Richard Balsbaugh Collection of Vintage Radios at Bonhams doubles its pre-auction estimate

The trend of coveting retro-style continued at Bonhams New York today when their December 11 sale of The Richard Balsbaugh Collection of Vintage Radios proved another landmark success in the collecting history of this popular field. The auction totaled $555,437, doubling its pre-sale estimate, and was 100% sold by lot and by value.

This important private collection consisted of 133 radios designed in America during the 1930s and 1940s and collected by Richard Balsbaugh during the 1980s and 1990s. The radios were conservatively estimated and enthusiastic collectors from around the world, who were bidding in the room, on the phone and online, vied aggressively for the radios pushing, the prices well above their pre-sale estimates.

“Richard Balsbaugh took a lot of time, thought and care forming this collection, so it was gratifying to see this remarkable group of radios so enthusiastically received by the international collecting community,” said Jon King, vice president of Bonhams New York and head of the sale. “The market today is healthy and the buying atmosphere strong and the collection garnered excitement with bidders flying in a few days before the sale to select their lots.”

Six Art Deco Air King Skyscraper 52 radio, designed in 1933 by Harold Van Doren, were among the top lots of the sale. The stars of this section were the exceedingly rare lavender examples, which sold for $10,625 and $31,250; and a mint green 1933 Air King Skyscraper 52 radio, which sold for $37,500.

Another star of the sale was a Detrola 281 Split Grille from 1939 that sold for $37,500 and the Cherry red Tom Thumb (1939) that sold for $21,250.

For the full auction results and to buy the collectible The Richard Balsbaugh Collection of Vintage Radios catalog, available for $35, please visit