Baird TV sets fetch high prices

John Logie Baird
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baird_tv_1937A 1937 television set and drinks cabinet made by Helensburgh TV inventor John Logie Baird's Baird Television Company fetched £18,000 at Bonhams auction house in Knightsbridge, London, on September 30 2009.

 Lot 682, it was one of 24 old TV sets in the Michael Bennett-Levy QC Early Technology Sale, and was expected to fetch the highest price of at least £3,000.

The massive set has a 15-inch screen which faces skyward in order to reflect off a mirror in the fold-up lid. Also included in the cabinet are a radio, record player and a champagne-stocked drinks cupboard.

A Bonhams spokesman said: "This was a unique sale with no precedent. We sold a number of Baird televisions, a few of which were hand-built by the man himself.

"Prior to the Second World War TV sets were very expensive — over 100 guineas typicallot_649ly, which was equivalent to the cost of two cars."

Michael Bennett-Levy, who is 62, has a vast knowledge of early television and has written two books on the subject. He decided to sell his collection after a recent health scare, and is to retire to France.

Ten other Baird items were included in the auction, at which buyers paid £680,000 in all.

The highest purchase price of £19,200 was paid for lot 649 (right), a John Logie Baird Limited Lyric TV and Wireless Console made in 1946.

Lot 694, a Baird televisor by the Plessey Company, circa 1930, fetched £18,000, while lot 695, a Baird Televisor window display model on the Plessey design, circa 1930, went for £5,040.

lot_634Lot 634 (left), a Baird Countryman TV console from 1949, went for £816, and lot 640, a Baird Everyman table model TV from the same year went for £696.

Five lots of information relating to Baird televisions each went for £1,800.

Lot 729 was a Baird International Television Ltd. set of lecturing magic lantern slides, circa 1932, 730 was a Baird Television Development Co. Ltd. Televisor booklet from 1928, and 731 was a 1928 Television booklet from the same year.

The Baird Television — Seeing by Wireless, Television is Helot_732re, 1926, was lot 732, while lot 735 was a programme of TV Transmissions by the Baird Process — 71 sheets of typed weekly schedules of programmes from November 17 1930 to June 10 1932.

Baird was listed at no.4 in a new poll in October 2009 to name the greatest British inventor of all time, behind physicist Michael Faraday, railway and steamship designer Kingdom Brunel, and William Caxton who introduced the printing press to Britain.

In fifth place was telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

The survey was conducted by Chevrolet, who questioned over 1,200 UK adults to compile a list of Britain's top rule-changers — free thinkers who refuse to conform and changed the rules in their own respective areas — to mark the launch of the new Chevrolet Cruze.