Do Not Adjust Your Set: Oldest Working Television To Be Sold at Auction

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Marconiphone television reciever made by Marconi from about 1936

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A TV from the 1930s is expected to be sold for thousands at auction on April 19 in London’s tony Knightsbridge neighborhood.

The Marconi model was manufactured back in 1936 and purchased for nearly £100 just three weeks after television transmissions began. Back then, that amounted to over half the annual average wage and would be equivalent to almost £4,000 ($6,500) in today’s money, which would pretty much buy you any set on the market.

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Yet there was a bitter irony, in that the owner, Mr GB Davis of Dulwich, southeast London, could only watch his magical box for a few hours. The reason? Not so much jealous neighbors disposing of the TV, but rather that the nearby transmitter burned down, meaning that pictures weren’t available until 1946.

The 75-year-old set has a 12-inch screen, contained in a walnut and mahogany case with the picture reflected via a mirror that opens from the top. The pre-sale estimate is £5,000 ($8,000), but Bonhams, the auction house which is selling it, believe it could go for much more.

To put this special set in some context, there are more 18th century Stradivarius violins in existence than pre-World War II TVs and, to make it that bit rarer, this TV has only had two owners. “I’ve handled 38 pre-war tells and this is the finest and even comes with the original invoice,” said Bonhams specialist Laurence Fisher. “It cost a huge amount and the owner must have had wealth and means…It is a very rare thing and there are collectors who would love to have it.”

And in case you’re toying with making a bid, bear this golden nugget in mind: the serial number is H1007, and as it’s generally thought that the numbers began at 1,000, this TV is 007, making it the James Bond of televisions. A (TV) license to thrill, if you will. (via Daily Telegraph)

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