EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for April 2006
(Copyright 1996-2006 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
Few would dispute the long established idea that a picture speaks louder than words. Perusing the reports on two major auctions in this issue, I realize that the numerous photos are telling the story of our radio collecting hobby. Photos of individual sets from the 1920s through most of the 20th century, reflect what has captured the imaginations of today's collectors. Photos of the collectors themselves actively engaged in meets and auctions show that the hobby is alive and well.
Nowhere was that engagement more evident than at the Vintage Radio and Phonograph Society (VRPS) 2004 Convention in Mesquite, Texas. This event is one I enjoy attending, and despite the tardiness of the report, I wanted to publish it and give you the full flavor of its success.
As many of you know, the reporter, George Potter, works for FEMA. Given the national emergencies of the last few years, he had every reason to put this report on a back burner. But, we would welcome it at any time, not only because of the outstanding auction, but also because of the variety of well-planned events centering around VRPS's 30th anniversary.
To commemorate those 30 years, a CD containing photos and events over three decades was available for purchase during the convention. This project was the result of a yearlong effort by Blake Dietze and George Potter, who certainly deserve kudos for compiling this record of club history.
Other memorabilia were also available. Each registered attendee received a free polo shirt with the VRPS logo and "Celebrating 30 years, 1974-2004" embroidered on the sleeve. Similarly adorned duck bill caps, with the addition of the Texas flag, were on sale. Few left on Sunday without some token apparel confirming their allegiance to VRPS.
Another unusual highlight was the recording on wax cylinders of songs by the Dallas Blend, a barbershop quartet that entertained at the banquet. An original recording reproducer and a 12-foot galvanized horn were used and became a focus of interest. This recording on 100-year-old equipment was also played back so that we could really appreciate how recordings were made in the early days.
Detailed photos of this equipment are shown in the report, as well as many other rarely seen items. Three examples are an early version of the Grebe RORK detector and 2-stage amplifier, an RPM Atwater Kent breadboard-looking set, and a 1923 Ozarka portable. Also shown in several shots is what looks like a toy record player. However, it is, in fact, a bright blue and yellow GE magnetic recording and playback toy. It must have been a joy to a child of the times.
Looking at the VRPS photos, I'm also reminded of what an opportunity such an event is for meeting friends, old and new. One photo shows VRPS President Jim Sargent in his home with part of his collection in the background. Jim was more than willing to comply with my request to see his collection, and I'm sure most collectors would do the same. I urge you to do as I did and ask to see a collection if you happen to be in the home area of the collector.
VRPS definitely put emphasis on the five auctions spread over two days. The flea market runs only on Sunday morning, a departure from the schedule of most meets. The auction proceeds of $57,000 were a respectable high for a club auction.
Big numbers were in evidence in the Estes auction featuring the collections of Ed Sage and Floyd Stahl and totaling $261,095. The highlight is easy to spot -- a 1936, 46-inch, blue-mirrored Nocturne selling at $62,500. Many other mirrored sets sold for over $1,000, even though a number of them had replaced glass or damage of some sort.
Blue-mirrored sets by Sparton are well known, but photos in this report are notable because they show the products of many lesser known manufacturers: Cord, Pomonette, Troy, Mir-Ray, Remler, and Liberty Phone. Of course, more traditional sets also brought solid prices. Examples are a McMurdo Masterpiece 6 selling at $8,000, a Zenith 15U269 console at $1,700, and a Radio Bar selling at $1,000.
As always, Photo Review means more interesting photos. Every collector should find something to catch the eye, from the unusual and rare Marconi unit set to the DuMont TV set. Crosley, Kennedy, Echophone, and Zenith are also represented in varying models. Variety is a continual theme in this issue.
A.R.C. Benefits. Be sure to take advantage of A.R.C. benefits: a toll-free number (866) 371-0512; Discover, MasterCard, American Express, Visa accepted; the Web, www.antiqueradio.com; books shipped free in the U. S. by USPS media mail; and for current subscribers, a 10 percent discount on all book orders.
Coming Radio Events. Spring activities are revving up. The April list includes 37 events: 26 meetings, 9 meets, and 2 auctions. Be sure to attend at least one in your area.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
Our cover shows a selection of mirrored radios from the Ed Sage collection auctioned by Estes Auctions. Left, top to bottom: a blue Cord "Triangle," selling at $3,300; a 4-knob Sparton 558 "Sled," at $5,000; and a green Cord with a mermaid motif, at $4,200. Right, top to bottom, a green Federal, selling at $5,000; a Pomenette, with a mosaic look, at $1,300; and a 3-knob version of the Sparton "Sled," at $2,500.