Antique Radio

Collecting and studying antique radios is an unusual hobby for the technically inclined. Antique radios, though they have appreciated in value in the last twenty years, are still generally reasonably priced. Their market value is moderate for several reasons. First, it takes a certain amount of knowledge of electronics to appreciate old radios, and this limits their appeal. Second, they are really not as efficient and reliable as modern, solid-state radios, so they do not have the full utility of antique furniture, paintings, and some old books. Third, the old-timers who collected for nostalgia value are continually dying off, and their collections reach the market to find fewer knowledgable buyers. I would never suggest old radios as an investment collectible! Most old radios are actually much cheaper today (in real terms) than they were when originally sold. This is all to the advantage of the individual who collects through interest and appreciation.

The study of antique radios gives us a fine view of the history and economics of technological innovation. There is also an appreciation of artistic design: some old radios are ornate, or elegantly simple, -- and some are pure kitsch. The later are sometimes in the greatest demand!

The largest nationwide organization concerned with antique radio is the Antique Wireless Association, Inc., Box E, Breesport, New York 14816. They publish The Old Timer's Bulletin (which began in 1960), and hold an annual four-day conference. AWA also operates a museum in Bloomfield, New York: the museum has an amateur radio station (W2AN) and a web site.

Another source of information is the monthly Antique Radio Classified, P.O. Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741. This is an octavo-size journal with topical articles, auction reports, lists of upcoming meetings and events, and a large section of unclassified advertisements. You may visit their web site.

There is a New Jersey Antique Radio Club which meets the second Friday of the month at the Grace Lutheran Church, West Main Street and Park Avenue, Freehold, New Jersey, at 7:30 pm. For information call (908) 542-2848. No web site.

Read a review of newly issued recordings by Vaugh DeLeath.

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