Carrying on with a Classic
Collector's Guide to Antique Radios, Fifth Edition
BY JOHN SLUSSER
The good news is that work of Marty and Sue Bunis has been carried on by John Slusser in a 5th edition of the well regarded "Collector's Guide to Antique Radios." Long the proprietor of Radio Daze, known for its sales and service of vintage radio and electronics equipment, John tells the interestng story of how he became an author. (Editor)
Collector's Guide to Antique Radios, Fifth Edition cover
I guess I have been fascinated with the world of antique radio ever since I was in my early teens. My father, sensing a budding interest on my part in electronics, brought home an old GE console carcass for me to putter with. Although it had no cabinet or dial glass, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of getting the set working again. I spent hours in my darkened bedroom, mesmerized by the glow of the radio's tubes and enchanted with the ability to listen to the whole world on shortwave.
During a subsequent visit to my grandfather, I proudly told him about my GE radio. Later that day, he presented me with an Atwater Kent 84 cathedral that had been stored in his attic for many years. Although a bit dusty, it was an absolutely gorgeous radio, and the fact that it was my grandfather's made it very, very special to me. Upon reflection, I believe it was that day that my passion for radio and electronics was solidified for life.
During the balance of my high school days, I eventually accumulated a collection of antique radios. Only occasionally did I test my mother's almost endless patience with having a house full of radios. Unfortunately, with the advent of high school graduation, leaving home for college in pursuit of an electrical engineering degree, and the other challenges and interests of young adulthood, I soon found little time available for my interest in radio. With space always at a premium in apartments, etc., I ultimately disposed of most of my collection.
After receiving an electrical engineering degree, I soon found myself caught up in the exploding world of computers and telecommunications. Years quickly passed by, marriage and children came along the way, and antique radio was relegated to just a fond memory. I was eventually blessed with success in a high-tech business that I had started in the early 1980s. However, with that success came a shift to a role in executive business management and more and more separation from a hands-on technology role.
Returning to Radio
About ten years ago, I began to look for a relaxing diversion from my management role and thought of the fun I had had with radio in my teens. It had been over twenty years since I had been involved with radio, and, after years engrossed in the world of digital electronics, I had no idea if there still was any appreciable interest in antique radio.
I decided to search for books that might be available on the subject and soon found a copy of the first edition of The Collector's Guide To Antique Radios by Marty and Sue Bunis in an antique shop. I was fascinated by the book and excited to learn that the world of antique radio was indeed alive and well.
It wasn't long before I found myself looking for radios at garage sales, flea markets, auctions, antique shops, and the classifieds, and carrying the Collector's Guide for reference everywhere I went. As my new collection started to grow, the Collector's Guide became more and more tattered from constant use. Soon, I learned a second edition of the Guide was available; I quickly purchased a copy and retired the first edition.
Over time, I found the Collector's Guide was an invaluable portable reference source. I was always amazed at the number of people who carried copies of various editions around at radio meets, auctions, and other events. It was funny to see that most of the copies were at least as worn from use as mine.
Before long, what started out as a search for a relaxing diversion turned into an absolute obsession with antique radio. I have since accumulated several hundred radios, and it could be easily said that I never saw a vintage radio that I did not like.
My good fortune in my high-tech enterprise provided me with the flexibility essentially to"retire," from the hectic business rat race and devote most of my time to the antique radio world. In the mid-1990s, I started Radio Daze, in Upstate New York to service and sell classic radios of the 1920s-1950s. Today, Radio Daze is on the Internet, offers a wide range of components and supplies for radio repair and restoration, and is staffed by a team of passionate antique radio enthusiasts.
Radio Daze listening room.
Becoming An Author
I must admit a bit of melancholy when I learned that Marty and Sue Bunis had decided to pursue other interests and not continue with the Collector's Guide. I reflected upon the day I found the copy of the first edition and how that event had reinvigorated my interest in antique radio. I also recalled the many, many times I had carried one or more editions of the Collector's Guide on my quest for radio treasures. Would anyone continue with the Bunises' work, I wondered?
I had met and talked with Marty several times over the past few years at various radio functions, but we never really discussed much about his efforts with the book. My curiosity overcame me, and I contacted Marty to find out more about how he and Sue went about putting the Guide together.
I learned that they had quite an elaborate card file system with a great deal of descriptive and pricing information accumulated over the years. They also had an extensive catalog of radio photos that they had taken and that others had gladly contributed to their efforts. The more I learned, the more I began to think about perhaps, just perhaps, carrying on with the Collector's Guide with my team and myself here at Radio Daze.
Well, to make a long story short, we were hooked and have now finalized the fifth edition of the Collector's Guide. Early in the process, we set some important goals for the new edition. First, we wanted to maintain the quality and integrity of the work that Marty and Sue had done over the years. Second, we wanted the content and format of each existing radio listing to be as consistently detailed as possible.
Wherever possible, missing information on tubes, knobs, types of reception, power sources, etc. is being added. Pricing information is being updated to reflect current market data and trends. Additional radio listings and many new photographs are also being included. Of particular excitement to us is the new section on the radios of E.H. Scott, the focus of our personal collecting passion.
Our efforts on the fifth edition of the Collector's Guide have indeed turned into a labor of love. It has been most interesting to take such a close look at the hundreds of manufacturers that were involved in the "Golden Age of Radio" and the thousands and thousands of models that they produced. I am sure that many more are yet to be discovered and catalogued in future editions of the Guide.
Certainly it has taken a lot of work, and we now have a great appreciation for all of the efforts that the Bunises put into earlier editions. We also have appreciated the patience of the good folks at the publisher Collector Books, while we have conducted our research, etc. Our fondest hope is that the antique radio community will find the new Guide interesting and informative and up to the standards of the classic editions of the past.
(John Slusser, Radio Daze, 7 Assembly Dr., Mendon, NY 14506)
"Collector's Guide to Antique Radios, 5th Edition" is available from Collector Books, P.O. Box 3009, Paducah, KY 42002-3009, A.R.C., and other A.R.C. advertisers for $19.95. Be sure to check suppliers for shipping information.
From A Collector Books Press Release
Radios of all types, styles, and ages can be found in most every antique store or flea market. There are now thousands of diehard collectors searching for these beautiful and often colorful radios. Radios are part of our memories and bring nostalgia into our modern day. John Slusser, well-known collector and proprietor of Radio Daze, a radio service and sales company, has compiled this heavily revised edition of our popular series with the help of his staff. Filling the need for an easy-to-use complete price guide to these collectibles, Collector's Guide to Antique Radios, Fifth Edition, gives descriptions and current values for over 5,000 models. Most other guides just list radios by model number our guide gives complete descriptions of every radio along with full-color photographs and information about the companies. The informative text provides explanations for the many confusing terms and abbreviations used in the radio field. Listed alphabetically by company, the radios are accompanied by current collector values. The book is devoted to the golden age of radios, the 1920s through the 1950s. Although the majority of these radios have long since vanished, often due to the expansion of television, many still remain as "living" examples of the quality and charm of products from this period. This book is loaded with detailed information needed to help eliminate the static for collectors everywhere. You need to tune into this one!