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Vintage Audio (record players, hi-fi etc) Amplifiers, speakers, gramophones and other audio equipment.

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Old 19th Mar 2008, 10:36 am   #1
Darren-UK
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Default Value of, disposal of and obtaining of radiograms.

These forums, and no doubt others, frequently have new members joining up for the specific purpose of selling a Radiogramophone or having it valued.

In a nutshell Almost all radiograms are of little value and difficult to sell but if you require further info and guidance then please read on. Section 1 gives a broad view of radiogram types and any possible values. Scroll down to Section 2 for general info on the problems with radiogram disposal.

Section 1

1. Prewar types. Many of these have survived and are usually of well known brands. These were beautiful examples of workmanship and would have been sold new only to the very wealthy with large homes. These machines were almost always very big and very heavy, hence the clue 'large homes' in the sentence above and which reflects the problems with these machines today. Other possible drawbacks to these machines nowadays are that the decks played 78rpm records only, and the radio tuners were AM only. Value of these isn't easy; an example in fair-to-good order may fetch anything from £50 up to £200 providing the right buyers attention can be gained.

2. Postwar 1940's/1950's types. By and large not many of these were quality items, due not least to the austerity of the period. Common were radiograms in flimsy plywood cabinets bearing a depressing dark brown finish and containing only average quality amplifiers, mono-only output, AM only tuners and, often, 'nothing out of the ordinary' record decks. Trying to sell a machine such as this from that period? don't bother if you want more than, say, £0 - £10 for it and you're prepared to deliver or have it collected.

The period concerned also saw some superb offerings from, for example, RGD and Decca which were almost throwovers from prewar days but with a brighter finish and updated electronics. They generally had the same style of enormous, heavy, cabinet without controls beneath a top lid. The latter was a style which all-but vanished during the 1960's, only to reappear on the stereograms of the later 1960's and into the 1970's. Getting back to the monsters from the likes of RGD and Decca, these too suffer the problems of size and weight; factors which override any other considerations.

3. 1960's types, and Stereograms. Out of the austerity years and into the 'swinging sixties' the trends of the time tempted those who could afford it to purchase the latest offerings. Cabinets tend to be rather plainer, albeit brighter than earlier generations, and from the late 1950's onwards radio tuners included VHF/FM, 4-speed record decks were almost the norm, and stereophonic reproduction became 'the' feature of the decade. By this time what became known as the 'Long, Low Look' was fashionable. All very trendy at the time but today somewhat derided. As well as the ever-present size and weight problems, therein lies the problem with 1960's radiograms; they are just too 1960's to harmonise themselves within most peoples homes today. Value is thus seriously affected; maybe £20, give or take, IF you can find somebody willing to collect.

The 'Long Low Look' also introduced another problem. As well as being more squat, controls were usually on the front with the record deck often tucked away inside a cupboard and accessed from the front. So unless your armchair happened to be conveniently placed beside the radiogram, the design involved a lot of bending and stooping; something which may have been accepted at the time but is nowadays seen as something of a nuisance.

"Stereogram" is a relatively modern term usually (the term is also used, perhaps somewhat confusingly, to refer to stereophonic radiograms) referring to stereophonic record players in smaller versions of radiogram-type cabinets and thus are non portable. Usually transistorised and very typical of their era in appearance, HMV examples remain common today and, despite being somewhat smaller than their predecessors, are difficult to sell or even give away as complete units and that's notwithstanding their obvious advantage over mono units.

4. Tabletop radiograms (of any period). The name for these is self-explanatory. These were nothing more than what amounted to an adaption of a portable record-player with an added radio tuner. Quite common on the secondhand market, makes and quality are wide and varied. Obviously much more convenient to post to a buyer, or transport, these machines still don't command high prices. This is possibly because they still require a solid item of furniture to sit upon if they're to be used and, despite being relatively compact, can still be incongruous among modern furnishings. Value depends upon make and quality but such machines seldom fetch more than £20, give or take.

Section 2 - General Summary

Key factors concerning value and disposal of radiograms are set out below, but first let's take a look at a few issues. So you have a radiogram you wish to sell; ask yourself why you wish to dispose of it. Is it too big? Does it not fit in with your decor? Do you fear analogue radio will soon be a thing of the past? Do you no longer play vinyl records and have long since gone over to the new-fangled CD? These are highly likely to be the same reasons why other people consider these machines undesirable.

1. Physical size. Most radiograms are simply too big and lumbering to be comfortable in the average modern home. Size and weight is a major problem when selling or buying due to transportation problems and the cost thereof. The forum often has people posting to offer a radiogram, usually stating something like "It's a beautiful piece of furniture but we simply don't have the space for it". Well, with respect to any potential offerer reading this, neither do millions of other people.

2. Style. Unless you live in a home with 'period' furnishings (and the space, of course), radiograms are simply incongruous among what may generally be considered 'modern' furnishings.

3. Radio reception. Portable or tabletop radios use either an internal or an external aerial, one or the other, but sometimes with the former and with provision for the latter. This isn't a problem because such can be positioned to suit. Radiograms are a different matter; many will have an internal aerial (in some cases with limited directional adjustment) but the need for good radio reception can be a major problem if your chosen spot in the lounge for the radiogram isn't suitable in respect of this.

Another reception problem which is becoming more prolific is interference from modern electronic kit; CFL (aka "Low Energy") lamps, computer equipment, digital devices and their power supplies etc. This is less of a problem with small and/or portable radios but with radiograms, the moving around of which is impractical, interference can be a major problem which collectors/enthusiasts are well aware of.

4. Future disposal. For anyone who does bite the bullet and acquire a radiogram, there is the knock-on problem of future disposal should this ever become necessary.

5. Obtaining a radiogram. Not everybody avoids radiograms, of course. They are a few collectors around and people who want one to compliment their period decor. The early 21st century has seen vinyl make a comeback and this in turn has seen a somewhat startling rise in prices of portable record players so, if you can't afford such prices and have the space, a radiogram might be an alternative.

If the above is attractive and space, transportation etc is not a problem, there are other points you should consider. Unless a radiogram for sale is guaranteed, figuratively, to be overhauled and in good working order, you may find yourself having to pay out for electrical work (rewiring, replacement components, new pickup cartridge and so on) before the machine is safe and reliable. This could end up costing you as much, if not more, than what you paid for the machine and for its transportation. What you initially thought was a bargain would thus turn out to be anything but.

6. eBay. If you are one of those wishing to obtain a radiogram, eBay and other such websites are excellent for gauging prices at any given time. Remember to look at the prices radiograms actually sell for. Ignore Buy It Now (BIN) prices and ignore high starting prices for auction sales. Just because an auction has a start price of, say, £50 or a BIN of, say, £150 does not mean the item will sell at or above those prices. Good condition prewar 'grams might do, the majority of the remainder will not. Pay attention, too, to the vendor's location and transport arrangements. Radiograms are invariably and for obvious reasons 'Collect Only'. You don't want to bid on and win a lumbering radiogram only to then realise you've got to pay Eddie Stobart £xxx to transport the beast hundreds of miles.

The same pretty much applies if you wish to sell a radiogram. Check sites like eBay to see what sort of price, if any, you're likely to get. Consider your own location too; do you live in a remote wilderness miles from anywhere? If so, can you reasonably expect a buyer to collect or arrange collection bearing in mind the expense over and above the purchase price, if any?


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This guide to radiograms does not, no doubt, say what the majority of people wishing to sell an example want to hear. Nonetheless it is hoped the information proves both useful and interesting - whether you are disposing of or obtaining a radiogram. Good luck

gram radiogram radiogramme radio-gramophone legs feet long-low weight bulk compartment stereogram stereo-gram SRG RG RGD grundig marconi marconiphone HMV his masters voice decca portadyne dynaport portagram value valuation sell selling furniture
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Old 19th Apr 2015, 2:33 pm   #2
paulsherwin
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Default Re: Value of, disposal of and obtaining of radiograms.

Just a quick update: the above post was correct when it was written, but the increase in interest in vinyl records over the last few years has brought a corresponding increase in interest in radiograms, particularly previously completely valueless models from the late 50s and 60s. They are still comparatively unloved by collectors, but are seen as bargains by some buyers in view of the astronomical prices now being demanded for nondescript 60s portable record players. Good late 60s transistor stereograms are now selling for £50 or more - a decade ago you'd have had to pay somebody to take them away.
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