Where Can I Find Old Radios?
Like other used items, radios might pop up just about anywhere. Here are some places
Radio swap meets.
One of the best sources of old radios at reasonable prices.
Swap-meet prices are generally fair because sellers assume they're dealing
with savvy collectors. If you haven't hooked up with a local
club, check the
club list at
the Antique Radio Classified website. The ARC website also maintains
a radio events list,
which is updated monthly.
Your local newspaper ads are always worth watching. The most bountiful source of
old radios, however, is Antique Radio Classified
magazine, whose print edition publishes hundreds of buy/sell/trade/wanted ads every
month. You can also find ads in some radio club newsletters, such as the Old Timer's Bulletin of
the Antique Wireless Association.
Garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores.
If you're keen for bargains, these sources can yield some amazingly cheap goods.
For example, once I bought a perfect Zenith TransOceanic 3000-1
for $5 at a garage sale. A nice 3000-1 can easily sell in the
$100 range in a "retail" setting.
Of course, you never know what you'll find, and you'll have to be willing to slog through acres of junk, as well.
But if you enjoy this kind of hunting, sifting through the flotsam and
jetsam is all part of the fun. Since I launched this website in 1995,
many thrift stores have become "corporatized," leading to
higher prices overall and fewer true vintage items.
Antique stores often have a few old radios, for atmosphere if nothing else.
Don't expect any bargains. Dealers are in business to make
money, after all.
They typically price radios at or above (sometimes far above) the "book" values given in the radio collector guides. Most
antique stores sell radios as-is, with no form of guarantee or
right to a refund.
Antique radio dealers.
Radio merchants are also in business to make
money, which typically means charging "retail" prices. If radios are their sole
business, however, they should be willing to take returns if you're
not satisfied and they will typically offer guarantees on sets they have restored.
Prior to the advent of online auction websites, USENET newsgroups
provided the only way for people to buy and sell radios (and
other used items) via the Internet. Nowadays, that traffic has moved
almost entirely to auction websites. Groups such as
include ads, but they focus on communications radios and many messages are
simply announcements of eBay auctions that you could find faster by searching on eBay.
When I launched this website in 1995, there was no such thing
as eBay or
craigslist. Since then, online
auctions have exploded, and armchair shoppers around the world
can bid on a few thousand old radios on any given day.
In my experience, many people pay more for old radios at
auction websites than they would at other venues such as swap
meets. Nevertheless, online shopping is a boon to people who live in
an isolated area or who are looking for something very specific.
I'm a bit of a cheapskate and I think it's more fun to
find things the old-fashioned way. Of the hundreds of radios
and televisions that I've owned, only a handful came from an
online auction. All the others were purchased at swap meets
and the other venues listed above.