Early Television
Early Television
Early Television Early Television

Mechanical Television

Baird Televisor Sold at Bonhams Auction

Early Television

Lot 3


English, circa 1930

Sold for £21,250 (US$ 28,237) inc. premium

A rare Baird Televisor, English, circa 1930 by The Plessey Company, restored by George Windsor in 1978 to working order, No. 192, with 30-line square hole Nipkow disc, original pip-top selenium cell neon, Televisor motor with speed rack, Zenith voltage dropper, on polished mahogany baseboard, under chocolate brown tinplate case with cream lining, plain cast "Eye-of-the-World" plaque to the front with Baird signature, on bracket feet, 27in (69cm) wide


  • John Logie Baird FRSE (1888–1946) was a Scottish engineer and inventor, famously noted as inventor of the mechanical TV, introducing his early form of the television, in the 1920's.

    The creation of the mechanical television began in 1924, when Baird managed to transmit a flickering image across 10 feet to accompany sound. By the following year, he had achieved successful transmission of recognisable human faces, in pictures with light and shade.

    As a result, on 26th January 1926, Baird held a public demonstration in Soho, London, before members of the Royal Institute and a journalist from The Times. Through this demonstration, Baird manipulated the head of a ventriloquists' doll, displaying an image measuring only 3 ½in x 2in. Though clearly still in basic form, with blurred images, this demonstration outlined the potential of Baird's mechanical technique. This early system consisted of a revolving shutter and light sensitive cell, before a large wooden revolving disc containing lenses.

    By 1927 he succeeded in transmitting content across a 438 mile telephone line between London and Glasgow, before setting up Baird Television Development Company (BTDC) the same year. Through the BTDC the first transatlantic broadcast was transmitted from London and New York in 1928, and the first live transmission of the Epsom Derby.

    The following year Baird's technology was mass produced for public sale, releasing the first television receiver 'The Televisor', made by Plessey in England. Selling for approximately 26 pounds, they were at the time relatively expensive. This same year, the BBC began to use Baird's company for its TV broadcasts.

    Having previously been transmitted separately, it wasn't until 1930 that sound and vision began to be transmitted simultaneously. As television development gained momentum, the 1930's saw the introduction of electronic models. Eventually in 1935, the BBC committee compared side by side Baird's mechanical Televisor with Marconi- EMI's all electronic television system, which transmitted on 405 lines, surpassing Baird's 240 lines. The BBC subsequently dropped Baird's mechanical system in 1937.
    Baird however had continued to develop his ideas within the exploration of electronic systems and experimented with high- resolution colour and three- dimensional television, although none of his developments were reproduced beyond his lab, commercially.

    Whilst electronic systems swiftly exceeded Baird's original mechanical designs, it is undeniable that Baird initiated the beginnings of television invention, piloting our modern-day love affair with the television.

    Provenance: The owner's grandfather ran an electrical shop in the Thames Valley which opened in the 1930's. This televisor has been stored in the family home for at least the past 45 years.