‘Television’ signed by John Logie Baird raises £1440 for Oxfam

A copy of the earliest book on television, signed by the inventor of television itself, John Logie Baird, has raised £1440 for Oxfam, more than the estimated value, raising vital funds for Oxfam’s life-saving work.

The book, entitled ‘Television’, was handed in anonymously to the Oxfam bookshop in Morningside in Edinburgh, and was valued originally at between £800 and £1000.

Published in 1926, it gives a brief history of TV up to that date, and ends with a detailed explanation of Baird’s work and inventions, including an account of the first public demonstration of moving silhouettes he gave at Selfridges in March 1925.

How it came to be signed by Baird is unclear, although the location of the signature (on the blank half-title, rather than the title page or frontispiece) suggests it was his own personal copy.

The book was bought by an anonymous bidder and, although there was interest in it from Europe and America, it will remain in the UK.

Andy Crosby, Manager of Oxfam’s Morningside bookshop, said:

“It was such a stroke of luck that someone handed this book into our shop and it turned out to be so valuable – I wish we knew who it was so we could thank them.

“The whole reason that Oxfam has shops on the high street is to raise money for our work in the fight against poverty around the world, including here in Scotland, so the sale of this book has been a huge boost, and whoever bought it has made a really important contribution to helping people change their lives for the better.”

Luke Batterham, Bonhams book specialist, said:

“This was a fine association copy of one of the earliest books on television and there was quite a lot of interest in it in the run up to the auction, with enquiries from Britain, America and Europe.

“The author draws heavily on the work of John Logie Baird, one of the founding fathers of television and, as it has his signature in the front, is believed to have been his own personal copy, making it a wonderfully evocative item relating to the invention which, arguably, has had a profounder effect on the twentieth century than any other.”

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