Famed Mark Woolley Collection of Vintage Catalin Radios Shatters Auction Records at Bonhams New York

. January 10, 2008

On Wednesday, December 19th, vintage radio enthusiasts from as far away as Australia and the UK tuned in for Bonhams’ highly anticipated sale of the famed Mark Woolley Collection of Catalin radios in New York City, examples dating from the 1930s and ‘40s.

Excited collectors went the extra mile to participate in the sale – literally. Several bidders flew in from Los Angeles to attend in person. Still other telephone bidders participating from Australia braved a 15-hour time difference to vie for the collection’s rare models. The enormous interest in the sale was proven by its 100% sell-through rate, each of the more than 200 lots was sold, resulting in a sale total of $944,400, three times the pre-sale auction estimate. As Jon King, Director of Bonhams New York, stated after the sale, “We believe that many auction records for Catalin radios were broken at Bonhams today.”

As expected, a spectacular grouping of Air Kings — designed in 1933 by Harold Van Doren — stole the show. In particular, a blue Air King 52 went for $51,000, well above its top estimate of $9,000. Three other Air Kings from the grouping also placed in the sale’s top ten lots, realizing $48,000, $45,000 and $33,600.

radioerez.jpgAnother lot, drawing a spectacular price of $51,000, was a 1939 Symphony Split Grille radio featuring an onyx case with emerald green knobs and the rare split grill, coveted by collectors. Additionally, a cherry red 1939 Thom Thumb sold for $48,000 — an astounding $42,000 over its top estimate of $6,000.

Also attracting highly competitive bidding was a transparent teal 1937 Kadette K 25 Clockette radio. Kadette was the only manufacturer to house its radios in transparent Catalin, examples considered highly desirable, the lot selling for an impressive $28,800 – far above its $7,000 top estimate.

Happily, an Australian bidder’s efforts were rewarded as they became the proud owner of a mint green 1936 AWA Fisk Radiolette, sold for a final price of $8,000; far above its expected top estimate of $1,200. These models were particularly exciting to Australian bidders as Radiolettes were created as interpretations of the American architectural style radios, but were manufactured in Australia entirely of Australian parts.

The zeal of collectors, many of whom were well acquainted from previous sales and conventions, was palpable. As King noted, this particular group of bidders stood out for their meticulous attention to detail and vigilance in examining the radios and pre-sale condition reports. Reflecting on the auction and its astounding results, King commented, “We at Bonhams have thoroughly enjoyed preparing the radio collection for sale at auction and are ecstatic with the results. The overwhelming response to the sale from radio enthusiasts located in all regions of the United States, England, Canada and Australia is a testament to the collecting sense, character, and passion of a great collector, Mark Woolley. Working closely with his daughter, Laura Woolley, the consultant for the auction, was also a wonderful experience.”

Category: Auction News

Comments are closed.