Antique Radio Club of Illinois
Radiofest XVI

Elgin, Illinois August 6-9, 1997


Internet Edition -- Full article with auction listing available in the print edition of A.R.C.

The Antique Radio Club of Illinois (ARCI) held its Radiofest XVI from August 6 to 9, 1997, at the Holiday Inn Holidome and Convention Center in Elgin, Illinois. The hotel did much to make the event festive by having the desk clerks and restaurant personnel wear radio club T-shirts. And even Mother Nature smiled on all 530 attendees, as the weather was unusually fine throughout almost the entire event.

Although there was some uncertainty about available space in the overflow field adjacent to the hotel parking lot, the flea market had approximately the same number of vendors as last year. Even an increase in the price of space wasn't a deterrent, as your editor counted 185 vendors who had set up on Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, many of them were in full swing by evening on Tuesday, since the official opening had been moved back from Wednesday to Tuesday at 3:00 P.M.

The presentations this year were exceptionally good and well attended. Two of them featured well known authors whose works have been favorites among A.R.C. readers. Ron Ramirez, author of Philco Radio: 1928-1942 spoke on the history of Philco, while Harold Cones, co-author with John Bryant of The Zenith Trans-Oceanic: the Royalty of Radios, spoke on the history of Zenith. The first of the Bryant and Cones' trilogy on Zenith Zenith Radio, The Early Years: 1919-1935 is now available from the authors, A.R.C., and other A.R.C. advertisers.

Other excellent presentations were given by Ed Heuther on repairing old radios, and by Doug Houston on his collection featuring RCA radios and early television. Doug has had several articles published in A.R.C. In addition, the wonderful Muchow Museum, where over 3,000 radios are on display, was open on Thursday from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., free of charge. Shuttle buses to the museum were again a great convenience.

The other educational aspects of Radiofest were also exceptionally good this year. For example, Danny Gustafson organized the display room around a single theme RCA and showed a wide range of items from his own RCA collection.

Many interesting items showed up in the 10 categories of the old equipment contest. Folks welcomed the new policy of awarding cash prizes to contest winners $25 for first place winners and $100 to the best of show. In addition, all who entered the contest were awarded handsome certificates.

As always the auction was a lively event with sales totalling over $14,000. Proceeds were down from last year's nearly $18,000, although about the same number of lots 209 went on the block. This decline may have been due to the presentation of 25 de-accessioned lots from the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Unfortunately, these lots consisted only of parts and items in poor repair, which had a dampening effect on the opening of the proceedings. Estate items excited much more interest.

Among the surprises were a National SW3 receiver with coil sets and HB power supply in very good condition, which brought $875 about double the going price. A big RCA 66X8 Catalin went for $575, while a Sparton 557 blue mirror radio brought $1,300. Two early superhets a Penn Super and a Baldwin Superhet brought $600 and $675 respectively. And as has been the trend, 6 of 16 Zenith sets brought over $100 each.

Overall, the auction was run in an efficient and timely manner by auctioneer Harry Blesy and the club members.

On the lighter side, the Awards Banquet was greatly enjoyed by the 166 attendees. For entertainment, original radio programs were performed live by "Those Were the Days Radio Players West." Folks were again delighted by the informal appearances of the Bad Mood Swing Band, known in previous years as "The Split Level Ramblers" or "The Pink Toothbrush."

The International Collector Reception hosted by A.R.C. poolside at the Holiday Inn on Wednesday at 5:00 P.M. was a big success. Over 100 attended, and there was much good radio-talk among collectors from both sides of the "pond." In addition to Jonathan Hill, Phil Taylor, and John Hawes from England, U.S. collectors were able to chat with Jacques DuBois and Andre Chompret from France. The three books given as door prizes were a big hit.

Next year's show dates are August 5-8, so mark your calendars.

Enjoying the sun
Figure 1. Enjoying the sun in the Radiofest flea market
are Ed Bell, Ernie Hite and Bob Losier.

Hallicrafters and Stewart-Warner
Figure 2. This Hallicrafters Model SX-101, Mark 3, and its matching R-48 speaker
sold for $130 in the auction, while the Stewart-Warner 415 "dancing girls" speaker
brought $150.

947 RCS 721TS television
Figure 3. Among the auction items was a 1947 RCA 721TS television,
a large Eveready radio battery dealer display and a Sparton 617 tombstone.

The Antique Radio Club of Illinois (ARCI) holds bimonthly swap meets, as well as its annual August Radiofest. The club publishes "ARCI News" quarterly, and dues are $12. For more information, contact Joe Discipio, 109 East 30th St., La Grange Park, IL 60526. E-mail: jdiscip@aol.com

Photo credits: Daniel Schoo and John V. Terrey.

(John V. Terrey, c/o A.R.C., PO Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741)

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Last revised: October 26, 1997. Pages designed by Wayward Fluffy Publications