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