VOLUME 16 SEPTEMBER 1999 NUMBER 9
EDITOR'S COMMENTSFrom Antique Radio Classified for September 1999
(Copyright 1996-9 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.) EDITOR'S COMMENTS
One thing is indisputable -- we're in sight of the turn of the century. But, antique radio collectors are reluctant to let the 20th century, so steeped in radio history, slip away. That's why our lead story by Ray Thompson and Dave Gonshor and our cover struck me as symbolic of multiple aspects of that history.
To begin with, Atwater Kent was at one time the largest radio manufacturing company in the country. One of its products and the focus of our lead article was the Radiodyne, which, at first glance, might not seem particularly noteworthy. But, on closer examination, the set suggests a story that is multifold.
First, it takes us back to the times when a radio's innards were completely exposed, unlike the covered chassis and slick exteriors of today. Even the vacuum tube sits in full view on the Radiodyne breadboard.
Second, the Radiodyne is a transition set in that it represents Atwater Kent's attempt to meet the new demands of the marketplace. This was a time when the government had opened up more radio frequencies so that the number of stations available to listeners greatly increased. In turn, manufacturers like Atwater Kent were challenged to meet the need to provide more selective tuning, and the TRF became a popular solution.
The Radiodyne dial on our cover represents Atwater Kent's entry into that competitive field. In short, the Radiodyne story could be said to be representative of the technological and broadcasting history of radio in the mid-1920s.
Zenith, another great company in radio history, caught Richard Arnold's attention with a plastic table model that is a bit out of his usual line of cathedrals and tombstones. But, like most of us, Richard couldn't pass up a bargain. The style and functionality of the Model 6D015 intrigued him, and best of all -- it worked!
Rich Urmano's brush with radio history in the form of a very old crystal set has much of the same flavor of intrigue with the unusual. The story has a different twist in that his crystal set in an old butter box proved beyond repair. But, a book, an unexpected gift, gave him the information and the inspiration he needed to recreate the set -- a project that increased his admiration for the creators of these early sets.
How to enjoy these products of bygone days beyond their restoration and preservation is the subject of Herb Parsons' article on old radio shows. Herb, an A.R.C. advertiser, reminds us that radios were meant to be listened to, and there's no better way than to tune in to the great shows of yesteryear.
The subject of Dave Crocker's short piece is the old photo of Powel Crosley at work. The fact is that we at A.R.C. are inspired by old photos and often use them as a starting point for a larger article. Keep us in mind when you find treasures like those in recent issues -- photos of Cortlandt St., the Leese Co. Atwater Kent window display, Traeger, the Pedal Radio Man, etc.
Perhaps the real attention-grabber in Photo Review this month is the unusual Confucius horn speaker with the sound coming from the bottom. But perhaps the plastic toy gun with a built-in crystal set is a close rival. Relating shooting a pistol to listening to radio seems a stretch, but Monarch must have found a ready market.
Included in this issue are two auctions, contributed by our most faithful reporters -- Ray Chase and Larry Babcock. Though you may have assumed that Ray's report last month on the first Krantz auction contained all the significant items, check again. Tube lots attracted a lot of interest, both from those looking for usable tubes and from collectors looking for the unusual. Treasures were also found among the books, magazines, and ephemera. Since many items were sold in large lots, keep your eyes open at flea markets for Krantz items to show up. Frank will be with us for a long time.
In reporting on the Estes Auction, Larry Babcock points out that Richard knows radios and presents good items well. Larry's reports themselves are special because they give a real feeling for the event. By sheer coincidence, the highlight of this auction was an Atwater Kent Model 10 breadboard. Although not the rare Radiodyne, it still sold for $1,600.
Another coincidence is that our two book reviews treat important periods in radio history. Paul Bourbin reports favorably on Susan Douglas' Inventing American Broadcasting 1899-1922, which covers the pre-broadcasting years. Jerry Berg's On the Short Waves 1923-1945 covers early shortwave broadcasting, which took listening from a local to a worldwide perspective. Reviewer Bart Lee is so enthusiastic about this book that he will speak on it at the AWA Conference this fall.
Before we received the Bourbin review, Bob Breese had brought Susan Douglas' book to our attention. His comments reveal his enthusiasm for the book and its exploration of the "wireless fever" of the times.
The Internet. We are closer to our goal of implementing additions to our Web site. Our supplier continues to work out the "bugs," but we don't want to release the material until the site is fully functional. Our latest hope is that we may have the work complete during Labor Day week right after AWA.
Coming Radio Events. Fall is big radio event time -- 46 club events in September alone. Of course, the first is the big AWA Conference in Rochester, New York, September 1-4. HVRA's Mega Auction in Houston, Texas, follows closely on AWA's heels September 10-11. Note also the Stanton Auction in Michigan and the SARS fall swap meet in Georgia. Try to get to at least one event in your area, if not to the major ones.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER The Atwater Kent breadboard tuning condenser shown on our cover may seem common enough, except for a few details that distinguish it as a Radiodyne. Not only are the three exposed brass binding posts at the bottom of the dial significant, but also the dial itself, which is numbered in reverse. The rarity of this set may not be clear until you read this month's lead article.