Antique Radio Club of Illinois
Elgin, Illinois -- August 1-3, 2001
COMPILED FROM INFORMATION PROVIDED BY ART BILSKI and JOHN V. TERREY
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois (ARCI) held its Radiofest XX from August 1 to 3, 2001, at the Ramada Inn, Elgin, Illinois. Mother Nature cooperated with sunny, hot days, and just a little drizzle that dampened the flea market activities for only about an hour. Mercifully, the heavy torrential rains in Chicago were kept miles to the east. Perhaps it was Ralph Muchow's spirit bringing us luck.
Plenty of action is evident at this moment in the Radiofest flea market.
The talk of the meet, of course, was the Muchow estate auction, which would follow the meet. Whether it was curiosity about what was going to be sold, anticipation about buying a key piece of history, or a little grumbling about how it was being run, you could not escape talk of the auction.
Still the meet itself had its traditional attraction of an opportunity for lots of radio talk and camaraderie. The number of sellers was down slightly from last year, when, by your editor's count, there were 177 sellers on the first day. But, according to the club, overall attendance was up, as more than 700 people walked through the meet; in fact, many buyers and sellers walked it more than once.
More than likely the decline in sellers was due to the fact that the meet began in the middle of the week, as it used to do before the club changed it to a weekend event. This return to the old schedule made coordination of the meet with the Muchow auction possible. Next year, when the weekend schedule is reinstituted, there should be a rebound in the number of participants.
As always, Steve Turner brought an outstanding array of Catalin and plastic sets including a Lafayette drop handle; a Radio Glo; an Emerson; Fada "bullets;" a round Ecco; Three-Little Pigs, The Lone Ranger and Charlie McCarthy sets; a Trophy Baseball; Bendix and Garod Catalin sets.
Other changes this year were the lack of seminars, no major display -- remember the outstanding Zenith display last year -- and no auction. And, of course, there was no trip to the Muchow Museum.
If the Muchow Auction had not followed the meet, a good question has been raised, "How many people would have made two separate trips to Elgin, Illinois?" As it was, the dual event drew a wider audience than ever before, especially from foreign countries -- 11 were represented, along with 31 states. Some sellers reported a decrease in sales, while others said there was no shortage of money spent at their booths. The theory that people were holding onto money for the Muchow auction did not seem to apply across the board.
This pair of pressed wood table sets from the 1930s were contest entries. On the left is a GE L-50; on the right, an RCA R-225.
Still, apart from the flea market, there were 21/2 pre-auction days to fill, and complaints about the absence of seminars and a major display seemed justified. A meet is always more than just a flea market. One Internet posting described a day train trip to Chicago to visit the Museum of Broadcasting, as a way to fill in the time -- another reminder of how much the annual visit to Dr. Muchow's Museum will be missed.
However, the excellent contest drew some very interesting pieces. Among them were some rare early battery sets and a transistor radio in the shape of an Australian aboriginal face. In addition, the cocktail hour/reception, a casual get-together rather than a banquet, was well attended. This kind of gathering means that more people can attend and congeniality is more pervasive. Needless to say, this was also the perfect time for exchanging more predictions about how much the Muchow Auction would bring. Speculation was wide ranging, to say the least.
This unusual contest entry is a 1960s transistor radio in the shape of an Australian Aboriginal face. The tuning and volume knobs are on the side.
A very good innovation that the club continued this year was "Save a Radio Day," which was open to the public on Wednesday afternoon and on Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Old radios stashed away in attics and basements were brought in for evaluation. This practice does much to spread goodwill among the public and to achieve our primary goal -- the preservation of old radios and related equipment.
Another good feature retained from past Radiofest activities was the final morning donation auction. The going price of $1 to $5 was a great contrast to what was to come in the Muchow auction. The proceeds of this auction go to the club, and what isn't sold goes to the dumpster.
A happy collector goes home with a Grundig table model to add to his collection.
While nothing goes right 100 percent of the time, Radiofest XX can be considered a huge success. The talk about the Muchow auction and the debate about scheduling it following the meet will live on longer than many of us. But, the big event is over, and we can look forward to Radiofest XXI. Tentative dates for the 2002 show are August 9-11, 2002, so pencil in the date, while ARCI members prepare for another great time.
Photo credits: John V. Terrey, c/o A.R.C., P.O. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741. Daniel Schoo, 526 Colonial Dr., Dekalb, IL 60115. David Moore, 3213 Regal Oaks Dr., Pearland, TX 77581.
(Art Bilski, 1139 LaGrange Park, IL 60526; John V. Terrey, c/o A.R.C., P.O. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741)
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois (ARCI) holds bimonthly swap meets and the annual Radiofest. The "ARCI News" is published semiannually, and the "ARCI Update" periodically. Dues are $15. For more information, contact Art Bilski at the above address or http://members.aol.com/arci31280/arci.htm