EDITOR'S COMMENTSFrom Antique Radio Classified for April 2008
(Copyright 1996-2008 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
Many of us vintage radio collectors take pride in the wide diversity of our collections; others are dedicated to one or two manufacturers, periods, or styles. Whatever works for you -- whether high or low-end models or everything in between -- is what counts. And A.R.C. tries to cover all your interests at one time or another in these pages.
"Thinking big" is not an uncommon American trait, and big systems are an intriguing aspect of radio history. Throughout this issue, we picture grand sets, some of which are wonders of their time, as well as a home music system of yesteryear. Start with our cover which portrays an actual large building designed in the shape of a TV set, and then move on to General Sarnoff's comprehensive 1940s entertainment system, to Chris Jones's big 1960s Magnavox console, and to several models of super-sized sets in our latest auction reports. The good news is that there is still interest in preserving such sets, even if it's only one console, and even if it does take up room.
Room per se was not Chris Jones's problem. Preserving the room was -- preserving it, that is, from his dog's inclination to pretend that the room was outdoors. Chris's solution to make the room an entertainment center with a Magnavox console as its focus continues to work well for his family, but Scooter, the dog, required another solution.
Over a fifteen year period, Chris has nurtured that console as little problems came along, but, overall, it has been a good, steady performer for playing LP records for listening and dancing. This is an example of often readily available sets that you can acquire for a reasonable sum, if not free -- sets that you can sometimes take home and enjoy right away.
That, of course, would not have been true of General Sarnoff's home entertainment system of the late 1940s. Though even today, and certainly since the 1970s, central music systems have been installed in homes, these are still upscale residences for the most part.
Ray Bintliff presents a unique insider's view of a then state-of-the-art system, which included a remote-controlled record player and radios, as well as sound feeds from the NBC studios. Oh yes, less influential folk may have had speakers in more than one room, but Sarnoff took it to the limit with remote control. And size would certainly not have been an issue with him in his spacious Manhattan home.
Size too seemed not to be the first consideration in the 1984 Georgia auction described in Tom Burgess's report. Tom's memory of this auction was triggered by Jim Sargent's, Bob Lozier's and my own 2007 reminiscences about the 1982 Orr auction. The E.H. Scott Philharmonic in a Gothic Grand cabinet pictured is a case in point. Prices then compared to now are also eye-catching.
But those were the days before the internet and when there were fewer club events. Auctions like this were not common and collectors were no doubt more willing to pick up treasures of any size.
On the other hand, Ray Chase's report on another Estes auction pictures a sufficient number of large sets to indicate that interest in them will never fade. Note the large drum-style Ozarka speaker and the two grandfather clocks, not to mention the first commercial RCA color TV, the star of the show. (Although identified as a Model CT-1 at the auction, our research suggests it might be a Model CT-100 or perhaps an earlier Model 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Any thoughts out there?) Nowadays, collectors are more apt to plan to travel to an auction in a vehicle large enough to pick up whatever comes their way.
Of course, auctions include items of varying sizes. At the other end of the spectrum in the Estes auction is the Auto Indicator Co. Pocket Radio which is only 4" x 12" x 2". We again picture unusual items, such as the United-Lan-Sing 150 and the 4-unit George Walker combination.
But a set doesn't have to be unique or large to be worth preserving. We can be grateful for people like Dick Parks who dives into restoring a "fixer-upper" like his Tom Thumb portable, and then takes photos to record his work and share it with us.
Sharing thoughts and ideas is the purpose of Radio Miscellanea, which this month seems to indicate that we're doing something right. The responses to Daniel Schoo's article on the Golden Leutz in the October 2007 issue are particularly gratifying. We sometimes hesitate to publish long, detailed articles because they might offer more than some readers want to absorb. However, it's good to know that many of you appreciate such detailed reporting.
Letters of appreciation for auction reports, our online presence, book offerings, and ad responses are also welcome. We want you to know that we're not resting on our laurels here, but trying always to put out a better magazine.
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. Time for collectors to come out of hibernation and start to attend some of the various activities in the offering. Listed this month are 26 meetings, 14 meets, and 5 auctions. Be sure to fit at least one into your schedule.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
Our cover photo is from a postcard in the John V. Terrey collection. The legend on the back of the card is titled "The Famous Television House." It goes on to say that Mr. Yort Wing Frank, a Chinese American, rebuilt his business building in Pasadena, California, in the shape of a television set, which had become a "must see" for tourists. Perhaps someone out there knows more about the history of this building.