Here’s something fun to have around the house. The world’s (or maybe just the UK’s) oldest working television! I thought we had the world’s oldest TV at my dad’s house when I was a kid (10 buttons, one for every channel we got), but it turns out there actually is one more aged. This 1936 model produced by Marconi (yes, that Marconi) is on the block at auctioneer Bonham’s, where it’s expected to go for £5000 at the very least. That’s if everyone doesn’t use up all their money on this full-sized polar bear automaton.
Yes, even without HDMI, 1080p, local dimming LED backlighting, or Netflix support, this thing is going to sell for twice the price of TVs ten times the size. Why? Oh yeah, because it’s awesome.
The owner, Londoner GB Davis, bought it the week after TV transmissions began in the UK (in November ’36) for £99, 15s. Tragically, the Crystal Palace that housed the TV transmitter burned down only days later, and the device wasn’t in use again until 1946. It’s an incredibly rare variety of TV, as appraiser Laurence Fisher notes:
This is being sold by the late owner’s family and is the oldest working TV set in Britain. These sets were really a side effect of our secret radar research and they are very similar inside to the radar. Logie Baird and Marconi had separate companies but used the same people to make the sets, but Marconi became the most popular maker. Baird made the first mechanical television in 1926 and this was the first electronic version. I’ve handled 38 pre-war tells and this is the finest and even comes with the original invoice.
It’ll be sold on April 19th at Knightsbridge. They expect it to pull in quite a few pounds. Sterling, that is.