Vacuum Tubes That Went to Court

Vacuum Tubes That Went to Court

This is a copy, with a few updates, that this author uploaded to on 2/2/2021. Hope it has some interest?

This author, 15 years ago, attended an auction in New York City. While no old radios or vacuum tubes were mentioned, 1 lot did have several items that I had to purchase. The items came from the long-closed law offices of Penne, Davis, Marvin, and Edwards located at 165 Broadway, New York City. It was much like a time capsule of desks, file cabinets, office equipment, chairs, and storage units, etc., from the late 20’s would be the best guess. It looked as though the doors were closed, the lights turned off only to be opened many years later and the space and contents sold at this auction. Apparently, this law firm handled many radio- related patent infringement, patent submittals and other such cases. The small oak file storage unit purchased contained around 150 patent submittals from such inventors as Lowenstein, Alexanderson, Harold, and Fessenden. 5 vacuum tubes were also in this same cabinet with scratching’s and court case numbers marked on the tube bases and boxes indicating they had been submitted as evidence. There may have been other cabinets with such evidence I did not see or the prices were too high for me to find out. See below for those most interesting tubes and boxes.

Fig.s 1-6. One tube and box in the file cabinet was this Triad T-45. The T-45 appears to be new but upon testing, it had very little emission. It could be speculated that the buyer tried to return it but the seller would not refund the purchase price. It could also be that the presumed license from RCA was not in force for one reason or another. Hard to say for certain. As can be seen, a paper tag was affixed to the carton for the case- evidence #929-H and case # 884. Interestingly, the tube was purchased from the Federal Radio Store on 88 Cortlandt Street, New York City on 7/9/30 that was located on the now famous “Radio Row”. To be remembered, all the businesses in this square block were torn down to make room for the World Trade Center.

Figs. 7-1`1. The next court case tube in the file cabinet was this Donle- Bristol detector type B-6 made by the Donle-Bristol Corporation, Meriden, Connecticut. The court official wrote on the box label E for evidence #694 and signed it J. He also marked and signed the instruction sheet- ESP 7-14-26. It is also marked “Received, July 15, 1926” and further marked “Bureau of Investigation” on the rear of the instruction sheet. The Bakelite base of the tube has “7-14- 26” and the writers initials ESP scratched onto it. This tube also appears to have been only tested for this case?

Figs. 12-16. The next out of the cabinet was this Schickerling PS-15 power tube. The matching box has no markings but the tube has the evidence # as 1942 and the date 11-11-30 and the initials EWR scratched into the Bakelite base, and court case #563 on a paper tag glued to the glass bulb. The instruction sheet is missing and must have been lost in the shuffle. Looks as though this tube may have only been tested as it seems brand new. I can assume that Schickerling lost this case as they did not have a good reputation. The paper #50907, and the paper tag glued to the glass bulb do not match, but we know they were together for the court case. This is the sometimes the case for all brands of tubes as very little care was taken to match the box number to the tube number.

Figs. 17-21. This Schickerling S-700 tube also had a day in court on 2-1-1926 with evidence #659 and initials BE written on the flap and inside the box as well, court case 546 on the flap as well. No hook-up instructions as they were probably removed and not returned to the box. It has the customary Schickerling triangular internal structure. Again, this tube appears to be un-used so one could only speculate as to why it came to court. Conrad Schickerling had a bad reputation over his years in business so that may be part of it. The Holland Radio Store was just up the street from the Cortlandt Street’s radio row.

Figs. 22-23. The fifth tube found was this SX-4000. The base has the initial M scratched on the base along with April 9th, 1927, the list and sold prices and case # 7011. Holland Radio stores is another New York City group of radio stores. CT-271 and BL-2 are there for an unknown reason.

Figs. 24-26 show a few examples of some of the 150 or so original patents that were applied for from the law firm law offices of Penne, Davis, Marvin, and Edwards located at 165 Broadway, New York City. Much other paper was found but it was much too damaged to be saved. Water and mice took its toll. Other tubes and paper were in the other cabinets sold but the buyers refused me even a quick look inside. I can only imagine.

Fig. 27. The law firm of Penne, Davis, Marvin and Edwards were involved in some heavy patent fights as seen in this 1923 article in “Radio Broadcast”. Thanks to Len Arzoomanian for providing the article.

Fig. 28 A picture of “Radio Row” taken in 1936.

Fig. 29. Shown in Fig. 18 is the cabinet all the tubes and paper were stored in. It is a nice item in its own right.