EDITOR'S COMMENTSFrom Antique Radio Classified for July 2008
(Copyright 1996-2008 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
Memories of the past are an integral part of vintage radio collecting. Sometimes a set offered in a flea market or auction is the one you remember in your grandfather's living room or on your mother's kitchen counter. Sometimes that ad in a vintage magazine or that recording of an old radio show can catapult you back to your youth. So it was for me with the colorful punchboard on our cover, a piece of ephemera sent by Richard Arnold to enhance his article on the Sonora Gem, our lead article this month.
Many of you may join me in that stroll down memory lane, or rather that purposeful walk around the neighborhood selling punches. This seemingly innocuous gambling gimmick was intended, of course, to promote radio sales. Each punch had a hidden name, also listed on the back of the card, where the buyer wrote his name. As with today's lottery, he might get a little cash back or, if really lucky, he won the radio! For the enterprising young salesman, this was business big-time.
In sharing this bit of Sonora ephemera with us, Richard Arnold reminds us that such a piece, along with catalogs, pamphlets, and advertising material, can increase our understanding of a manufacturer's history. His article traces the use of plastic in the evolution of the colorful Sonora Gem. He also pursues a lead to a living designer of the original Gem, thereby gaining even more insight into the radio history of the 1940s.
Phil MacArthur takes us into the 1950s-1960s with a question: Why do so many of us collect Zenith transistor radios? Surely, the easy answer is that they are fun and inexpensive. But, Phil outlines the interesting history of the Zenith Royal 500 Series with its six versions, five of which had only subtle differences. Despite heavy competition, the Zenith 500 maintained its high quality and commanded a high price for over a decade -- surely a record deserving attention.
Auctions always deserve our attention. Ray Chase reports on the Estes auction of the Talbot Collection, which had more than the usual quantity of phonographs and TVs. It also offered a number of unusual items, such as the home brew in an oversized cabinet and the GE Electric Model 695. An ornate Sparton 301 console would be an eye-catcher in any collection, if space allowed. And topping the high-end radios, an impressive Philco 38-690 brought $2,100. As Ray points out, bad weather can be a factor in keeping proceeds down at an auction, but it can also allow for bigger bargains for buyers.
The weather was certainly not optimal either for the Kutztown Radio Show in May, but as Stan Saeger and John Hagman report, folks didn't seem to notice because they were having such a good time. They also had the option of shelter under the pavilion.
This meet, hosted by the Delaware Valley Historic Radio Club (DVHRC), has been growing and enjoying greater success with each year. The quality auction added this year was so well received that it will be continued. Again photos in the report show some unusual items -- always a part of the adventure of attending such a meet.
A troubleshooting adventure is the subject of Roger Schreur's article on his pursuit of the hum in an RCA Radiola 60. After a long, deliberate process of elimination, Roger found the problem. Ironically, the solution proved to be simple -- just separate two wires that had shorted. What Roger really proves is that though a solution may be simple, finding it is not. Persistence is the key to success.
It could be said that Clark Trissell, a frequent contributor to Photo Review, is the success story of those pages this month. Five items happen to be his sets, running the gamut from a battery set to a TV and others in between. This must be a reflection of the variety in his collection. We appreciate his multiple contributions, as well as those of Del Tysdal and Carl Steinberg.
We also appreciate Les Layton's correction of our statement in the September '07 issue that radio fax was no longer used. We are reminded of Mark Twain's famous response from London to a U.S. publication of his obituary, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." As Les tells us, the National Weather Service keeps radio fax alive and well.
Late June Issues. Fortunately, the U.S. Postal Service loses, or delivers late, only about a dozen of our nearly 4,000 issues each month. However, for the June issue, more than five dozen have met this fate. Although it is the post office's error, we replace lost issues and compensate subscribers with an extra month.
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. Summertime is flea market, yard sale, search-for-radios time. There are 27 meetings, 9 meets, and 3 auctions listed this month, so get out there and enjoy.
John V. Terrey, Editor
In the "On the Cover" section of the June 2008 issue, we made an obvious error -- the DeForest BC-14A crystal receiver is from 1918, not 1948. Thanks to subscriber Charlie DeFir for drawing this to our attention.
ON THE COVER
The subject of our colorful cover photo is a Sonora punchboard from the collection of Richard Arnold. As mentioned above, these cards were advertising gimmicks by which a buyer would pay a small amount to punch out a name which might be the winner of a radio.