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Lissen: radios, kits for radios, batteries and components

This page is by way of a comment on a Lissen advertising leaflet, circa 1934. As usual with such material, no date is actually given for the sets depicted and, in fact, they cover more than one year of production. One interesting point is provided by the details of the 'Skyscraper 4' battery kit. The estimable Jonathan Hill, in 'Radio! Radio!' shows the kit and states that no loudspeaker or cabinet was provided - just a kit of chassis components packaged in cardboard. The Lissen leaflet says differently, offering the kit as kit of parts: or kit of parts plus cabinet: or kit of parts plus cabinet and PM loudspeaker. It would seem that the leaflet post-dates the original kit by at least a year, in which time Lissen added the 'extras'.

The leaflet offers a choice of four different kits, three of which were battery operated and one AC mains powered. There is only one superhet kit and that must have been quite something in it's time as it is battery powered but uses no less than seven valves. HT batteries must have been used up pretty fast, and accumulators recharged often. At the time of writing, I have not been able to locate a schematic diagram but my guess is that no multi-valves would have been employed, for example, Lissen may have used a separate diode valve for detection and possibly a separate oscillator valve. The kit was offered complete for 11.10s. (11.50) which was a great deal of money in those days, hence the offer of 'convenient gradual payment terms'.

 

By 1934, Lissen Ltd. of Edmonton, London and Isleworth, Middlesex,  had become a popular name both for the production of factory-built sets and for their range of kits for home construction. The company had been bought in 1928 by the Ever-Ready battery company, in fact, but retained its founder T.N. Cole as managing director. Cole later left and set up the Vidor battery company, in direct and damaging competition with Lissen/Ever-Ready. In fact, home construction was for a time at least quite a big hobby activity and although it is probably the case that any savings made by such home building were more apparent than real, the fact is that thousands of enthusiastic amateurs built these Lissen kits - and kits by other makers, such as Cossor - on their kitchen tables. Others avidly read the radio magazines of the day, preferring to learn at the same time as construct, from articles in Wireless World, Practical Wireless, Amateur Wireless and others and thereby becoming true enthusiasts to whom building a kit would be seen as cheating!

 

By the time this leaflet was published, kit sets were gradually falling from favour with potential purchasers, one contributory reason being, perhaps, that the savings to be made over a ready-built commercial radio were in reality modest in the extreme.

 

 

 

AC SKYSCRAPER

 

    

SKYSCRAPER SUPERHET 7

VINTAGE RADIO world: SIXTEEN YEARS OF WEB PRESENCE