EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for September 2006
(Copyright 1996-2006 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
When was the last time you read a multipage, sales brochure about a radio or any other household piece of equipment? Bill Allen's 1936 Stromberg-Carlson brochure, the subject of our lead article, reminds us of how different from current times the sales pitches of the early 20th century were. Today's marketeers recognize the short attention span of the average potential customer and know that a lengthy booklet on why you should update your existing equipment is not likely to sell a product.
Still, a thought-provoking aspect of such a brochure is how the innovations it touts have also been delivered over time by later manufacturers. For example, today, the Bose Wave Radio speaker system appears similar to the Stromberg-Carlson Acoustical Labyrinth.
On the other hand, modern manufacturers fall short on delivering a product "any guest in your home can easily understand and operate," the goal of Stromberg-Carlson. Think of setting the clock on a VCR or microwave -- everything sets differently. I myself have a home theater AV receiver that requires a week's engineering to reprogram. Today's manuals can inspire "user rage," making us long for simpler days.
Overall, we collectors can learn a lot from an advertising piece that tells what a manufacturer was doing to improve a product. Furthermore, knowing more about the innards of a radio can spark an interest you didn't think was possible. Richard Arnold had long ignored farm radios until he happened upon a Stewart-Warner 9005A. The big drawback of these sets is the fact that they can't be plugged in. But, Richard made use of the Powr Shiftr, a vintage power supply that he has written about for A.R.C. The result -- he has a very satisfactory set that for him substantiates the Stewart-Warner claim of "providing a world of now entertainment."
Unfortunately, Pete Van Waesberge can not make the same claim any longer of enjoying the pleasures of his collected sets. The ravages of Katrina are depicted in his article about the effects of that devastating event. Pete's tragedy could happen to anyone and reminds us to do whatever we can to preserve our collections from flood, fire, earthquake, and whatever else nature or man may inflict on them.
Of course, as in the case of Katrina, sometimes nothing really can be done. But, we're reminded of the January 1990 A.R.C. article, in which Mike Adams, Bart Brown, and James Maxwell tell of their losses in the October 17, 1989, earthquake in the California Bay Area. They also recommend ways to prepare for the next one. We should all take heed and do what we can to safeguard a part of radio history.
On a less serious note, it's good once in a while to take a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the little addictions that might evolve from our radio-related passions. Walter Lindenbach responds to David Kraueter's June 2006 article about curing his Cable TV addiction. A little levity is always a good thing.
You might also get a chuckle out of the 1929 poem by Edgar Guest, a popular poet of the first half of the 20th century, extolling the "miracle of radio." The idea that the Grigsby-Grunow Company used the poem as a complimentary offering is another example of how things have changed in the world of advertising.
On a more serious note, Howard Stone contributes a review of Ian Sanders' Tickling the Crystal 3: Domestic British Crystal Sets of the 1920s. This is a glowing review of a beautifully executed book, obviously the author's labor of love. With this volume, Sanders updates the previous two and completes his definitive work on British crystal sets. Kudos to Ian and our thanks to Howard, who has written articles for us on foreign sets himself and is an excellent judge of the value of this book.
Crystal sets, along with what seems like something for everyone, also appear in Ray Chase's welcome report on another Estes Auction. Consoles were a big draw, with two Zeniths selling at $1,500 and $1,550 respectively. But, the overall picture was of an auction where one could pick up desirable items at reasonable prices. Richard Estes has fast become radio's primary auctioneer. Perhaps you saw him in action at the AWA Convention in late August.
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. Fall is always a busy time for collectors, as the weather still lends itself to outdoor activities. The calendar lists 32 total events, including 21 meetings, 5 meets, and 6 auctions. Hope you make it to more than one of these events.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
Our cover reproduces the cover of the Stromberg-Carlson brochure "How to Choose a Radio," which was contributed by Bill Allen and is the subject of our lead article. Though the set is a 1937 Model 145L (never so identified in the text), the brochure has a 1936 copyright by the Stromberg-Carlson Telephone Mfg. Co., Rochester, N. Y. As we know, model production years frequently overlapped.
Printed without comment
We continue to receive reports from advertisers of e-mail responses to their classified ads proposing to pay them with a check, sometimes via a third party, in excess of the purchase price. The seller is asked to refund the difference by wire. In more than one case reported to A.R.C., the check received was "bad."
To minimize problems, we suggest that you always know whom you are dealing with or ask for references.