Burbank, Ohio -- April 16, 2005
Reported by Ray Chase
All elements were there for a spectacular auction a beautiful day in spring, along with a stellar collection of radio treasures and the record crowd was not disappointed. The Estes auction on April 16 at Expo Auction center in Burbank, Ohio, featured the collection of Arthur Aseltine from Ann Arbor, Michigan, in addition to other consignments. The Friday evening viewing was well attended, but there were few consoles, box lots, and other "under the table" offerings. That changed on Saturday morning when loads of box lots and consoles were brought in, and the undersides of the tables filled up rapidly.
This auction featured an impressive list of wireless sets, Kennedys, DeForests, Grebes, crystal sets, advertising pieces, books and ephemera. The 10 Atwater Kent breadboards included three Model 10s and several Model 8s and 9s. There were few or no novelties, transistor radios, military radios and only a couple of ham items. The "good stuff" really brought the buyers out, and by auction time, the parking lot was overflowing.
This 25-tube Zenith Stratosphere was the top-dollar item in the auction. Although its speakers were missing, it sold for $40,000.
This was a large sale. I recorded well over 700 lots and missed quite a few, so the final total was probably over 800 lots. The 104 tube lots were more than the usual number and offered some rare tubes, including five or six Audions.
The method of sale of the books and ephemera was by "choice" from one of several display racks where the books and ephemera were laid out. In this method of auctioneering, the buyers are bidding on the opportunity to buy one or more items at the final knock down price per item; that is, the winning bidder may take one or more items at the bid price for each item chosen. This continues until all items on that rack are sold. As the number of items on the rack dwindles, the auctioneer may offer all remaining items for one price.
This type of sale makes it very difficult to keep track of what items are sold and what price is realized, so the detailed listing does not record many of the book and ephemera items. Also, in the afternoon, several simultaneous side auctions were held to deal with the bulk tube lots, miscellaneous box lots, and test equipment under the tables. I was not able to record these auctions.
A special note regarding console radios: Often we hear a general comment about how console radios do not sell and are not appreciated. Certainly there is the size and transportation problem, but let me offer the following accounting.
There were over fifteen consoles from the 1930s and 1940s in this sale. Nine of them sold for a total of $210, or slightly less than $25 each. Six of them sold for a total of $12,400 or slightly over $2,000 each and this did not include the Zenith Stratosphere. So the message here is that superior consoles bring superior prices, while average or below average consoles bring low prices. If it's good, it will sell.
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.
This Wireless Specialty IP-500 sold for $5,500.
But there is always the exception: a Capehart Model 111K3 with "flip over" record changer, in excellent condition a very nice radio in my opinion, albeit a bit on the large and heavy side sold for a mere $10. A clear case of the right buyer not being present or not having the ability to transport it.
But what about the Zenith Stratosphere, the star of the show? This Stratosphere was clearly in the best shape of any I've seen, but then, one does not get the opportunity to see that many. A couple of knobs were not correct, and one small escutcheon was missing, but the major problem was that the two speakers were gone. Otherwise, it was in excellent condition.
Richard Estes announced that he had identified two sources of speakers: The first had one speaker available, while another was willing to sell two speakers. Unfortunately, Richard could not induce the potential seller to consign the speakers to this sale, but he offered to pass on the appropriate contact information to the buyer.
This DeForest RJ-5 detector box with single-wing Audion (not shown) sold for $5,000.
The bidding on this set opened at $10,000, and within seconds was at $40,000, which was the ultimate sale price. Unfortunately, the buyer is in Europe, so another American treasure ends up across the pond. Anyway, as I've said before, each Estes auction is like a trip to a new radio museum where you can touch and even purchase museum quality artifacts.
As usual, Richard conducted the auction nonstop from 10:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. I stopped recording at 5:55 p.m. and missed quite a few lots in the last hour while checking out myself. The dollar total that I recorded was $250,000, and with the lots that I missed, the total surely was $260,000, not including the 5 percent buyer's premium charged at this location. Surely, this was a "barn burner" of an auction.
One final thought I keep trying to remember to take some pictures in the parking lot at the end of the sale. It's quite a sight to see some of the eager buyers trying to stuff their many purchases into obviously overloaded cars and trucks, especially those who had overindulged in the bulk and box lots. Oh well, I guess that's half the fun of it.
High-end consoles sold well. This 15-tube Zenith 15U272 in very good condition sold for $6,500.
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, gf=good fil, 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 with nonspecific descriptions are omitted. See print version of A.R.C. for complete auction listing.
(Ray Chase, 1350 Marlborough Ave., Plainfield, NJ 07060; Estes Auctions, 7404 Ryan Rd., Medina, OH 44256; (888) 769-4992; firstname.lastname@example.org)