Looking for Clear Picture in TV Search

Times Staff Writer

Question: I have a 1947 Dumont 19-inch console television set. Have you heard of any TV-set collectors?--L.K.

Answer: If there are any collectors of vintage TV sets, or clubs, we’d like to hear from them.

Meanwhile, we dug up some dealer prices on a couple of old Dumont sets manufactured from 1938 to 1941. Their collectible prices were about $3,000. Your year wasn’t listed.

Stromberg-Carlson sets produced in that time frame may be almost twice as valuable, according to dealer catalogues. Also of collectible value are those sets manufactured by General Electric and RCA.


In the post-World War II years, collectible prices take a big plunge, with few TV sets selling in excess of $500.

In all cases, condition of the set is a major factor in figuring value.

One way to determine the age of your set is to look at the channel selector dial. A local dealer/collector said pre-1946 sets had a selection of up to five stations, most often channels 1-5. Then, in 1946, there was the addition of channels 7-13.

In 1949, channel 1 was eliminated, leaving post-1949 sets with VHF channels 2-13.


In 1953, the UHF band was added, thus giving collectors another benchmark for dating their set.

Then there are the relatively crude pioneering models, produced in the years following 1925, which were little more than electronic attachments to existing radio sets. Many of these sets surfaced in Eastern cities and have a collectible value, depending on condition, of a few thousand dollars or more.

Sets produced in the years just preceding World War II were usually packaged with a multiband radio and more often than not came in a wood cabinet.

Q: I have a number of letter openers going back several years. Which are most attractive to collectors?--N.C.

A: Many collectors look for letter openers that carried an advertising message. They are particularly interested in openers that predate World War II and, preferably, go back toward the turn of the century.

Roots of modern-day letter openers go back to the American Colonies. Many of that era were ornately designed. Some were made of valuable materials, such as silver.

By the second decade of this century, brass letter openers were popular, many stylized to reflect design trends of the times, such as the Art Deco period.

More recently manufactured letter openers, particularly of the plastic variety, usually have an assembly line look to them and have little collectible or decorative value.



On our recent column discussing the difficulties of locating English cigarette cards in this country, Arlene Gellerman, owner of Off the Wall Gallery of Huntington Beach, said her Orange County shop sells the collectible cards. She said they come 50 cards to a set in a natural wood frame and that the price tag is $230. Themes range from tennis players to Dickens characters to kings and queens of England.

The gallery is located at 2123 Main St., Suite 11, in the Seacliff Village shopping center; telephone (714) 536-6488.