EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for July 2002
(Copyright 1996-2002 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
Could it be that the years are getting shorter? It hardly seems possible that it was a year ago at this time that we began to herald the August Muchow auction as the "Auction of the Decade." Perhaps our prediction should really have been that this is the "Decade of Big Auctions." Though it may not be what we want to hear, many of the first generation of serious radio collectors are passing on. We miss their presence and expertise, but we delight in their legacies their carefully preserved radios dispersed through auctions to younger aficionados.
The recent auction of the Ralph Thorn collection, the subject of our lead article, is a case in point. Of course, the Ralph Muchow auction (curious that both men should have the name "Ralph") was a spectacular event, bringing in over a million dollars. No competition there, we thought last fall.
But the Thorn auction, totaling over $300,000, made us think again. If we consider only the sets offered in the Thorn auction, it compares very favorably with Muchow. Excluding the paper, the tubes, and the "junk," the average price of significant sets at both auctions was around $700.
Both were quality auctions; the major difference was in quantity. Muchow had a much broader selection of tubes and paper advertising, as well as cathedrals and consoles, while Thorn concentrated on battery sets.
Five Thorn sets sold for over $10,000 each, and all the big name manufacturers were represented. The photos scattered throughout the article will give you a sense of why 111 bidders were there.
To put the Muchow and Thorn prices in some sort of perspective, we also thought it interesting to evaluate the prices reported at the VRPS fall auction. This auction totalled approximately $40,000 a very respectable amount for a club event. Still, the average price of items was $61. In contrast, items in the two estate auctions brought in ten times as much. Obviously, estate auctions are expected to feature fine-tuned collections filled with museum quality items, and both Thorn and Muchow exceeded those expectations.
As club events go, the VRPS convention and auction is a success story, perhaps because it seems tailored to meet the needs of the attendees always a good plan. The auction is spread over two days with a small flea market on Sunday. The top dollar was $1,025 for a Zenith console.
Zenith crops up often in this issue. Richard Arnold writes about his Model 4B131 tombstone a favorite in his collection. This set is interesting in that it was a farm set converted to AC as late as 1949, rather than in the 1920s when AC power came to homes.
Alton DuBois always seems to pick up on connections between one radio topic and another. In this case, he connects the Bristol Company's horn speakers, the subject of Dave Gonshor's article in the April 2002 issue, with another of Bristol's products recording voltmeters made before 1900.
Another black-dial Zenith tombstone appears in Photo Review, along with several desirable collectibles. In particular, the Tingley Unit receiver is hard to find and is coveted by early battery collectors.
Reading Walter Hall's article on the restoration of his General Radio Type 650A impedance bridge is a nostalgic trip for me. I remember these instruments in my college lab where I learned electrical engineering. It's good to know that these beautifully made instruments are catching the interest of some collectors.
The tab saga continues in Radio Miscellanea. We realize that tabs have become a love-hate issue, but they are by U.S. Postal Service decree, so we must all learn to live with them.
In case you noticed. We're sorry to say that strange characters have cropped up on some pages in recent issues of A.R.C. The problem is that we have been in transition from the old cut and paste layout procedure to a fully digitized production. We apologize especially for the appearance of some display ads. We also continue to have some e-mail messages returned. All these difficulties are in the resolution phase.
Rachel Page Bryan, pictured here on May 14, at age 14 hours, with mom Cindie.
New Addition to Staff. Our production problems were exacerbated and our attention diverted by the early arrival of Rachel Page Bryan, pictured here on May 14, at age 14 hours. Mom is Cindie, our assistant publisher responsible for production. Cindie's absence leaves us seriously shorthanded, but we're counting on Rachel's joining the staff with her before too long.
Coming Radio Events. Summertime means the radio community is abuzz with activity. Well underway are plans for the biggest meets, such as MARC's Extravaganza in July. By now you should also have your plans in place for Elgin's Radiofest and AWA in Rochester, both in August.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
On our cover is a rare, early DeForest transmitter that to my knowledge may never have appeared before at auction. It is typical of the quality and depth of the collection of the late Ralph Thorn and is only one reason that his estate auction drew such attention.