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

Antique Radio Club of Illinois
Radiofest XVIII
Elgin, Illinois -- August 4-7, 1999


The Antique Radio Club of Illinois held its Radiofest XVIII from August 4 to 7, 1999, at the Elgin Plaza Hotel, formerly the Holiday Inn Holidome and Convention Center, in Elgin, Illinois. No rain! No Floods! No searing heat! Just beautiful weather for this event, making the outdoor activities even more of a pleasure than usual. Even the dire predictions of complacency due to the Internet did not keep the crowds away.

a DeForest RJ-4 with the incorrect tube socket and tube
A rare item that turned up in the flea market -- a DeForest RJ-4 with the incorrect tube socket and tube.

1937 Zenith Stratosphere 16-A-63
At Radiofest the theme was the Zenith Radio Co. Here is a 1937 Zenith Stratosphere 16-A-63.

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.

As is my custom, I made the rounds of the flea market early Wednesday. By noon, my count of dealers was 152. On Thursday, the count was 156. Though somewhat down, these numbers are reasonably within the range of the previous two years -- 160-170. Among the very rare items showing up unexpectedly in the flea market were the DeForest RJ-4 and the Adams Morgan RA-6. It seems that the predictions of all the good items being sold on eBay proved a fallacy. 

Outstanding presentations highlighted the daily schedule: Derek Cohn on telegraph instruments; John Williams on past, present, and future AM radio programming; and Tom Kleinschmidt on three premium radios, ca. 1948. As in the past, Dr. Ralph Muchow graciously opened his museum to the public, and free bus service was available to visitors.

1924 1-tube Pocket Radio
This 1924, 1-tube Pocket Radio by Auto Inductor Co., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, sold at auction for an amazing $425 -- a price reflecting its rarity.

Many interesting items showed up in the ten categories of the old equipment contest. A 1939 World's Fair display of memorabilia was very nicely presented. In the shortwave category, a 1938-1939 Super Clipper and an Aero Products shortwave receiver caught the eye. And perhaps most thought-provoking was an extensive display of code practice sets by Omnigraph Mfg. Co., teaching tools for learning Morse code. Here was an example of a collector's taking a seemingly ordinary item and developing it into a story. 

Radiofest is an educational, as well as a social event. This year the display room featured a large exhibit of Zenith products, from early Chicago Radio Lab items to "Walton's" radios, three different Stratosphere models, and transistor radios. Even the Zenith Company showed up with a truckload of items from its archives. Notable was a matched pair -- a radio console and an early TV with a mirror in the lid. These were displayed next to the latest high-definition TV.

An early, rare Zenith Paragon PAR and AGN-2 detector and amplifier unit
An early, rare Zenith Paragon PAR and AGN-2 detector and amplifier unit.

In addition, collectors from all over the U.S. had been contacted to bring their rare Zenith items for the display. In all, nearly 200 items were exhibited, many of which had not been displayed for decades. For some attendees, no doubt this extensive display of Zenith radios, television and other products from the early 1900s to the present was the highlight of the meet. 

As in the past, the Awards Banquet on Thursday evening was well attended. An enjoyable radio show was the featured entertainment.

Though smaller than previous years in the number of items, the auction on Friday at 3:00 p.m. proved to have some goodies. Sales totaled just under $10,000. Auctioneer Harry Blesy moved 119 good items along very efficiently for the 150 registered bidders, thereby allowing time for them to enjoy the auction and then a leisurely evening on their own.

$4000-$5000 Catalins
John Sakas priced these Catalins in the $4,000 to $5,000 range. Left to right: a pair of Fada 5F50s and an Emerson BT 245.

RCA World's Fair contest entry
A very well displayed RCA World's Fair contest entry.

Among the highlights were two sets of photographs, including photos of Edison, Marconi, Henry Ford, and other early radio-related subjects, selling at $375 and $700. A box of magazines drew surprising interest and sold at $240. Several bidders must have realized that the lot contained early issues of Television magazine, -- two copies of the dealer's prerelease issue of June 1928, as well as two 1929 copies. Other items of interest were a Crosley Pup selling at $275, a Detrola Pee Wee, at $425, an Auto Indicator Co. Pocket Radio, at $425, and a home-brew spherical Audion receiver with loose coupler, at $550. There was speculation that the audion was a repro. In general, there was a good mix of radios and radio-related items with emphasis on older battery-powered equipment. Even the club benefit auction on Saturday had an early spark coil, possibly home brew, but early nonetheless. It sold for $100, possibly a new high for the junker auction. 

Overall, Radiofest continues to be one of the major meets in the U.S. There is plenty of flea market space, and packing and shipping services are available. The only drawback for the general public is that for those not staying at the hotel, parking stretches for about a half-mile along the road in front of the hotel. Nevertheless, this meet draws many international visitors, as well as folks from around the States, and is certainly worth fitting into your plans for next August.

Photo credits:Alan Jesperson, Frank Rasada, Daniel Schoo, and John V. Terrey.

The Antique Radio Club of Illinois (ARCI) publishes the "ARCI News" semiannually, and "ARCI Update" periodically. The club holds bimonthly swap meets, in addition to the annual August Radiofest. Dues are $12. For more information write to: ARCI, PO Box 1139, La Grange Park, IL 60526.

(John V. Terrey, c/o A.R.C., Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741)

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Copyright © 1996-9 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.
Last revised: November 3, 1999.

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