Antique fairs (all sorts)

  • ARDINGLY SHOWGROUND, Sussex. One of the largest in the south of England. Information from IACF, 01636-702326.
  • MALVERN SHOWGROUND, Worcs. Another large fair. Information from IACF, 01636-702326.
  • NEWARK SHOWGROUND, near Newark-on-Trent. Probably the largest event of its kind in the UK-no more need be said. Information from IACF, 01636-702326.
  • SWINDERBY, held at the former RAF camp, on the A46 road, between Lincoln and Newark-on-Trent. Regular three-day events, with 250-plus inside stalls under canvas marquees and 500-plus outside pitches. Details from Arthur Swallow, 01298-27493 or 0860-797200, fax 01298-37493.

For a calendar of these events and more see

Swapmeets and flea markets

The swapmeet is often the most fruitful source of treasures. Most of these are organised by societies and that means you'll have to be a member to find out about these meetings. But that's the best bit, the fellowship you get from being part of the crowd.


Radio/TV swapmeets are organised several times a year by the British Vintage Wireless Society (members only) and The Radiophile; telephone swapmeets are held by the Telecomms Heritage Group (see Clubs and Societies chapter for addresses). Best of all, for all of our interests, is the NATIONAL VINTAGE COMMUNICATIONS FAIR, held at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, The Fosse, Fosse Way, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV31 1XN, every spring. Now run by the BVWS, further details are to be found at  

For classic hi-fi and some vintage wireless, the best source is the AUDIOJUMBLE, Victoria Hall, London Road, Southborough, Kent. Quality vintage hi-fi. For dates contact John Howes, 11 Crendon Park, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells, Kent (01892-540022 evenings) or see advertisements in Hi-Fi World magazine.

Details of all other BVWS events can be found HERE.

Also worth considering are:

  • ANTIQUE SCIENTIFIC & MEDICAL INSTRUMENT FAIR, organsied by Peter Delahar (tel/fax 020-8866 8659) and held twice yearly in April and October at the Radisson Portman Hotel, London W1.
  • ASHTEAD AUDIOJUMBLE, Peace Memorial Hall, Woodfield lane, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 2BE; held every spring. Contact Henry on 07730134973.
  • BAKELITE FAIR, organised by the Bakelite Museum Society (020-8852 3492 and 01374-126670). Held in May at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, Sussex.
  • MEMORABILIA ROADSHOW AND FAIRS, Birmingham (NEC), Glasgow (City Halls), Manchester (at Bowler's, Trafford Park). Organised by Made in Heaven, 216 Kristiansand Way, Letchworth, SG6 1TU 01462-683965, 0860-355620.
  • NORTHERN SOUND & VISION FAIR 2004, the first Sound & Vision Fair promises to be the biggest event of its kind ever staged in the North of England. The two day event, which takes place at the Platinum Suite at St. James's Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th June, 2004, will feature a positive galaxy of celebrity guests from the worlds of film, TV and music. Doors open 10.30am, admission 4. Sunday family ticket 5.
    Sound & Vision, PO Box 1NW, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE99 1NW, Tel: (0191) 2617364, Fax: (0191) 2666073. Email: enquiries@northernsound&
    Web Site:
  • THE GRAND M25 JUMBLE, takes place every November at Therfield School, Dilston Rd, Leatherhead, Surrey, (M25 Junction 9). Contact Henry on 07730134973.

FRANCE: Paris.

The magnet here is the famous Vernaison flea market, close to the Porte de Clignancourt station on the Paris Metro. The market is lively on Saturdays and Sundays, pretty dead on other days; it is also the only flea market in Paris worth trawling for our kind of merchandise (radio/TV/telephones). You will also find old electrical goods there and books but not much hi-fi. Expect to pay quite high prices; there are few bargains here. Many of the stalls are in the older allées with their quaint wooden shanty-town huts, whilst opposite in a modern concrete hall is a collection of dealers with equally fine old radios and telephones for sale.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings (the guide books say all day but the stallholders haven't read them) you will find another, more down-to-earth market in the streets avenue Georges Lafenestre and avenue Marc-Sangnier (nearest Metro station Porte de Vanves). This is a people's market and prices are substantially lower, but with equally tasty merchandise. Telephones, televisions, radios and cine films and projectors can all be found here. There is also plenty of paperwork to be had, including old catalogues and illustrated magazines, but you must be prepared to search. The French are keen collectors of ephemera, so old leaflets and directories are quite widely sold and easy to find.

Brocante fairs (glorified junk markets) in the street or in halls are another rich source to tap. See the inexpensive Pariscope events magazine (at all news kiosks) to find out where these are being held.

GERMANY.The vintage radio hobby is well organised in Germany, so if you are visiting the country it might be worth seeing if any of these swapmeets coincide with your trip.

  • Altenau (Harz). Swapmeet and radio market. Information from C . Timmermann,00 49 5328-8248.
  • Altensteig. Collectors meeting. Information from U. Lambertz, 00 49 7453-8632.
  • Bad Laasphe. Radio market. Information from H. Necker, 00 49 2752-9798.
  • Bielefeld/Altenhausen. Swapmeet and radio market. Information from K.H. Lange, 00 49 521-331061.
  • Datteln.Historic radio and TV market. Information from R. Berkenhoff, 00 49 2363-65329 or W. Meier, 00 49 2832-2544.
  • Ellerau. North German swapmeet. Information from A. Rieck 00 49 4106-72476 eveings, K. Helt 00 49 4106-67408.
  • Erfurt. Thüringer radio fleamarket, September, in the ElektroMuseum. Information from Stephan Hloucal, Hohe Str. 24, D-99094 Erfurt-Möbisburg (00 49 361-68448).
  • Eschborn. Radio swapmeet. Information from Dr R. Walz, 00 49 6195-2506.
  • Friedrichshafen. This Hamfest takes place during the last weekend of June. There is always a lot of non-Ham stuff in the flea market too: vintage radios + test equipment and other "junk". Web site:
  • Fürth. Radio flea market in September at the radio museum, Schlosshof 23. Information from G. Walther, 00 49 911-756 8110, fax 00 49 911-752577.
  • Gronau/Leine. Swapmeet. Information from L.-D. Schmidt, 00 49 30-3815881 or 00 49 5182-2894.
  • Inning/Ammersee. South German swapmeet and radio market. Information from M. Roggisch, 00 49 89-870688 or C. Dingfeider, 00 49 8143-390.
  • Lamstedt. Swapmeet. Information from S. Grüttner 00 49 4777-8156, W. Tenschert 00 49 4773-7368.
  • Nürnberg, flotronica computer and radio flea market. Information H. Kammler, 00 49 911-644863.>
  • Ulm. GFGF meeting and radio market. Information from G. Bogner, 00 49 731-719149 or W. Hauf, 00 49 7346-2800.

NETHERLANDS. An international 'market for old technology' is held at regular intervals at Nijkerk. Information from M.P. Ritmeester, 00 31 5910-13721.

RUSSIA: Moscow. The largest market is held on Sunday mornings at Ismailova Park. There is a Metro station nearby and the market stretches from there along a broad pathway for about a mile to a stadium and then around the corner some! All kinds of good are sold there, and on my visit in 1992 old telephones were quite plentiful (even an pre-1914 set), although I saw no radio or TV items. There is also a daily market in the forecourt of the Shabolovskaya Metro station where you can find radio valves, integrated circuits and so on. Of course, this may have changed. The Izmailovski Park hotel complex nearby offers a reasonably-priced (for Moscow) place to stay - you can book through Intourist.

SWITZERLAND.The national vintage radio and sound society, CRGS, holds an international flea market in May at Egerkingen. Information from A.F. Egli, Kreuzbuchstr. 97, CH-6006 Luzern. Retro-Technika is an annual swapmeet/market for all technical hobbies (including radio/TV, telephones and hi-fi) held in September at the Wankdorf exhibition centre in Bern. Details from RTB, Postfach, CH-2537 Vuaffelin, Switzerland (tel 00 41 32-581810, fax 00 41 32-581910).

USA.Regional swapmeets for old radios, TVs and telephones are plentiful and are listed in the relevant magazines: Old Timer's Bulletin (published by the AWA) and Antique Radio Classified for radio and TV, and the ATCA and TCI society newsletters for telephones (address details in the chapters on Clubs and Societies and Buyer's Guide). The really big show is the Rochester event held every September by the AWA; this has a huge flea market (quite apart from all the other displays, visits and presentations). Also worth a visit is the Dayton Hamvention, another national event held early May in Dayton, Ohio. This is predominantly an amateur radio show but there is a ten-acre open-air flea market as well, which always has some vintage radio gear.

OTHER COUNTRIES. The best suggestion is to get in touch with the relevant national society, if there is one. See the chapter on Clubs and Societies.If anyone would like to offer some other suggestions, I'll be pleased to use them! Please e-mail me, Steve Ostler, at

Garage sales, charity shops, thrift stores

As Hank van Cleef says, if you're keen for bargains, these sources can yield some amazingly cheap goods. But you never know what you'll find, and you'll have to be willing to slog through acres of junk, as well. If you enjoy this kind of hunting, sifting through the junk is all part of the fun. If you're looking for a specific item, however, you're better off trying more specific sources.


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