The Collector's Guide to Antique Radios, Seventh Edition --
By John Slusser
REVIEWED BY JIM MONEGHAN
The Collector's Guide to Antique Radios series of books is well known throughout the radio community as the definitive reference book on radio manufacturers and their models. Each new edition of this series has added new data, such as companies not previously listed, more model numbers for the companies listed, more photographs, and, of course, updated prices to reflect changes since the last edition.
The seventh edition has done all of that and more. First, this new edition takes all of the previous information and adds fourteen new manufacturers, thus increasing the total listing to around 10,350! There are now over 1,200 color photos, an increase of 15 percent over the sixth edition. No other price/reference guide on the market has this kind of depth. That is why, in my opinion, you need to pick up a copy of this book, even if it is only for the reference to model numbers for each company.
I have never been a fan of price guides because usually by the time they reach the targeted audience, the radio collector, prices have changed. This is especially true in today's fast-paced, internet market with the explosion of the auction site eBay.
This seventh edition does a pretty good job of using average selling prices from radio shows, online auctions and geographic locations, just to name a few. I noticed that, on many radios, the range of pricing has widened; for instance, a Clapp Eastham RZ Radak in the sixth edition is valued at $820-$920; in the seventh edition, it is $740-$985.
These changes have made the seventh edition more useful and more accurate for the collector since there are many factors involved in determining price. Condition both cosmetically and electrically is the primary factor. Slusser and his Radio Daze staff have considered every possible aspect of condition, from intact knobs and push buttons to readable dials/scales, escutcheons, bezels, cabinet veneers, and completeness of internal components. Of course, on the lower priced radios, the changes are not as dramatic.
In his "Explanation of Pricing" in the book's introduction, Slusser warns that "Pricing for vintage radios, like many other antiques and collectibles, is extremely variable and dependent on many factors." In selling a radio, he also says "...it is important to be realistic about its true condition." This is what "will primarily dictate its value to a potential buyer."
The thing I like the best about this seventh edition is that Slusser has taken all of the radios with photographs and put them in the listings as well. Previous editions did not have the radios with photos in the list which created some confusion when trying to find a specific model. Not only are the photographed radios listed, but they are listed in red ink to let you know that there is a photograph that goes with it. Nice change!
Nitpicking is also a reviewer's job. The photo of the Crosley 517 "Fiver" is upside down, and the Crosley 50 pictured has the wrong tuning knob. Also, prices of a few sets are off. For example, I have found that a Kennedy XXX sells for only about 50 percent of the value listed the book, and an Atwater Kent 50 is selling for about twice the listed value.
However, the mistakes are minimal, and I don't believe that they should stop you from buying a copy of this book. I can see that a lot of time and effort went into this seventh edition, and I believe it is well worth having. I will probably use mine until the cover comes off!