EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for June 2004
(Copyright 1996-2004 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
Some anniversaries make us stop, stand back, and say something like "Wow!" or "Amazing!" A 20th anniversary certainly warrants that kind of excitement. We can't help but be a little in awe that we are still here doing the job that A.R.C. set out to do so long ago.
In 20 years, we have seen an extraordinary growth, not only in the number of dedicated collectors of old radios, but also in the value of our collections. Since our 15th anniversary issue, change in every aspect of life seems to have escalated. We have seen major reversals in our perception of a relatively safe world and in the perception of ourselves by other peoples. In the lesser world of publishing, we have seen changes that, though challenging to a small, specialty magazine, make us even more determined to continue to serve all of you in the radio-collecting community.
How we have tried to do that over the last 20 years is the subject of Managing Editor Dorothy Schecter's lead article. Even those of you who have been loyal subscribers since the beginning will enjoy reviewing A.R.C.'s history. Incidentally, of the original 1,817 subscribing when I took over publishing A.R.C. in 1986, there are still 466 of you loyal supporters.
This article also prompted me to think about "vintage collectors," and the late Paul Giganti leaped to mind. In 1989, we published a humorous talk he had given in 1978 on the ever-timely topic of the escalating prices of antique radios. To that 1989 article, we added a comparison of 1960s prices with those of the then current prices. Given the auction prices realized in recent years, it seemed appropriate to reprint the article and include current price estimates.
Reflecting on these increased values also gave me the chance to ramble a bit about my theory of the behavior of radio values over time. However, whatever the dollar value of a radio or collection, the only thing that counts is what the item means to you.
In fact, that thought is illustrated by Bob Enemark's article about his 1920s Crosley Model 50. Enjoyment is the key here. Bob describes this early set's unusual components, but what comes through as more important is his pleasure in operating the set.
Anyone who does a major repair job or restoration is also in it for the pleasure rendered by the finished product. Claude Chafin must have had that pleasure when he carefully documented in photos his step-by-step repair of a 1939 Fada plastic radio cabinet.
Another 1930s treasure, an advertising booklet for RCA's Radiotron tubes, surfaced in my collection and inspired this month's cover, as well as Dorothy Schecter's article. In 72 pages, the booklet covers everything you needed to know about radio -- how to buy and get the most from a radio, lists of all the stations in the U.S. and other countries, artists performing on radio, and more. All this as a sales pitch for tubes? How different from the advertising world we know today!
Photo Review covers a wide range of periods from the 1920s to the 1960s. The King Am-Pli-Tone horn speaker is an unusual early item, and four portable sets span the 1920s to the 1940s.
Of course, much of what we write about in articles is about the past, but the auction scene brings us back to the present. Once again Ray Chase reports on the leading U.S. auction house, Estes Auctions, which this time offered the collection of the late Danny Gustafson. Over half of the items, more than 500, were RCA, Danny's specialty, and as Ray says, previewing them was like going to a museum.
We always have a backlog of Estes Auctions, but we are struck by the increase in the number of European auction houses featuring radios as part of their offerings. Erwin Macho's reports on the semiannual Dorotheum auctions in Vienna regularly appear in A.R.C, and one of them represents the European scene in this issue. In addition, on June 3 in London, I look forward to attending a Bonhams auction focusing on a specific period -- from Morse to Marconi.
On May 22 in Paris, France, Sotheby's Auctions offered Pierre Lescure's collection of American popular culture, including, over 100 Catalins, blue-mirrored radios, and other Art Deco sets. On the same date in Köln, Germany, Auction Team Köln included over 100 radio, television, telegraph and other related items in an auction also of toys and office antiques. I have attended this auction in the past and know that it was worth the trip.
A.R.C. Benefits. As your summer radio activities escalate, be sure to include taking 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. Did you know that we follow the activities of over 100 radio-collecting organizations? In this anniversary issue, we publish the full list, which at this count is actually 108.
The June list of events includes 30 meetings and two major auctions -- Estes in Ohio on June 26 and Bonhams in London on June 3. Two multiday annual meets are also on the agenda -- MAARC's Radioactivity 2004 in Maryland and CARS's Radiorama in Kentucky. If you cannot attend these events, be sure to try to support whatever radio activity is in your area.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
The smiling boy on our cover is in keeping with the celebration of our 20th anniversary. This illustration is from
the cover of a 1931 RCA booklet, titled "RCA Radiotron Radio Log," an item from my collection and the subject of
an article in this issue. Booklet: © 1931. RCA Radiotron Co. Inc., Harrison, N. J.