EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for March 2001
(Copyright 1996-2000 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
"What did you look at while you were listening to the radio?" So asks a child being shown an old radio in a cartoon long displayed on an A.R.C. office wall. Hard to describe a world of no TV, only radio, to anyone born in the last half century. Harder still to describe a time when, even though the new wonder of communication was on the market, it was a luxury and not affordable by the average family.
What was the alternative to paying $169 -- perhaps a month's salary -- for the Westinghouse RC on our cover? Build one yourself, of course. But how? Enter the purveyors of hosts of books with titles like "Radio Primer" or "Radio Experimenter's Guide." These early "how to" books were tutorials on what came to be known as the "home brew," which Bill Corkutt heralds in our lead article as a joy to collect.
As Bill points out, probably a million home brews were built in the early 1920s with the aid of these primers. One primer that he cites is Henley's 222 Radio Circuit Designs, published in 1924, in which 222 radio circuits range from simple crystal and 1-tube sets to more complex 8-tube superheterodyne circuits. This 272-page book sold for $1, a first step in the process of acquiring a bargain radio.
Bill describes four specific sets that he takes pride in having restored. He reminds us that many of the builders of these sets were talented, careful craftsmen who created beautiful designs, both visually and mechanically, for reasonable prices. For them, building a radio was an art rather than a science. Bill makes a convincing argument that collectors should not overlook home brews that tell the stories of these early radio artisans.
Once again an article conveys the thrill of a find -- and a bargain to boot! William Demetriou tells how he luckily acquired his blue plastic RCA Victor 1-X-55 at a bargain price after going back for a second look. He then describes how he restored it with a few basic tools, something he recommends to all of us.
After learning how to put together a modestly priced collection from the above articles, you will want to look at the Dorotheum and Stanton auction reports in this issue. Attending auctions and meets is a wonderful way to add variety to your collection, often at reasonable prices. Though we have only the highlights of the Stanton auction, such as an Emerson Catalin selling for $1,400, the photos give examples of the variety and quality of the sets offered. This is another house that accepts absentee bids, thereby broadening the appeal.
In the Dorotheum auction, Erwin Macho records several items sold at $500 and more. The photos from the catalog indicate that style seems to have been important in European sets. Many U.S. collectors recognize this fact and have a significant number of European sets in their collections.
Large and small radio events are happening around the country throughout the year. We're always glad to receive reports about such events and appreciate John Reinicke's description of the MARC fall meet in Michigan and Kevin Grimm's account of the BARPC fall auction in Ohio. These local events often draw collectors from afar and do much to foster radio collecting.
When capacitor problems arise, we refer them to our engineer/staff member Ray Bintliff. Ray was convinced that Delbert Bivens' capacitor problem, described in last month's issue, was a rare one. Ray is now eating "humble pie," as he has discovered that the problem he was having with a local oscillator in a Pilot Dragon was, indeed, a capacitor. So, as Ray warns, be aware that "lightning could strike" a third time in your radio.
Photo Review pictures items from the earliest days of spark to a 1940s battery-operated portable. Toss in the very popular Zenith "Walton" and the very scarce Grebe RORN RF amplifier and you have an interesting mix.
Again speaking of bargains and surprise finds, Radio Miscellanea tells of an Edison cylinder phonograph that could have been mistaken for a sewing machine. And don't miss the notice of a novel way to play wire recordings.
But, perhaps the news that will really catch all eyes is the formal notice of the auction of the renowned Muchow Collection. We expect this auction to be the highlight of the year. It will be held in Elgin, Illinois, on August 3-5, in conjunction with the annual Radiofest beginning on August 1. Both sets of organizers are already working to maximize enjoyment and minimize conflict. Make your reservations early.
Internet. If you're not checking our Web site regularly, you might be missing something. We're getting 10,000 visitors to the site every month, so they must be finding much of interest. Be sure to check the ads as soon as they are posted, and while online, you can renew your subscription, choose books and price guides, check out radio events, and read an article or two.
Coming Radio Events. There are over 40 events scheduled for March with the spotlight on auctions: March 4, the Buckeye Antique Radio & Phonograph Club spring auction; March 14, the Rivenburg's Auction Gallery radio consignment auction; March 17, the Vintage Radio & Phonograph Society spring auction; and March 31, the H&A Auction Co.'s antique radio collection auction. On March 22-24, the Carolinas Chapter of the AWA will hold its annual spring meet. Attend an auction or meet this month; you'll be glad you did.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
Our cover reproduces the cover of a "how to" book published in 1922. It is from your editor's collection. The title page says, "Wireless Telephony Explained in Simple Language for the Use of Amateurs who wish to know how to Make, Use, or Adjust a Home Radiophone. With Pictures, Diagrams, Broadcasting Maps, and complete Directions for Constructing and Operating Receiving Outfits." Not a bad deal for 35¢ in 1922.
Here's a larger view of this month's cover!