brought $1,300, while a 4' x 8' Stromberg-Carlson tapestry wall hanging sold for $2,600, and a display of Brandes headphones sold for $1,400.

For the general radio auctions, folks came to see and bid on the vast number of unique and the rare items that characterized Ralph Muchow's collection. As with the tubes, Muchow had been selling significant items from his collection for several years. Certainly among the unique was the Admiral Byrd receiver purchased for $33,500 by James Pritzer of the Planetary Studies Foundation. This organization intended to take the receiver on another trip to the North Pole and thereby recreate an important moment in radio history. However, out of concern for its preservation, the organization has decided not to take the receiver to the extreme climate of the North Pole. This is the kind of caring future Dr. Muchow must have envisioned for his treasures.

large spark coil, manufactured by Queen & Co., Inc., of Philadelphia
This large spark coil, manufactured by Queen & Co., Inc., of Philadelphia, sold for $2,500.

In the October issue, we presented a listing of items selling at over $1,000. As promised, the following is the entire listing of 1,734 items recorded by our intrepid reporters during all three days. The presentation is in three sections, as it was in the auction: tubes, paper and advertising, and radios and related items. For purposes of clarity, we have moved items that might have appeared in an inappropriate section of the auction into the more logical section; for example, the tubes on the third day, or some paper and advertising in the general radio section. The listed prices do not include the 5 percent buyer's premium.

We cannot thank our reporters enough for their diligence in recording such a large number of items as accurately as they did. In addition, we have been overwhelmed with offers of photos. We thank all of you who have offered and hope you enjoy seeing some of them on these pages.

And finally, we thank the Muchow family for sharing a great radio treasure with A.R.C. and the radio collecting community throughout the world.


This 1-tube Kennedy 110 receiver sold for $2,100.

See print version for auction prices.

Photo credits: Ray Chase, 1350 Marlborough Ave., Plainfield, NJ 07060. William Kendrick, 1126 Fay Rd., Kemah, TX 77565. David Moore, 3213 Regal Oaks Dr., Pearland, TX 77581. John V. Terrey, c/o A.R.C., P.O. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741.

(Ray Chase, 1350 Marlborough Ave., Plainfield, NJ 07060. Estes Auctions, 7404 Ryan Rd., Medina, OH 44256; (330) 769-4992; Randall Renne, 4909 W. Edgewood Rd., Dixon, IL 61021. Ludwell Sibley, 102 McDonough Rd., Gold Hill, OR 97525. John V. Terrey, c/o A.R.C., P.O. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741. Jerry Vanicek, P.O. Box 4743, Chicago, IL 60680.)

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