Why a $34,000 radio, of course!

Bruce with Sparton [r]


In early 2012 a woman called a MARC member and basically said “I am clearing out my mother’s home and in the barn is a radio my father bought at an auction years ago.  Mom didn’t like it so when dad died it went out in the barn.  The wind blew thru the barn over the years and its rusted now but I see some radios like it on the internet that have sold for big money.  Can someone come here and tell me what I have ?”.

Long time MARC member Bruce Tanner was called and he drove up to St. John’s Michigan and looked in the barn.  He told her:  “Madam, you have just found one of the “Holy Grails” of radio collecting!  This is a blue-tinted mirror “Art Deco” iconic radio from 1937 made by Sparton Radio of Jackson, Michigan.  Its called the “Nocturne” and very few are known to survive.  Examples of this radio have sold for over $50,000 in good condition!”   She asked what to do with it.  The club suggested putting it in the Extravaganza “Main Auction”.  She agreed.  Collectors came from all over the USA to see it and possibly bid.  How high (or how low!) would it go?  Although it was weathered, all the main parts were there and the irreplaceable blue glass was not broken.  It could be re-silvered easily, the chrome could be restored and the one missing metal knob could be turned on a lathe.  The internal parts were intact and easily restoreable too.    Many collectors were hoping to buy it and the room buzzed with chatter.   There were many other radios to be auctioned,  most sold for under $100 as is typical.  Finally it came on the auction block…. and after heavy bidding it closed at $34,000.   The buyer is a very experienced radio collector who will have it fully restored .

“High style” radios like this rarely show up.  They were expensive back in the day so few were sold.  One could picture a radio such as this in a Chicago penthouse apartment or the lounge of a posh “Art Deco” hotel in Miami.   But a BARN in St. Johns, Michigan?   Just goes to show, “you NEVER KNOW WHERE TREASURE MAY LIE” !!!