Radio Days

BW Online | July 5, 2004 |
By Gerry Khermouch

Vintage wireless sets are gaining popularity among collectors, and there are plenty of bargains if you know where to look.

“For some collectors, the first primitive radios are the lure — old breadboards covered with vacuum tubes, capacitors, and wires assembled in the early decades of the 20th century. Others see value in brilliant, exotically colored plastic models of almost fluorescent intensity, cast in the 1930s into miniature architectural forms.

…So what’s hot these days? Auctioneer Richard Estes sees three sweet spots with appeal to different audiences. Wireless sets from early in the 20th century, sold under brands such as DeForest, Marconi, and Western Electric, draw an older, often techie crowd, and command top prices routinely exceeding $30,000. Coming on strong in recent years have been amateur “ham” radios, which appeal to those who enjoy poring over circuit diagrams.”

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Elgin tuned in for annual Radiofest

“Radio collectors from around the nation are tuning in to Elgin this week for the 23rd annual Radiofest.
…Despite the hefty price tags on some of the rare models, ‘you can still get into the hobby relatively cheap,’ Bilski said. ‘You can spend $75 on an antique radio, and spend another $75 to have it restored. So for $150, you have a piece of furniture and a piece of history.’
Bilski said this year Zenith products are in demand, especially models made in the 1930s.
‘Primarily because Zenith was founded in Chicago,’ he said, adding that high-fidelity equipment from the ’50s and ’60s are popular, too.”

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