We are delighted to introduce Joe Haupt, one of PopGrotto’s most avid collectors. Joe’s collections consist of various items ranging from transistor radios and vacuum tube radios to tobacciana items and cigarette lighters, to name but a few.
Q: When and why did you start collecting?
A: My father was an avid collector and I picked up the collecting bug from him early in life. His focus was on stamp collecting and that became my main collecting interest for 25-plus years. While I still collect Canadian and United States postal stamps, my collecting interests have broadened greatly, especially in recent years.
Q: What do you collect and what’s your most prized or surprising possession?
A: As reflected by my collections posted on PopGrotto, I have a wide range of collecting interests. My favorite things to collect include transistor radios, vacuum tube radios, mechanical and automatic wrist watches, tobacciana items and cigarette lighters. My most prized possession is an extremely rare Regency TR-1G transistor radio with a clear plastic case. Many collectors consider this to be the “holy grail” of transistor radio collecting. It was made for demonstration and promotional purposes in the mid-1950s. I have received numerous offers for it, but I will likely donate the radio to a local electronics museum at some point in the future.
Q: What is the decisive factor when you purchase an item?
A: I cannot reduce my buying decision to one decisive factor. For me, it’s the rarity, price and condition of the item. I don’t buy any items with the intent to resell them but only to retain them in my collections.
Q: Do your collections follow a concept or a specific theme?
A: Many of my collections fall under the theme of “Twentieth Century Technology” – transistor radios, vacuum tube radios, watches and the like. I’m fascinated with technology especially innovations that had a short commercial life such as LED (Light Emitting Diode) watches which were largely a product of the 1970s. Another example is the miniature reel-to-reel tape recorder which had a limited commercial life and was supplanted by cassette tape recorders which in turn were replaced by more modern recording devices.
Q: How do you take care of and store your collections?
A: I have numerous display cases and cabinets throughout my house to protect and display the most prized items in my collections. I also have a large basement to store other items; however, I carefully monitor this area for temperature and humidity. In addition, all stored materials are raised above the floor to protect them from potential water damage. There are two rooms in the house entirely devoted to the display of my collections including one used solely for the display of vintage radios.
Q: Do you ever sell off portions of your collections? If so, why?
A: As the old saying goes, true collectors only sell in case of one of the three “Ds” – death, debt or divorce, all of which I have been able to avoid so far. I would add a fourth “D” which is downsizing. While I have not sold off portions of my collections, I may be forced to do so in the future due to downsizing. I will likely sell off duplicate and other items which I am less attached to through e-Bay or other online sites such as Etsy.
Q: Products are so mass produced these days, is there anything we can be collecting now that could end up being the antiques of the future?
A: Many collectors have learned to beware of collecting fads such as Beanie Babies and specially limited and manufactured collectibles; however, I believe there are things that can be collected today that will be the antiques of the future. Consider what is really hot in popular culture today, and there is a good chance that related items will be the collectibles 25 to 30 years from now. Concert tour tickets and t-shirts, items related to popular television shows like The Simpsons, South Park, and SpongeBob SquarePants, and video games are all good candidates as future collectibles.
Q: It seems like everyone knows someone who knows someone who found an underpriced treasure at a thrift store or yard sale. Have you ever stumbled upon a valuable object like that and is it still possible to find them now that everyone seems to be keeping an eye out for them?
A: It’s still possible to find an underpriced treasure, but this doesn’t happen as often as it used to with e-Bay and other online sites now being available to sellers. I recently purchased a vintage transistor radio at an antique store for $10 that was worth several hundred dollars. Since the dealer had listed several cheap transistor radios on e-Bay and was unsuccessful in selling them, he was under the assumption that the radio he sold me fell into the same category of cheap radios. Overall, I find that I still get my best buys at yard sales and flea markets.
Q: What is your holy grail?
A: My “holy grail” is the Sony TR-55 transistor radio, Sony’s first transistor radio and the first to be produced in Japan. It was introduced in 1955. It would be a very nice addition to my collection of Regency TR-1 and other transistor radios.
Q: How do you like PopGrotto?
A: I like PopGrotto very much as it is a great way to display my collections to a wide audience. It is easy to upload photographs to the site and to sort and organize my collections. It’s a great resource for collectors.
You can find Joe’s collections at the following link: https://www.popgrotto.com/JoeHaupt