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Only 40,000 "Masterpiece" wireless sets were made and were given away free in exchange for coupons from packets of cigarettes in 1930.

The cigarettes in question were "Best Dark Virginia", and in order to qualify for a free radio, it was necessary to spend over 12 which would have purchased 500 packets of ten.

At that time the price of receivers was very high, because of a protection scheme run by a cartel of British manufacturers.
The valves that were used had to be British, and the royalties had to be paid to the Marconi Company and the BBC.

The sale of cheap foreign imports was banned but giving them away "free" wasn't, so this loophole was exploited in order to sell more cigarettes.

The receivers were made by KB but cheap imported valves were supplied by the tobacco company.

The KB shown here is one of the earliest Bakelite-cased models and is an extremely neat design using a TRF circuit around a couple of 2-volt valves. The lid which carries the loudspeaker hinges up to reveal the tuning and reaction controls.
Unfortunately although the receiver is very small, the batteries were standard and had to be employed externally to the set.
This changed the neat receiver into a bit of a messy affair with its trailing leads and collection of batteries.

Nortel Collection

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