Marconi archives


Apologies for cross-posting, but I thought some of might not have seen the

Cheers, Tim
>On Fri, 14 Feb 1997 06:38:43 -0500 Harry Marks
<hmarks@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu> wrote:
>>Andrew Butrica <abutrica@pscmail.msfc.nasa.gov> writes:
>>The following appeared in the online version of The Times
>>(London) on 10  February 1997.  I thought it would be of
>>interest to members of this list.
>>The Times, London, England  10 February 1997
>>Titanic memorabilia are included in the archive that Lord
>>Briggs wants saved
>>Marconi daughter joins battle to save archive
>>THE daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio, has
>>joined the fight to prevent the sale of a collection of
>>documents and apparatus belonging to the company her father
>>Princess Elettra Marconi-Giovanelli, who lives in Rome, says
>>in a letter to The Times today that she is appalled to hear of
>>the decision by GEC-Marconi to sell the collection by auction.
>>The collection should remain intact in Britain "at all costs",
>>she says. Her views are supported by Lord Briggs, the
>>historian whose work includes a history of the BBC. He has
>>also written to The Times, saying that to disperse the
>>collection would be "thoroughly irresponsible".
>>GEC-Marconi announced last month that it had instructed
>>Christie's to sell the archive. The first of the material
>>dates back 100 years, to when the young Marconi, unable to
>>find support in his native Italy, arrived in Britain
>>determined to make radio work. With backing from Sir William
>>Preece, chief engineer to the Post Office, he succeeded.
>>The collection, expected to raise GBP 1 million when it comes
>>up for  sale at Christie's South Kensington on April 24 and
>>25, contains many fascinating objects, including
>>"Marconigrams" sent from the Titanic after she struck an
>>An employee of the Marconi company was among the first to know
>>of the outbreak of the First World War. An engineer
>>intercepted a German Army message informing forces that war
>>had been declared. The message, picked up a day and a half
>>before the official announcement and hastily scribbled on the
>>back of a company order form, is expected to raise about GBP
>>A leading objector to the sale is John Sutherland, a former
>>managing director of Marconi Radar. "I think there is an
>>indifference to the Marconi name in the present GEC-Marconi
>>management and a lack of feeling for the integrity of the
>>Marconi inheritance," he said.
>>Behind the sale lies a story of disillusionment between the
>>company and  the museum world. A Marconi spokesman said that
>>three years ago the company began examining the collection in
>>anticipation of celebrating the centenary of Marconi's first
>>patent. Material held in the collection at Great Baddow,
>>Essex, and objects lent to museums were examined.  "We found
>>that a very large proportion of items on long-term loan were
>>poorly conserved, damaged or lost," the spokesman said. He
>>would not say  which museums were involved.
>>The company then proposed an anniversary exhibition at a major
>>museum.  The suggestion was turned down. Again, the company
>>refuses to name it, but the Science Museum would have been the
>>obvious choice. The Science  Museum declined to comment last
>>week. A proposed exhibition at the BBC  in Portland Place also
>>came to nothing. GEC-Marconi considered the possibility of
>>building a museum to house the collection, but balked at the
>>cost of "many millions of pounds", the spokesman said. Faced
>>with evidence that neither museums nor, apparently, the public
>>were much concerned about the material, the company decided to
>>The money raised will be used to set up an electronics
>>training scheme for teachers, to be run by the Institution of
>>Electrical Engineers, and to create a CD-Rom on the life and
>>work of Marconi for schools and libraries.
>>Gerry Wells, who runs a wireless museum in south London, said:
>>"GEC shouldn't be destroying their heritage and ours. Marconi
>>had to come  here to show the world how to do it  we should be
>>proud of the role  Britain played, not dispersing it to the
>>four corners of the world."   Rod Berman, a collector of early
>>radio valves, said that the GBP 1  million sale estimate may
>>be easily exceeded. "I'm horrified to see  it  come under the
>>hammer," he said. "We shall see a lot of heavyweight foreign
>>buyers and it will be dispersed all over the world."
>>Marconi's daughter, speaking from Rome, said she was "shocked
>>and  heartbroken" by the sale. She would like the collection
>>to stay in  England, but otherwise will ask the Italian
>>Government to bid for the archive.
>>Andrew J. Butrica
Tim Sherratt (Tim.Sherratt@asap.unimelb.edu.au)
Deputy Director, Australian Science Archives Project
GPO Box 783, Canberra ACT 2601  Ph: +61 (0)6 257 7985
ASAPWeb! on http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/
----> ASAP - Recovering Australia's Scientific Heritage