EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for October 2006
(Copyright 1996-2006 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
Two decades make a difference in any life, including that of a magazine. In October 1986, I was a few years younger (well, okay, 20), recognizable by my full beard, ready to become a publisher and take on what Gary Schneider had started only two years before -- Antique Radio Classified. As we all know, the world has changed dramatically in just the last five years, but in this issue, I take a moment to celebrate what started at Radiofest in 1986 -- my 20 years as editor of A.R.C.
As I look back over those 20 years, I realize how much about the hobby has changed, while the mission of the magazine has remained the same -- "to stimulate the growth of the hobby... and to provide a monthly forum for the interchange of ideas and information." We continue to pursue those goals, but at the same time the scope of the hobby has broadened with each decade. Details of that history are described in the anniversary issues of June 1994 and 2004.
Reflecting on decades of change, I chose the same cover for this issue as used on my first A.R.C. issue in October 1986. The 1929 RASCO Radio Parts catalog cover seemed appropriate then because collectors of the time were fixed on radios of the 1920s and 1930s. In fact, nothing in the editorial section of the 1986 issue suggests collecting interests beyond the 1930s.
In 1986, for example, I myself was still using an AR speaker, the subject of our lead article, in my hi-fi system. An item only twenty years old was not considered "antique enough" to be of interest to vintage collectors of the 1980s. Andrew Hayden's excellent article on the AR loudspeaker, as well as his earlier KLH articles, would not have been published here in 1986. They were simply not yet collectible items.
And who 20 years ago would think of car radios as "vintage"? Yet, Walter Hall makes a strong case in 2006 for a radio from a 1950 Ford. The history of 56 years of entertainment in your car can't be dismissed as insignificant in the grand scheme of radio history.
Of course, two subjects in this issue would fit nicely into the 1986 issue -- Phil Bliss's 1923-24 SECO Crystal set and Don Watson's attractive Montgomery Ward Airline table model. Don's article gives some interesting insights into the marketing techniques of the pre-World War II days.
On the other hand, Neil Robar's handsome 1933 Majestic 344 lowboy might have been out of favor in the 1980s. But, even then we felt the need to prepare for changing tastes, and so we did just that. In July 1989, Dave Crocker's cover and article entitled "Here Come the Consoles" forecasts a resurgence of interest in the sets "we all thought took up too much room."
And, indeed, consoles have been in and out of favor over the decades. Today higher end consoles are definitely back in vogue, as indicated by the Estes Auctions price of $2,100 for a Scott Philharmonic, reported in this issue by Ray Chase.
In fact, Ray's Estes Auctions reports and photos are always indicators of what's in and what's out. He also reminds us of what has had staying power over the decades, and Art Deco items are an example. Mirrored radios continue to bring high prices, and in this auction, a Sparton Nocturne brought a top dollar of $55,000.
In general, we can never discount the appeal of early items. Though in this particular auction, rare wireless and battery sets did not make a significant showing, they regularly sell in the $1,000-and-up category.
Still, many things do change. As I look over this issue, I'm struck by the 41 club listings today compared to five in October 1986. Of course, we were just beginning then to list events, and may not have had full coverage. But, the proliferation of regional and local events since the 1980s is indisputable. We always reported on most large events, and now include additional events, such as the two in this issue.
Thanks to reporters like Jim Moneghan and John Hagman, who have traveled far from home, we can report on events like the Carolinas Chapter/AWA Conference in North Carolina and the DVHRC Meet in Pennsylvania. What Jim and John tell us is that the quality of these events doesn't lie in the attendance numbers or sales as much as in the camaraderie.
So, what hasn't changed about the essence of this hobby is the importance of people-to-people contact. That's certainly the first moral of my 20-year story. The second is that what was not vintage in 1986 has become vintage in 2006. As the meaning of "vintage" has changed, A.R.C has changed with it. We continue to grow with the times and serve the needs of the radio collecting community.
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. Cool fall days invite participation in more radio events. This month you have your pick of a total of 41 -- 22 meetings, 15 meets, and 4 auctions. Be sure to try to attend as many as possible -- the camaraderie is what it's all about.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
If you were a subscriber in 1986, this cover may be familiar to you because it also appeared on the October 1986 issue of A.R.C. The 1929 catalog was a publication of the Radio Specialty Co. of Park Place, New York City, only a few blocks from the heart of Radio Row. RASCO claimed to have published the first radio catalog in the U. S., to offer a "100% square deal," and to produce "only perfect apparatus." So sure were they of their quality merchandise that they didn't even have a Complaint Department. And speaking of change over the decades, they also had a minimum order requirement -- 50 cents.