The instruction card is
quite interesting. First one must ask why the aerial emerges
from the front of the house rather than the more discrete rear?
Presumably possession of a wireless aerial in those distant days
was considered a status symbol?
Although the aerial would be visible
the receiver would not, and it's worth pointing out that this
humble crystal set was considerably cheaper than those sets currently
available at the time employing valves, which could cost as much
as a years wages of an ordinary worker. Not that anyone would
ever spend a years wages on a receiver but you get the drift.
Having shelled out more than two weeks
grocery money on one of these crystal sets, and coughed up for
a license (well you did put up this 100 foot advert for your
receiver in your front garden didn't you!), the intial mastering
of the operation of a crystal set was quite a technical achievement.
Basically one fiddled simultaneously with a cats whisker and
a tuning knob until a sort of ethereal hubub of voices was heard.
Getting the crystal to work was a bit hit and miss... note the
comment about giving up and trying the spare one! There were
so many hurdles.. was the aerial connected properly? Did the
crystal work? Was the cats whisker OK, and in contact with a
suitable point on the uncertain crystal? Were the headphones
working and connected correctly?
Of course, once initial success was
behind one, in retrospect, it all seemed easy.
Tuning in this model was carried out
with a "handle" that connected to tappings on a coil,
which in conjunction with the aerial, resonated roughly at the
frequency of the desired station, and once adjusted resulted
in one station becoming slightly louder than lots of others.
Daytime listening was a lot different than night time listening.
During the day one would really only be able to hear one or two
stations but, at night, when the sun went down, the airwaves
came alive with dozens of strange foreign voices, often turning
into English at pre-arranged times, as the continental stations
were very aware of their avid British listeners and published
programmes to suit.
Because of the very low average level
of technical skills in wireless reception in the early 1920s,
tuning a station was generally not an easy matter. First one
had to have constructed a suitable aerial, a device covered by
government legislation dictating that it was not to exceed 100
feet from distant tip to receiver terminal. Secondly, for decent
reception a good earth connection had also to be made and, if
one listened to the proper authorities and advertisers, it was
pretty well essential to include a safety switch to minimise
electrocution from lightning. There were also articles on making
provision for getting the wire into one's house, using suitable
porcelain insulators and the like. Next came the intricasies
of connecting up the aerial and earth wires and headphones. In
fact there were lots of pitfalls on the way to settling down
and listening in. Once an enthusiast was successful and had demonstrated
his prowess to his own family, no doubt he became a consultant
to his neighbours.