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Old 3rd May 2020, 10:42 pm   #1
kestrelmusic
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Default What to do with my collection?

I have quite a substantial collection of vintage radio sets, test gear, valves and components, gramophones and miscellaneous vintage electrical equipment. The lockdown has focused my mind upon my collection as I have brought down several interesting sets from the loft to restore.

However, this raises the question in my mind about what to do with them when they have been restored. It doesn't feel right to me to sell them (I did sell a handful of 1950s woodies a few years ago and found out too late that the purchaser wanted them to strip and put in modern electronics). However, I am not as young as I was and am now on my own - my partner died last year following a stroke.

What I would really like to do would be to start a small museum - there's nothing in my area (North Wales/Shropshire). Whether this would be practical I have no idea. Clearly I'd need premises and at least enough income to cover things like council tax, lighting and heating. Probably there would now be so many rules and regulations as to make it almost impossible to do.

So what happens to 100-odd sets, several thousand valves, a large chest of drawers full of vintage components and so forth if - or when - the grim reaper calls for me? I have no family and I suspect that my executors will just call in a house clearance firm in which case the sets will probably end up in charity shops and the rest of it in a skip.

If anyone has helpful thoughts I'd be grateful to hear them.
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Old 3rd May 2020, 10:55 pm   #2
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

I wonder if there are any general museums who might be interested in opening a tv/radio corner or display. Certainly worth asking. As an example, the home front ww2 museum in llandudno has a radio section. The Pipes in the Peaks cinema organ museum in the Peak District also has a large radio display.
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Old 3rd May 2020, 10:56 pm   #3
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

A museum would need a source of regular income which would mean setting up a charitable trust and endowing it with an awful lot of money to invest. This is the province of only the very rich. Alternatively you would need a bunch of followers to keep everything together and continually raise funds as needed, like the Gerry Wells collection.

If you have an inventory of everything, with photos so the non-technical can identify items, along with dated valuations, then the money involved might deflect them from the skip.... especially if you add up the total!

I'm not so well organised.

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Old 3rd May 2020, 11:13 pm   #4
mark_in_manc
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

Quote:
Originally Posted by kestrelmusic View Post

So what happens to 100-odd sets, several thousand valves, a large chest of drawers full of vintage components and so forth if - or when - the grim reaper calls for me? I have no family and I suspect that my executors will just call in a house clearance firm in which case the sets will probably end up in charity shops and the rest of it in a skip.

If anyone has helpful thoughts I'd be grateful to hear them.
I wonder if you support a charity, nationally or in your area. You might discuss with them (well in advance - I'm not wishing you dead!) a legacy in which they get to take your collection to auction. Then you get to enjoy it from hereon in without worrying about it, and they take the hassle of arranging sale at auction in order to be able to do something good with the proceeds, when (as you note!) the time comes. This kind of thing might work best in a situation where you have a personal connection somewhere.
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Old 3rd May 2020, 11:55 pm   #5
Chris55000
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

Hi!

All the equipment that Forum Members own, myself included, whether it is be radio, audio, tape, TV or T & M, was designed and built by manufacturers who took pride in it and wanted to support it as long as economically possible, and to this end provided quality documents to help maintain it!

None of us, least of all me, want to witness these items of gear smashed to pieces on landfill sites or put on bonfires or furnaces to satisfy the gods of. "recycling", and what makes matters worse, the OP makes a good point about age and health, and in my case, eyesight as well (I have been diagnosed post–cataract opacification), my worry is should the eye clinic botch it with their laser I could be blinded, then I'd be another member in the same situation as the OP, with my hobby brought to an end by being unable to see it!

I have a sister and b.i.l., but like other Members' families/loved ones I suspect, regard what we collect as "a load of junk taking up space!"

I also suspect that virtually all members like MotorBikeLes, WMEBill, Woodchips, and many, many others as well as myself, have collected many pieces of beautifully manufactured T & M at prices now that make them collectable, but in our young days, would have cost many months (or even years!) salary in our 20s and 30s, and all this deserves a good home as well!

I wonder if the Mods could give an insight into this? I don't think there is a single member of this Forum who would disagree with my thoughts on the quality of old equipment!

The sister EEV Blog Forum has a good many members who are significantly younger than us I believe, I wonder if they're having similar thoughts?

If there are any recently joined younger Members, then I for one, would gladly donate a piece of my T & M, either working or as a repair project, to them if it could instil the pleasure and enjoyment that it gives to us!

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Old 4th May 2020, 12:01 am   #6
Lucien Nunes
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

Launching a museum as a stand-alone organisation can be costly but is not necessrily too complicated in itself. A much greater challenge is to launch a museum that will survive, prosper and serve its purpose when you are not around to defend it or prop it up. It must fulfil some role that other people value as much as you do, that is likely to remain of value for long enough into the future to justify everyone's effort. Ask yourself why visitor x, who hasn't been born yet and will never know a world without driverless cars and 5G phones, would want to take the family there in anticipation of something interesting and enlightening.

I have been working on that bit for a decade, in an effort to ensure that the charitable organisation that we are just in the process of launching stands a chance of developing in perpetuity rather than just barely holding its own and fizzling out when we do. Making valve radios relevant to the unborn generation is a challenge, but I think it's possible if we open our minds to a wider variety of interpretations than we ourselves need in order to derive pleasure from them.
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Old 4th May 2020, 7:33 am   #7
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

I have given my kids a list of local auction house that will sell the radios etc ,when that time comes ,but I may have too thin out before then (as wish to move at retirement),so may pass on here or sell locally. its hard to know as I guess most places that want a collect to show may have more than they need already. as for parts I guess the valves as there by the large box full but al the parts/odds we pick up/have is another problem
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Old 4th May 2020, 10:27 am   #8
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

Thank you all for these thoughtful replies. As a stop-gap, at least, I will give my solicitor (who will be my executor) an inventory of the items with approximate values and instructions not to ditch any of it! Perhaps I should also give her a link to this Forum so that in the event of my falling off my twig she could be in contact with knowledgeable people. MODS - would this be in order?

Quite a lot of my collection is of Pye sets (including Pam and Invicta) - perhaps I should add a codicil to my will leaving them to the Pye museum in Cambridge. I'll contact them and see if they'd be interested.
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Old 4th May 2020, 10:40 am   #9
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

I've resigned myself to the fact that any gear I don't give away or sell during my lifetime is going to end up in a skip.
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Old 4th May 2020, 11:00 am   #10
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

I'm sure that this problem is close to all (most) of our hearts. For many years I have had an interest in television cameras outside broadcast and broadcasting in general.

It is the other end of the TV/Radio collection & restoration world. I often thought I would love a museum to display and teach the world about the history of broadcasting. I knew all the problems outlined by others and had watched the sterling efforts of a good friend to set up such a museum in Chester.

My first solution was to have a virtual museum www.tvcameramuseum.org This has been running for some 20 years and is now quite extensive. In parallel with this I have worried on and off about the collection. It too is extensive, for instance I had a full size OB van sat in the drive outside the house.

A chance encounter with another OB enthusiast led to the move to set up a more formal survival strategy.

Nick and I decided the way was to set up a charitable trust which we have done, We have 5 trustees and a group of enthusiastic volunteers. The OB vans, www.MCR21.org.uk , ownership is now with the trust and restoration is underway.

When it is ready it will go on public display at the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum , where we had our official Launch last year. It is planned that our trust, The BTTT, Broadcast Television Technology Trust, will continue on into the future preserving the BBC OB van MCR21.

Looking a little further ahead it would be good to encompass a wider range of Broadcasting kit, cameras etc, library, even the whole range, cameras & microphones to the domestic TV and radios into some form of consolidated celebration of broadcasting exhibit.

This wish would not be easy to achieve, but I look at other countries around the world with a certain degree of envy. Have a look at Portugal this is the web presence of the state broadcasters museum. https://museu.rtp.pt/en/tv-radio-collection


The key to all this is funding..............Ho Hum

Finally One of our volunteers has created a youtube channel.... which might amuse.
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Old 4th May 2020, 1:23 pm   #11
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

On The Air in Hawarden, Deeside isn't too far from Wrexham.
Steve Harris there used to have a museum in Chester.
I wonder if a chat with him might be worthwhile.
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Old 4th May 2020, 3:49 pm   #12
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

How very interesting Brian, and Iím sure your post will prove useful to Kestrelmusic, who I wish all the best to in finding a solution.
I have often wondered why the Science Museum, with all its wonderful displays, could not have such a set up.
Down in my neck of the woods there is the Museum of Internal Fire which has a section on telephones and radio, which I think is being expanded, also Aberystwyth Museum has a small display of Radios etc, well worth a visit, when we are back to normal.
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Old 4th May 2020, 3:58 pm   #13
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

This question bothers most of us. My solution a few years ago was to identify a few good friends, each of whom would take on part of the task of disposal when I go. The main aim was actually to make sure the burden on my wife was minimised. The "collection" is split into the Pamphonic "museum", vintage radio, valve audio, testgear, amateur radio and "the rest". Each nominated friend gets to keep a few items from within their specialist area and arrange for disposal of the rest as they see fit. The Pamphonic "museum" goes to a descendant of Paul Taylor, co-founder of Pamphonic.
This brutal approach rather shocked my wife but she understands the thinking behind it.
This does not rule out donations to museums, but shares the work around.
Jeremy (aged 67!).
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Old 4th May 2020, 4:04 pm   #14
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

KM, you could donate certain specialist items such as Marine & Military equipment to dedicated existing museums.
To the north of you is the Fort Perch Rock Museum near Birkenhead, which houses some marine comms equipment, I believe.
To the east of you is "Hack Green" near Middlewhich in Cheshire, I understand they hold a collection of vintage amateur radio equipment, and some military comms equipment from the cold war years.
Then there is the BVWS Swapmeets at Golborne near Warrington. Hopefully Mark Ryding will get things going once the lockdown is over. So you could flog some excess stuff there.
VMARS have a codicil form for adding to your will, allowing them to collect & flog stuff for funds.

Regards, David
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Old 4th May 2020, 4:08 pm   #15
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

The problem is that in this country, museums are little valued and seriously underfunded, and property (premises, including reserve storage) is very expensive. And that's likely to be even more of a problem as a result of the ongoing economic effects of the current pandemic.
There are even suggestions that museums should start selling off items from their collections to finance their storage and running costs. These ideas have been floated regularly over the years by some influential think tanks, but are now being taken more seriously.

I remember spending some months working in Paris in the 1990's and being surprised (and impressed) at the large number of small, very specialised, museums dotted about the city - many of which I visited. I think it's largely down to different cultures. Maybe some of our foreign-based readers can suggest useful solutions to the question.

edited to add:

I was under the impression that Fort Perch Rock threw out the maritime radio exhibition some years ago. A bit like what happened to the radio museum at Bletchley Park.

Jeremy's idea is a good one.
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Old 4th May 2020, 5:52 pm   #16
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

I love small quirky musea (just looked it up, perfectly acceptable plural of museum), I (in the past, soon to be done again) like to visit at least one a weekend. Some of the big ones have gone all "style over content" (science museum Kensington for example). A lot have a changing (every few months or so) display in at least one room, any excuse to have a ride on the motorcycle, a coffee and a (proper!) slice of cake.


Your radio collection, a small part at least, would be a good addition to any local museum.
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Old 4th May 2020, 6:27 pm   #17
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

Quote:
Originally Posted by kestrelmusic View Post
Thank you all for these thoughtful replies. As a stop-gap, at least, I will give my solicitor (who will be my executor) an inventory of the items with approximate values and instructions not to ditch any of it! Perhaps I should also give her a link to this Forum so that in the event of my falling off my twig she could be in contact with knowledgeable people. MODS - would this be in order?
Some auction houses will clear out your house, junk the rubbish and auction off the best. Such auction houses normally have auctioneers specialising in tech items and they will/should know what is good and can be sold.

So all your solicitor has to do is contact your chosen auction house and they will do the rest.

I am in the same situation as you and the above is what I am about to do.

My collection is wireless, thermometers, microscopes, books, sewing machines etc etc !!
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Old 4th May 2020, 6:47 pm   #18
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

It's an interesting topic. I wonder what will happen come my time as let's be realistic there aren't that many people in my generation who are collecting and restoring these items. So who will inherit my collection? Only time will tell...

I have worked in museums and heritage for a good few years now but sadly I can think of few organisations that would take on a collection of radios. There aren't many specialist museums out there focussing on vintage electronics/radios beyond ones already mentioned in this thread and making them sustainable is very hard.

Lots of small 'hobby' museums often have a collection of radios and will usually take on items of historic interest. I am talking here about the farmer who has filled his barn with all sorts of curious from ploughs to Pye radios with the odd car thrown in. They are run out of passion and interest with minimal overheads so finance is less of a worry. When these places close, usually on the death of the owner, sadly the collections then often get broken up. There are quite a few car museums/collections that have gone this way in the past few years. These places are a museum in name but are unlikely to be accredited in any way- that is to say they don't carry out environmental monitoring or preventative conservation on artefacts etc so the reality is all the items in there are slowly degrading. My grandad has amassed a vast quantity of old electrical fittings over the years so recently he has been fixing them to boards and has now given them to one such local museum.

My favourite type of museum, the local rural life museums, usually have a radio or two but these tend to be set dressing or relevant to a local manufacturer. Such rural life museums often already have vast collections with no space to display them (an issue in all museums!). I have seen far too many times the sad look on peoples' faces when they bring a box of treasures in to a museum only to be told they don't want it as it doesn't fit in with the acquisition policy of that particular museum or there is just no space.

Personally I tend to be a bit sad when I see a radio in a museum. They are rarely working. If they are then they have usually been fitted with modern internals. To me a radio should be a working item.

One exception I know of to this is the Black Country Living Museum where I believe our very own Phil G4SPZ volunteers. They have a period radio shop/workshop which is one of the best radio displays I have ever seen in a museum (outside of Dulwich!) because it really felt alive. Annoyingly when I visited it was locked so I had to peer through the windows but it still left a great impression on me.

I know the BVWS runs an auction service and I believe a lot of the sets that appear in BVWS auctions come from the estates of deceased collectors. It's very sad to see a collection broken up but at least the sets end up with people who will appreciate them and hopefully use them as well.

Edit: As above- local auction houses will also often hold special sales when a collector passes away. One of the auction houses I attend has done a couple of special 'radio sales' over the past few years.
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Old 5th May 2020, 1:11 pm   #19
Lucien Nunes
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Default Re: What to do with my collection

One thing to bear in mind about disposal routes that place items on the open market, is that some types of item realise the highest price when dismantled. This affects part of my own collection, which if sold at auction, would be bought exclusively by people intending to break the items up, export the valuable parts and scrap the remainder. Therefore, if I want the items to survive they need to be protected e.g. by being accessioned items within a museum with a proper disposals policy.

A few decades hence, the same might be true of vintage radios and TVs generally, as there might be commercial pressure to gut them indiscriminately and fit modern innards or steampunk them. I don't think we can reliably predict the trends, such as interior design or retro media fads, that might have an impact on the economics of survival.
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Old 5th May 2020, 2:04 pm   #20
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My suggestion is don't bother and don't lose any sleep about 'after'.

I had collected piles of lots of different things, military, test equipment, books, valves, lots of things. I needed to start thinning it down many years ago. Ten years ago ebay was good, now I wouldn't touch it. The problem comes with the pack and post, it is very hard, takes up lots of time, effort and money, and then get 25% complaints. Sorting those out, after ebay has given the buyer their money back and you get a different item to the one you sold really does make you angry. Also 75% of the people who 'yes, really really want that, will come next week to collect' never do. This makes me angry because you have dug the item out, tested it, photographed it and then it sits there, taking up room. Never an apology. I have got some 40int taper tooling I am waiting for payment on from January.

I have, over the last few years used small auction houses to sell on military watches, 100+ year old books and sets of encyclopaedias etc, military items such as bomb sight computers, very early electronic calculators and similar. Other than the watch, got £1700, the rest would have raised more money at the scrappy. The books ended up on a pallet on the footpath, 4' high, the chaps in the bin lorry congratulated me on the largest pile of paper they have yet cleared.

I still have lots of old valves and transistors, but they need to be tested, Avo Mk4, and sold individually with your identifying markings on them.

Don't give them to a museum because in a few years they will all be skipped or ebayed. I have picked up some good stuff from these sales. I even ended up with a set of hand written note books from the Navy, even with letters inside saying keep, they were sold. I did let them have them back though.

What I have discovered is that no one does anything now. If you have a nice working radio, or whatever, then you will sell it for £50. The fact that you said it is old and will fail isn't heard, when it does die you will be expected to repair it under guarantee, if not then in the wheely bin and find a new one. It staggers me how many people seem to buy a new phone every 2 years, I want my Nokia 3310 back, please.

There is no monetary value in old technology. Even an Anita Mk8 is £700 is you are lucky, I had most the boards out of one, not even raised £150, same as a Friden 130. And if there is no money associated with it then no one is interested.

End result, do exactly what you want. If you want money then strip them down and sell the gold, now $1700 toz. If no cash value then just enjoy them, no one else will.

It really is doom and gloom.
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