This is the first of a two-part series that addresses the why, how, and what of building your own radio collector's library. In this article, I will talk about technical and informational resources that I have found helpful. Part two will deal with advertising. magazines, and picture and price guide books.
Why build your own library? If you want to repair your own radios then technical resources are a necessity. If you simply want to understand how they work or how to differentiate between simple and complex chassis, you will need some kind of reference material with that kind of information. Technical resources can also provide accurate dating information. If you collect tubes or related paraphernalia, older catalogs and texts are priceless.
I will classify libraries into three categories: basic. advanced and expert level. For the basic library I recommend the following books.
Most of these books are available either from AES or from a local used book store. Many times these hooks and others like them can be found at estate and yard sales. In the past couple of years, I have found many copies of Beitman's at yard sales for a couple of bucks a piece. Through the years (30's -- 50's) Gihirardi has published numerous texts and technical volumes of varying complexity.
- A basic tube manual such as the RCA RC-17 or RC-19 as offered by AES, or the 8 1/2 x 11 size RCA "Receiving tubes and picture tubes" from 1957 which fits into a three-ring binder.
- An elementary electronics or tube theory text such as Ghirardi & Johnson's "Radio and Television Receiver and Circuitry and Operation" (1951).
- Schematics such as Beitman's "Most Often Needed Diagrams", various years.
- A simple how to do it book such as Carr's "Old Time Radios!".
For the advanced collector I recommend the following books in addition to the above;
As you can afford them, start picking up;
- An engineer or designer-level tube manual such as the Sylvania 11th edition from the late 50's. This volume contains detailed information about most American-made tubes and has inserts with updates. It also gives circuit information and design tips.
- All of Beitman's "Most Often Needed Diagrams" -- set runs from 1926 to the early 50's .
- Ghirardi's Radio Troubleshooter's guide, 3rd edition or later, or Ghirardi's "Modern Radio Servicing".
- Index to Rider's "Perpetual Troubleshooter Manual" or 5th edition or later of Mallory – Yaxley "Radio Service Encyclopedia" (Mallory's has a Rider's index in it)
For the expert level collector who may also be repairing radios for others, I recommend these books in addition to all of the above:
- Rider's Manuals (anywhere from $15-50 each, or $250-400 for a set).
- Individual manufacturer service manuals. such as the Zenith Vo1umes 1 & 2 or the RCA Red Books.
I usually pick up spare books whenever I find them cheap or free. I keep the best copies and sell or trade the lesser ones. If I could get only a few books, my "must buy" list would include any Mallory -- Yaxley, 5th edition or later, and some kind of tube manual.
- A complete set of Rider's Manuals and indices.
- As many manufacturer service manuals as you can find.
- Middleton's Receiving Tube Substitution Guide or Sam's Tube Substitution Handbook.
- Gihirardi's Radio Physics Course.
- Technical magazines such as Radio News and Short-wave Radio.
In the next installment, I will cover advertising, magazines, and picture and price guide books.