Collecting vintage radios can be fun, informative and, sometimes, profitable. But you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions before you start. Why do you want to collect early valve radios? Do you want working radios you can use and enjoy every day? Or, do you want shelves lined with radios which are purely for show? Maybe you want both? Which era are you interested in? The 1930s radios are completely different to radios manufactured during the 1960s.
Many people decide on having a radio in the lounge or dining room as a centre piece or talking point. You’ll have to decide whether to collect Bakelite or wood cabinet radios – or both. How much room to you have to spare for your radio collection? Bear in mind that some vintage radios are huge and can almost be classed pieces of furniture. Is it just the long and medium wave bands you’re interested in, or do you want to tune around the shortwave bands and listen to the world? You will need an aerial for the shortwave bands. Some radios also need an external aerial for long and medium wave, which is worth bearing in mind.
Whatever you want and whatever your reasons, you’ll have to start somewhere. If you don’t already own a radio, you could take a look at auction sites. The Bush DAC90A is an extremely popular radio. They are also readily available, reasonably priced and work well. But, do be careful when buying from an auction. It’s not easy to judge from a photograph and, although the radio may be described as working, it might need a lot doing to it to make it work properly and, above all, make it safe.
Do you want to restore a radio yourself, or do you want to buy one that’s fully restored and ready to plug in and enjoy? Some people just want to collect a few old radios which look nice and are in working order. Others want to become connoisseurs and build up a fine collection of fully restored vintage radios.
You’ll probably find that, once you’ve got your first radio, you’ll want several more. Be warned, your collection will grow and grow – and it never ends. It might be worth testing the water with your other half before you begin collecting!