Ediswan 1923B Crystal Set

 This little radio was found by a builder friend when clearing rubbish. It's in original condition, by which I mean its tatty looking with rust on its steel bits. This is rather fortunate because it looks its age because it hasn't been rubbed down and french polished which I think would have done away with its charm.
The cat's whisker has fallen off but the original crystal is still there under a screw-on ebonite cover.
Most radios up to 1926 were crystal sets and could be home constructed or bought like this one for a two or three pounds. Decent reception via headphones was obtainable up to about 20 miles and in the New Forest area, where this radio was discovered, the local station was Bournemouth, with the callsign 6BM, which opened for broadcasting on 17th October 1923 on 326 metres. To put this date into context, the BBC, originally named the British Broadcasting Company, started up in November of the previous year, initially only from London and Birmingham.
Note the "BBC" label on the set. In those days listeners could only legally listen in after buying a license for 10 shillings and then only by using a set with the BBC label. Part of the price of these sets would go to the BBC and part to Marconi who held the broadcasting patents. The latter however was based on the number of valves used in the set so crystal sets avoided the penalty. To protect British industry from cheap foreign imports, manufacturers were initially restricted to using British components. To circumvent lost revenue from DIY'ers, a constructors' licence was necessary to build your own wireless and this was priced at 15 shillings of which the BBC got the lion's share. You could however use the dreaded foreign imports and save a bit of money. Big aerials were necessary for crystal sets but these were limited in size by even more regulations to a maximum of 100 feet in length. Many listeners found they could connect their set to their telephone wires and effectively increase the aerial length to miles with the benefit of hearing all sorts of stuff. Such was the selectivity of a crystal set however that all the stations would be received together and one had to be adept at tuning one's ears to a particular broadcast.

I'll let the pictures below speak for themselves...

 

 

 

 Ediswan, the makers of the 1923B, employed youngsters paid threepence (a little over one "new" penny) an hour to help make some of the components such as coils. Just think- if one of these lads managed to "pick up" all the bits he needed to make his own crystal set he would still have to put in 60 hours at Ediswan's before he'd accumulated enough cash to buy his BBC license to legally wire the bits together!
 

 

 

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