EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for February 2004
(Copyright 1996-2004 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
"Then and Now" -- these are ongoing themes for radio collectors. Our articles this month reflect interests ranging from the early days of broadcast radio and touch upon almost every decade to the 1960s. The "then" of our hobby guarantees endless fascination. But the "now" seems to be taking on greater emphasis in the proliferation of auctions, as our reports indicate.
Once again, Estes Auctions takes center stage on the auction circuit. What is impressive is not just the number of auctions, but also the quality of what is being offered. More and more significant items are showing up on the block and commanding high prices. Why should this be so?
Perhaps the whole Internet exposure to eBay has given collectors more confidence in the auction process. Or perhaps, in contrast to eBay, collectors now fully realize the pleasure of being able to see and touch items before bidding at a live auction. Whatever the reason, Estes is offering many important collections, not just estates, and it would seem that radio auctions have entered a whole new vibrant phase that will enrich many collections.
This particular Estes Auction offered something for everyone, including typical battery sets and cathedrals, as well as audio and Ham equipment. But also noteworthy was a large transistor novelty collection and oddities like a child's record player mounted in a drum and a toy TV service and repair truck.
We commend our reporter Ray Chase for his careful attention to detail, and also for his recruitment of a second reporter to handle the separate transistor radio auction -- none other than his wife Edith. As many of us know, Edith is truly a supportive "radio wife," and you will note that she too has a byline on this report as our way of saying thanks.
Though high-end items have appeared more commonly in today's auctions, Phil MacArthur's All-American Five collection, averaging $20 apiece, represents an eminently affordable end of the collectible spectrum. Phil's good news is that what was affordable in the 1960s remains so today, and he assures us that these colorful little sets are great attention getters.
Wally Worth gives "affordable" a new twist as a home-brew guy who likes to build all kinds of items. One specialty is reproductions of loop antennas, and his article includes several of his creations, as well as a few originals. Some folks liken loop antennas to the dream catchers of Native American lore, which are reputed to filter out bad dreams. Loop antennas must have been a dream come true for those looking for good reception in the 1920s.
From the 1960s to the 1920s and now to William Garner's memories of World War II in the 1940s. William's long military career covers radio operations on some equipment appearing in past A.R.C. articles. He also describes the use of pieces of cloth on the ground to communicate codes to aircraft.
It's gratifying when past A.R.C. articles prompt new ones. Like William Garner, Doug Houston was inspired by another previous article to write about his favorite radio topic -- RCA and the Victor Talking Machine Co. Doug adds interesting views on RCA's marketing policies and phonograph sound quality to Paul Bourbin's article in the July 2003 A.R.C. He also conveys the true collector's passion for a particular company and its products.
Another follow-up is from Doug Fox -- in this case, a follow-up to his own June 2003 article about his 3-tube, AC-powered "Regen." Several readers helped Doug to identify his Meissner set and provided a schematic and diagram. This is a real success story, a study in collaboration.
Jerry Wieland makes our round of the decades complete with his unusual 1950s Motorola portable. Jerry could easily have passed this one up, but he was glad he didn't after finding that it used several subminiature tubes. Why Motorola would market such a design remains a mystery.
Another 1950s Motorola portable appears in Photo Review, along with a wide variety of sets from the 1920s onward and including a British "Peoples Set."
A.R.C. Benefits. Be sure to take advantage of A.R.C. benefits: a toll-free number (866) 371-0512; the Web: www.antiqueradio.com; Discover, Visa, American Express, and MasterCard accepted; books shipped free in the U.S. by book rate; and to current subscribers, a ten percent discount on all book orders.
Coming Radio Events. As winter progresses, the number of radio events inches up from January's 34 to February's 39. They include 27 meetings, nine swap meets, two auctions, and one workshop. Two major events of the month are our own Greater Boston Antique Radio Club's Radio XXXV in Westford, Mass., where 800 or more usually attend, and the Houston Vintage Radio Association's 25th anniversary celebration. These are certainly highlights of the radio season, so be sure to get to at least one of them.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
Our cover photo by reporter Ray Chase captures the sheer magnitude of what is offered at an Estes Auction. If you haven't attended one of these auctions, you're missing the sensation of being overwhelmed when you walk in -- radios everywhere, from floor to table after table. Are they suspended from the ceiling? You owe yourself this experience.