Monday, March 21, 2011

Nobody Is Buying – Antique Radio’s That Is

I posted one of my very rare Zenith 12S267 radio’s (I have 2 of them) on Craigslist and eBay last week. 7 days without a bid or an email. Wait, I got one email, from a guy who wrote he would give me no more than $200.00 for it. The radio knobs are worth more than that! This radio 4 years ago would bring over $3,000.00, now it doesn’t even get a bid. I read peoples blogs where they are selling stuff off and I realize for us to sell things off we’ll need to lose money, probably a lot of money or not sell them. 73 years old, works perfectly, gets in stations from all over the globe and is rare enough to warrant the price per the price guides and people in the know who sell them. In an antique store this would really bring a high price.

I know the economy is bad and I have seen a few of these hit eBay and not get a single bid. 4 or 5 years ago there would be a bidding war going on. Our house is worth less than we paid, our antiques are worth less than we paid. Damn taxes are due next month (you don’t want to know how much) and selling some things would really reduce the stress.


This is the second 12S267 I own, I’m the only one on the planet that I know of that has two of these in excellent condition. When I invested in them, I was a genius considering where the prices were going, every year they went up! But now, we own them and they might as well be paper weights. Don’t get me wrong, if it were up to me, I’d keep them forever but the economy/taxes/life dictates what happens to them, or in this case isn’t happening to them. I am going to relist both of them with a reserve and if they don’t sell, I have no clue what to do with them because we need the money but I’m not going to give this stuff away! Crying face  I have a whole collection of these types of radios… double drat none of them will sell unless we let them go cheap.



Erik's RV Blog said...

It's real easy to whine and complain knowing others have it much worse. I see what's going on in Japan and I feel I should just shut the hell up but it's how I feel so I vent it.

I consider myself very lucky with the cards I have been delt but sometimes you just have to wonder... and this is one of those times.

If I ever expected anything other than unfair I stopped expecting that decades ago. ;)

Teri said...

I sold several old radios at my garage sale last year, they didn't look to be in as good shape as yours. Maybe try an auction house, Leonard Auction in Naperville on the web. I read a book about cleaning out "stuff" and they said that if you already received the value of enjoying the item, then not to worry about what it may or may not be worth.

Erik's RV Blog said...


I talked to them and a few others, the market is in the tank right now. Unfortunately the value of these things can't be measured by enjoyment alone, I paid a lot of cold hard cash for them and they were meant to be long term investments not just for me but who I was going to hand them down to.

The least valuable radio I have is worth north of $500.00 and even that one is seeing much less on the auction sites right now.

I know people want them, but they are afraid to buy right now or are in a similar position as my wife and I. I'll call them again and see if they do our right purchases and see what kind of deal they might want to make, if any.

Thanks Teri and I hope the RV search is going well!

Big Matt said...

The swap meets around here for radio parts would scare you badly. I had to pass up a 1938 Phillco cabinet radio that only needed the cabinet refinished that was fully functional (And had the old police bands) for $50.

I have a 1960 Lowery Holiday Organ (All Vacuum tube based) that I've been slowly working on, it needs a couple new of new tubes, but they're not as hard to come by as they once were thanks to the guitar industry.

Also missed a chance to buy an an entire stock of tubes from Norvac electronics that had been found in a garage from an a recently deceased TV repairman for $25.

The price of the radios were always a balloon, sadly. Still haven't found a thomas radio yet to replace the guts of the replica I have that doesn't work.

If you can't sell it, you can always load it up and bring it with you when you head west and I'll add it to my WWII collection. I don't collect for the monetary value of things, I collect because I like to preserve history.

Erik's RV Blog said...


My big interest in antique radios stems from my youth. I want to preserve every single radio I see from the golden age of radio era which was the 1930's. If I could afford it I would own a museum just for this decade and it would be stocked to the rafters.

Unfortunately it becomes a money deal when they cost into the thousands, not only are you preserving you are investing, the two have no choice but to mingle.

My 2nd 12S267 was bad attempt by somebody who should never touch wood or electronics. The guy bastardized it badly and it took a lot of resources to bring it back to facotry condition.

When you run into dire financial issues the radios become things that can help solve a financial problem. They are the very last items I want to sell but it is what it is, if I can get the right money for a few of them or even all of them right now they will go into homes that also cherish the historical part since nobody buys a $3,000 anything and treats it like junk.

Sue and Doug said...

sometimes you have to 'know when to fold 'em and know when to hold 'em!
hang in there Erik..our situation is not much better than yours!

Erik's RV Blog said...

Sue and Doug,

Well said, still playing my hand!

Big Matt said...

Got yer broadcasting station yet erik? Something I built myself a long time ago was a low power AM broadcast terminal that a fairly limited range and used it to play back the hours and hours of Old Time Radio broadcasts I have and listen to them via the old Thomas clone before it bit the dust.

Merikay said...

I have a feeling we will be having a bigger storage place than we had originally planed.

Not for my stuff. I don't have anything of value, but for all of my husbands stuff. It isn't worth much either, but he would rather keep it than give it away.

Erik's RV Blog said...

Matt, that gives me an idea for a blog post! Check back.

Merikay, my wife and I have discussed putting things in storage but that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I feel like I'm paying for the stuff twice! Hopefully by the time we go fulltime we won't have to worry about it.

Jill Haffley said...

Do you still have a 12S267 for sale?

Erik's RV Blog said...


Yes, I have one other for sale. Let me know if you're interested. :)

Mark Forer said...

12S267: What do you want for it?

Erik's RV Blog said...

I have one left, looking for $3,500.00

Mark Forer said...

Hi, Erik:

Please send me detailed pix and a thorough analysis of it's condition.
I've owned many !2/15 tube shutter dials over the years.


Erik's RV Blog said...

Mark, the chassis and cabinet was restored by Dave Christensen at the Antique Radio Company in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Dave has since gone out of business unfortunately. The radio is not perfect, it was restored 9 years ago and against my wishes he included a 3.5mm input, which is nice but not something I wanted.

The radio shows very very well, the curves have developed slight cracking in the clear. I can try to take some detailed pictures but having sold one of my 12S267's I'm not desperate to sell this one so the price is solid and worth every penny.

Erik's RV Blog said...


Do you have an email address I can send to, sorry for the very late response, I have been crazy busy.

Tony said...

To not lose money, dont spend a fortune. I dont care what it is, paying more than 200 for any radio is insane. Surely you have to look to the decorator or art community if you want the big bucks. Paying big bucks for collectibles is not smart. The values cycle, and the new crop of collectors arent going to find the high prices appealing.