Merrill W. Bancroft
James Millen Display
at the
2001 AWA Conference




Pictured above is that of Merrill W. Bancroft standing beside his excellent display of James Millen memorabilia at the 2001 Antique Wireless Association conference in Rochester, NY. It was a matter of only a few months after Millen's death that his estate was offered for auction. Much of Millen's property, including his original 1936 station had already been donated to the AWA before his death (see elsewhere on this website for details.) This display won "The Display Award " and finished first in the Vacuum Tube Transmitters and Receivers display category.

How did Merrill find all these Millen items? In his own words, "I live in Townsend, Ma.My most significant collecting experience and luckiest day was the day of the auction at Jim's estate at the end of Tarbox Lane, his private road in North Reading, Ma. Three factors contributed to this day for me. First there was a meet at the Rhode Island Wireless and Steam Museum that day and second, the temperature was a record 98 degrees. Third, John Nagle had an auto breakdown on the way up from Herndon, Va. and never made it. The end result was that there was nobody interested in the stuff but me. I also should mention that that Sunday for some reason, and the first time ever, I picked up a copy of the Boston Globe and saw the notice of Jims estate auction. I'm sure it was well known that Jim had a very complete collection of radio periodicals. Well the first lot that went up included a complete set of QST's in binders with perhaps 50 extra pre 1920 issues. I started off the bidding at $25 dollars and that is also where it ended! Suffice to say this trend continued through the entire magazine auction to the extent that I had seven pickup loads of bound material and other paper to take home. I hate to think what would have happened to this stuff, especially the personal items such as the ME degree if I hadn't gone because no one else was interested in any of it. I had two regrets. All of the QSL cards that Jim had around the upper walls of his ham shack (which were shown in the CQ article) were probably destroyed because I couldn't take the time to get them down. The other was the DFP receiver prototypes some of were offered to me but I had no room for. Remember that I had a huge pile of material to get home in an open pickup and it was clouding up and it did rain just after I unloaded the last load."

Merrill's story is not uncommon and would be a dream come true for many collectors. At the AWA conference Merrill did mention that someday all this material will be donated to the AWA museum so that it can live on for future generations of radio collectors and Millen enthusiasts. It is a shame that some items may have found the end of existance, including those rare DFP receiver prototypes. But perhaps even those were saved and will resurface again someday.

Returning to the display. The large framed item in the center is Millen's original Mechanical Engineering diploma from the Stevens Institute of Technology. Among the paperwork are original letters to and from Millen and Clarence D. Tuska relating to the patent on the famous National PW dial drive assembly, often refered to as the HRO dial. For those Millen collectors is his original resignation letter to the National Company and their return letter of acceptance. Both dated April 17, 1939.



Original letter from National's Board Chairman Warren B. Hopkins accepting Millen's resignation.

After his resignation James Millen went on to form the James Millen Manufacturing Company in Malden, MA. Jim's reasons for leaving National are addressed in other articles available on this website.

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