Marconi Model 55--Bonzo's Radio?
BY JOSEPH JACKSON
It's always good when an article or cover captures the eye of a reader enough to pursue the topic further. Joseph Jackson makes an interesting connection between the Bonzo postcard radio on our June 2002 cover and his Marconi 55. (Editor)
Figure 1. The front cover of the June 2002 issue of A.R.C. showing Bonzo listening to a radio similar to the Marconi 55.
The Bonzo postcard featured on the cover of the June 2002 edition of ARC and shown in Figure 1 illustrated a radio that looked quite familiar to me. It is surprisingly similar to the British Marconi Model 55 that I acquired at a local flea market last year. See Figure 2. Although my radio has thumbwheels rather than knobs, it does have a Lazy Susan attached to the bottom for positioning the loop antenna built internally into the back cover. See Figure 3 (see print version). It also has a built-in speaker with a central adjustment knob. Both features are shown in the postcard illustration. Perhaps the radio on the postcard was the artist George Studdy's stylized version of the Marconi.
Figure 2. A front view of the Marconi Model 55 receiver showing more clearly its similarity to the "Bonzo" radio on the June 2002 A.R.C. cover.
The Marconi Model 55
The Marconi Model 55 is the only British radio in my collection, and the layout and tube lineup are somewhat unfamiliar to me. It has a complement of 5 tubes including one of each of the following: a P215, an L210, and a HL 2/C. There are two HL 210 tubes. Figure 4 shows the Marconi 55 with the back cover open showing the tube layout and the instruction chart in the lid. This instruction and calibration chart is shown in a close-up in Figure 5 (see print version).
Figure 4. The Marconi Model 55 receiver shown with the back cover open to expose the tubes and the instruction and calibration chart attached to the back cover lid.
On the instruction and calibration chart inserted inside the back cover, the B battery is labeled a "high tension battery" and supplied +96 and +108 volts. The grid bias battery had voltages of 11/2, 41/2 and 71/2 volts. Then, there is the low tension accumulator, which supplied the filament voltage.
Interposed between the tuning thumbwheel on the left and the volume thumbwheel on the right, there is a 3-position switch, for long-wave and shortwave tuning with a central "Off" position. The chart also includes a list of stations, ranging in wavelength from 260 to 1875 Kc.
Several British stations are listed, as well as Radio Paris and Konigs; the latter may refer to Konigsberg, the first capital of Prussia, now known as Kaliningrad, Russia, where Frederick the Great's grandfather proclaimed himself Prussia's first king in 1701.
Figure 6 speaks for itself.
Figure 6. Atop his Marconi 55 radio, Jack, Joe Jackson's puppy, no doubt dreams of his buddy Bonzo.
Any further information that can be supplied by the readers would be appreciated.
(Joseph G. Jackson, 6331 Old Forsyth Rd., Macon, GA 31210)
Joseph Jackson, a physician in the practice of diagnostic radiology in Macon, Georgia, is a graduate of Mercer University and a radio collector. His interests include collecting radios of local historical interest, as well as information about the history of radios in the South.