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 Values of 1920s radios
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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 10:46:32 PM on 17 June 2021.
Robert69's avatar
 Location: Western Victoria, VIC
 Member since 14 November 2009
 Member #: 579
 Postcount: 110

Hi Brad,

Well done on getting the site back up and running. A real labour of love. I've been going back and having a look at the content and read the 'Collectability of Vintage Radios' section and had a comment to make. You say that working radios from the 1920's are easily worth $1000 and not to be surprised if they are $2000. I think those prices reflect a time maybe in the 1980s and 1990s when things were very different to now. Back then we were desperately trying to find them and often paying through the nose. We felt very fortunate to actually find one for sale. But these days 1920s radios are fairly available and not particularly sought after (which is a shame). Back then US and English sets were easier to find than Australian sets, particularly in my Victorian location. But that changed with the internet.

Each year I come across a handful of decent (usually not working but relatively easy to repair) 1920s radios, and I'd estimate that for the past 10 years I have purchased about 5 20s sets a year, although sometimes many more - especially when a long time collector of such sets dies or sells up. What I would say, and based on my own experience, is that 1920s radios are very affordable - an average price for the radios I have purchased is $200 each (and I keep records). Most have come from HRSA auctions. Sometime double this price for a very uncommon or unusual radio (e.g. superhet). What this means is that radios I purchased over the past few years have effectively devalued the radios I purchased in the 1980s and 1990s - but that's life! The more positive way I look at this situation is that the radios are more available and affordable to own now. Anyway, just my thoughts and I'd be interested what others have to say as well.

Robert


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Robert

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 11:29:56 PM on 17 June 2021.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 6135

Going by Sydney HRSA auctions in recent years, such radios -- unless one of the 'princesses' -- go for peanuts these days, if they sell at all.

Sometimes guys can't even give a console away and have to lug it back home.

(I have no particular interest in 1920s radios myself, nor in wooden cabinets.)

Radios are a bit like veteran and vintage cars. There was a time when anything with a running board was popular. Now there's virtually no interest in that era. Young guys today of driving age consider 'old' to be what their grandfather had. Maybe twas always thus.

Re Sydney HRSA auctions, the Chairman recently bemoaned the low prices being fetched by radios and the 'junk' being put up for sale, and made a rather plaintive plea for people to be prepared to pay more so that sellers will bring better quality radios to the auctions.

IMO, that isn't going to happen because there are no new-to-the-hobby buyers attending these auctions and those who do attend are either trying to sell or not buying anymore because they have a house full of radios already and next stop is the retirement village.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 2:40:05 AM on 18 June 2021.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6516

Many of them are very cheap now. Those articles were written a long time ago now, particulary back before the coloured sets of the 30s and 40s became the must haves. I own radios from all the major parts of the valve era and a few of the coffin sets rank amongst my favourites.

From a historical point of view, these radios would always be on the top shelf. They were the first radios that were made following the early sealed set period and are a bit easier to obtain now than 15 years ago because fewer people are vying for them.

I've never collected radios for their investment potential so I've never really worried about what money can be got for a particular model. I've sold some at a profit but also sold some for purchase value or even at a slight loss. It has all worked out in the wash.

There's a double-edged sword here. Many have bought radios based on their investment potential and refuse to pass them on in fire sales. At the same time, the younger crowd won't enter the vintage radio fraternity if the prices are too high whilst their parents are bellyaching at them to save a deposit for their own home - a task that is almost impossible now for many reasons.

An off-topic reminder: Radio broadcasting in Australia is now in its 98th year. Not a lot has yet been said about the 100th anniversary of the big day when 2FC first went to air.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 4 · Written at 6:52:10 PM on 20 June 2021.
Relayautomatic's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 24 April 2012
 Member #: 1136
 Postcount: 125

Yes I think that GTC is correct in saying that the lack of new younger collectors is reducing the demand for vintage radios and therefore values/prices. The same effect is evident at phone collector auctions where even rare phones do not sell or go for a fraction of what they would have fetched ten to twenty years ago. Also as the average age of the collectors goes up they either 'have one of those' or are looking at reducing their collection. As one of my 65+ year old contemporaries asked recently, "Have you decided which items you think you might be able to take to the Nursing Home?" Sadly the answer might be, just photos.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 5 · Written at 8:15:46 PM on 20 June 2021.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6516

When the time comes, and it's a few years away yet, I will probably do what many collectors do and pass on most of what I have and just keep a handful of the radios I like looking at the most. I have around 300 radios in various states of repair. Most of them are complete, many are restored to working order and a few are bitsers or are incomplete.

The photo I posted here shows about half of my displayable collection. In my bedroom there are no less than 77 radios in the photo plus two other smaller displays. Believe it or not, there is actually still room for my wardrobe, bed and bedside cabinets!

I am not sure that the choice of how many to keep will be the difficult decision. That will be what to keep. So many radios qualify but at the end of the day, if I was to become infirm and require nursing home care, only so many would be allowed to come with me and that would be only if I was lucky enough to be in a facility that gave each resident their own room, rather than being in a dormitory.

There has been two extremes with pricing over the years. For a while things went nuts and people were paying large amounts of money for radios that they thought would hold their value, or even increase in value. I once saw a jade green AWA Radiolette (I think an R31) for for around $21,000 on Ebay. Yes, it is a reasonably rare beast and yes it was in mint condition but was it really worth $21,000? I guess in a way, it was. Something is worth what the market will pay for it and if a radio goes to $21,000 on Ebay, it can only get there if two or more people are bidding competitively. I just pray that the buyer is enjoying his purchase because he's not likely to sell that radio for that price, or anything like it, at this point in time. If the same radio went to market today, it'd be lucky to get $10,000 and $6,000 to $8,000 might be a more expected figure, since the R31 in any of the available colours isn't especially a rare radio. Coloured versions of the later post-war 500 series are just as scarce.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 6 · Written at 10:35:43 PM on 20 June 2021.
BurntOutElectronics's Gravatar
 Location: Alexandra, VIC
 Member since 2 October 2019
 Member #: 2392
 Postcount: 210

I certainly do feel like the odd one out at times as there just isn't anyone I know my age into old tech.
Yet I can't complain about the lower prices of valve radios as it means I can afford to play with them and learn how they operate.
But is lower radio prices worth the lack of interest? No, not by a long shot.
I'd be thrilled for the day to know someone my age (18) or there abouts, with similar interests.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 7 · Written at 11:22:52 PM on 20 June 2021.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6516

I was about 17 or 18 when I started. It all feels so long ago now.

We had some younger lads here about ten years ago who collected televisions. They both disappeared about the same time - probably due to entering their final years at school. There'd be little time for collecting whilst the HSC is looming.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 8 · Written at 8:07:40 AM on 21 June 2021.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 6135

QUOTE: I'd be thrilled for the day to know someone my age (18) or there abouts, with similar interests.


If you haven't done so already, join the HRSA and get along to meetings and events. It's about the only game in town when it comes to this stuff and if there are any younger people in your vicinity then they are likely to go the same route. The quarterly magazine Radio Waves is worth more than the membership fee alone.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 9 · Written at 9:42:19 AM on 21 June 2021.
BurntOutElectronics's Gravatar
 Location: Alexandra, VIC
 Member since 2 October 2019
 Member #: 2392
 Postcount: 210

If you haven't done so already, join the HRSA and get along to meetings and events

I have thought about it before but never quite did it. I'll definitely have to join.

We had some younger lads here about ten years ago who collected televisions. They both disappeared about the same time

Yeah I wonder if they continued with it or if they moved onto newer electronics, or something different all together.
This stuff sparks an interest in me, probably just the same as it did my dad when he started. He has kept up with it his whole life and has been running his own radio telecommunications business for close to forty years.
I've got a number of hobbies. Electronics is probably the largest one, but I love learning new things so I've gotten into analogue film photography and process my own b&w, colour negative and colour slide film at home in my darkroom. It's great! I also experiment with different processes and even processed some super 8 film I shot. it was black and white reversal so you develop it, bleach it with sulfuric acid and potassium dichromate (Quite hazardous) and then finally pull the whole tumble of film out into the light and develop again! then you have your very own black and white projector ready film! all that for just over three minutes of footage with no sound.

but thats the other stuff I do. I tell you what there is nothing like the satisfaction of making a valve radio tune into a station for the first time in possibly decades! I can almost guarantee all of you that I will end up with hundreds of radios on the shelf haha.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 10 · Written at 4:06:26 PM on 21 June 2021.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6516

Believe it or not, many schools still teach kids how to take photographs with film and develop the pictures. I was thinking at the time that the gear to do that was fast fitting into the no longer made status.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
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