EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for May 2001
(Copyright 1996-2000 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
For true collectors, the hunting season is on. Spring and summer mean a renewal of antique flea market and yard sale activities, as well as many more radio meets, both large and small. At these events, most of us hunt for our special interests, but Steve Auyer's article on his radio station postcards makes us question why postcards are not higher on more radio collectors' lists.
In addition to outdoor events, indoor paper and antique shows frequently have hundreds of postcards available, often categorized, and usually reasonably priced. The chances of finding radio-related postcards are good because radio was, after all, a technological revolution in the first half of the 20th century. People were proud to have a radio station in town and loved to send related cards to friends. WOC in Davenport, Iowa, may well have figured right up there with the Empire State Building with locals and passing tourists!
Although Steve's article focuses on radio station cards, the other kinds of cards that give us a snapshot of radio history are virtually limitless. As far back as our June 1988 issue, Jerry Berg wrote about efforts to preserve QSLs, the station cards confirming listeners' reception reports. EKKO stamps featured on the June 1997 A.R.C. cover had a similar function and are another "echo" of radio's past. Holiday cards with a radio theme have also appeared on A.R.C. covers.
In my own collection, postcards advertise stores and sets, explain wireless terms, and picture performers and celebrities. There are also card series, such as the Marconi wireless series, and the similar cigarette trading cards that give instructions about how to build sets.
Still others are strictly humorous, like the one with a desperate father holding an infant up to a horn speaker and saying, "Howl into that, you little demon, and perhaps later on you'll realize what your parents had to put up with." Obviously, there is no end to the fun to be had with postcards, so give those stacks of cards at your next event a serious look.
On the more serious side of our avocation is the effort we make to identify and validate the items in our collections. This is especially true of very early items that lean toward the "handmade" as opposed to mass production. Ray Bintliff has compiled an article in which Jim Sargent exchanges information with Wally Worth about Wally's loose coupler described in the August 2000 issue. Unfortunately, the mystery of the maker of Wally's loose coupler remains. However, A.R.C. continues to be a conduit for such discussions.
Richard Arnold and Alton DuBois take us into the 1940s with Philco and Zenith AC/DC sets. Some collectors might pass on such sets, but a closer look reveals something interesting about each -- a wooden version of a plastic set, an on-edge chassis, or a Deco speaker grille -- all add up to sets worth saving.
In Photo Review, we learn that early studio microphones could be deceptive -- they might look like horn speakers. And why are there Roman numerals on a Truetone radio? What if your education failed you and you never learned Roman numerals?
The last major auction event of the year 2000 was the Vintage Radio and Phonograph Society Convention in Irving, Texas. George Potter reports that over 300 attended and close to 200 were registered bidders. Nearly 900 items were offered in a sale that totaled almost $40,000. Cathedrals and a Zenith console sold in the $500 range, and several battery sets held their own. A Crosley receiver/amplifier sold at $350, while an Adams Morgan Paragon Four brought $250. Phonographs too were represented in the $200-$300 range.
This event is also much more than an auction. Seminars, a banquet, and a flea market make it well worth your putting it on the calendar for next year. Meantime, don't forget that small meets are fun too -- note Ron Lawrence's report on the Carolinas Chapter of A.W.A. winter swap meet in Columbia, South Carolina.
For many of us, much of the pleasure of collecting lies in problem-solving. Stan Lopes describes his solution to a common problem with AC/DC radios -- the resistance line cords or ballast tubes that are difficult to find today. In offering his solution, Stan also addresses other concerns that may arise if his solution is used.
Radio Miscellanea updates us on the plans for the much anticipated Muchow auction in August. Responses to articles add even more to the originals, and kudos are always welcome. Good news too comes from Leo Meyerson of World Radio Laboratories fame on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Leo convinces us that radio contributes to long life.
Internet. Response to our Web site continues to be tremendous. Subscribers have the definite advantage of accessing the ads on our target date rather than waiting for their issues. This means that you can go quickly every month to www.antiqueradio.com and maybe find the set you've wanted all your radio days.
Coming Radio Events. Nearly 50 radio events are scheduled for May. The 3rd Annual Kutztown Radio Meet is being held on May 5. May 18-19 will see hordes of radio collectors descending on the Northland Antique Radio Club's Radio Daze. That same weekend, the Canadian Vintage Radio Society offers a flea market in Winnipeg, Manitoba. If you're in England, the Vintage Technology Fair will be held again this year in Blackpool on May 20. If you can't attend these events, be sure to enjoy at least one in your own area.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
Our cover, from a postcard, depicts the Marconi Towers at Mullion, England. The card is postmarked "JA1 12" and was sent by R. Whitehead to Mr. Gawden at Keyham, Devonport. The message is brief: "Wishing you a happy prosperous New Year." However, at the bottom of the card in tiny print, Mr. Whitehead added, "Near here Marconi sent his first message to America." The card is from your editor's collection.