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THE NATION’S OLDEST AND LARGEST PHONOGRAPH SHOW ONCE AGAIN BRINGS INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION TO UNION, ILL. ON JUNE 8TH AND 9TH
With hundreds of antique phonographs, high quality music boxes, and vintage radios, thousands of rare records from the 1890’s to the 1950’s and more, the 38th Annual Phonograph and Music Box Show at Donley’s Wild West Town will once again bring international acclaim to the village of Union, Illinois on Saturday, June 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, June 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Wild West Town is located at 8512 South Union Road, Union, IL, 45 minutes NW of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Show organizer Larry Donley and his sons, Mike and Randy, are internationally recognized collectibles experts who bring decades of experience and knowledge to the field of appraising, buying and selling antiques. General admission will be $9 per person, good for both Saturday and Sunday. Preview admission is $40 per person during set up on Friday, June 7 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The annual Phonograph and Music Box Show began 38 years ago when Larry Donley invited anyone who may have an interest in old phonographs and music to experience the show. Beginning that year with just four vendors and a few dozen attendees, the show has now grown to the largest and oldest and attracts attendees from around the globe including from Canada, England, Holland, Germany, Taiwan, Italy and Japan. The show offers machines priced from around $250 for a hand cranked disc phonograph, to rare coin-operated music boxes that sell for more than $40,000. It is also the place to buy hard to find repair parts for machines from vendors who know how to fix them.
Larry Donley first began collecting phonographs in 1958 as an auto mechanic in Berwyn, often bartering auto repairs for the old machines often found in peoples attics. In 1963, Donley helped found the Early Talking Machine Club of America, a small group of 10 Chicago area collectors who would get together to show off and talk about their most prized possessions. When Donley’s Wild West Town was built in 1974 to showcase his growing antique collection, the first public show was held there, and grew until eventually a banquet hall was built on the grounds to host them.
“This show is like a family reunion for the dealers and collectors, and for people who are really into phonographs and music boxes, this is the best place to be” says Mike Donley. “These machines are indicative of the time period. When the phonograph was invented, people were living, for the most part, in isolated rural areas. They had no electricity, no running water, and no modern conveniences. For the first time, they could go out and buy a machine that would sing them a song, tell them a story or a joke, or hear a President’s speech. It’s incomprehensible what that must have meant to people. They are pieces of history that changed the world.”
The Phonograph and Music Box Show is open to the public on Saturday, June 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, June 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission to the show is $9 and is good for both days. A special preview admission of $40 per person is available for those wishing to mingle with the dealers during the show setup on Friday, June 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donley’s Wild West Town is located in McHenry County at the intersection of Route 20 & S. Union Road, 2 miles south of the Village of Union at 8512 S. Union Rd. For more information call 815.923.9000 or go to www.wildwesttown.com.