In Britain, the BBC (originally the British Broadcasting Company, later the British Broadcasting Corporation) was instrumental in the 'roll-out' of commercial wireless during the 1920s. During  those early days of broadcasting the BBC raised a large part of its revenue from royalties arising from the mandatory application of the BBC stamp to commercially produced wireless sets and wireless 'accessories'. In fact there were a total of three types of BBC stamp spanning some 5-6 years. The following  information describes the various types of stamp and the timing and significance of their introduction. The material is reproduced  verbatim from the book 'Radio! Radio!' 3rd edition ISBN 0 9511448 71, by Jonathan Hill, published in 1996 by Sunrise Press, Spice House, 13 Belmont Road, Exeter, Devon EX1 2HF Tel: 01392 411565 with the generous permission of Jonathan Hill. This book is a 'must' for anyone interested in vintage wireless. Please take the time to visit Jonathan's website at:


The B.B.C. Stamp & Post Office Registration Scheme

fig.907.(a).Left: BBC/PMG stamp, November 1st 1922 to September 1924. (b).Centre: BBC/EBM stamp, September 1924 to 1927. (c).Right: B.B.C. 'Trademark' stamp, September 1924 to 1927.

November 1st 1922

The scheme was introduced whereby all commercially manufactured crystal sets, valve receivers and valve amplifiers bought for use under the Broadcast Licence (introduced on the same day) had to be of British manufacture, made by a member firm of the British Broadcasting Company and approved by the Post Master General. All such wireless equipment had to bear the BBC/PMG stamp (fig.907a) together with a G.P.O. registration number.

The letters 'BBC' signified that the equipment was made by a member firm of the British Broadcasting Company and was subject to a royalty payment, although the stamp was not a guarantee of the quality of the workmanship.

Before going into production, a sample of each new model had to be sent to the Post Office and tested to see that it did not radiate electrical interference to a neighbouring aerial. In valve receivers, variable reaction was not allowed in the aerial circuit, but fixed reaction was, as long as it was incapable of causing oscillations. Variable reaction was permitted in subsequent stages if there was no specific coupling between these and the aerial circuit. Only non-radiating sets were approved and these were given their own G.P.O. registration number which had to be displayed on the set together with the embossed or transfer printed BBC/PMG stamp which was circled with the words 'TYPE APPROVED BY THE POST MASTER GENERAL'. The approved model was secured and sealed and available for inspection by Post Office officials who had the power to select sets from the production line for comparison with the sealed approved model.

Accessories such as valves, headphones and loudspeakers also had to be of British manufacture and made by a member firm of the B.B.C., and while they were neither tested nor given G.P.O. registration numbers, they did have to bear the BBC/PMG stamp; in the case of valves this was etched into the glass with hydrofluoric acid applied with a rubber stamp.

October 1st 1923

Royalties on BBC/PMG-stamped equipment were reduced and were abolished altogether on valves, headphones and loudspeakers. Post Office requirements for broadcast receivers were drastically revised and the testing of sets with regard to reaction interference was abolished. Where any type of reaction was provided, manufacturers were now only responsible for advising the purchaser by label, leaflet or instruction booklet on how to use the set without causing it to oscillate and energise any neighbouring aerials.

Newly designed receivers still had to be submitted to the Post Office for testing and those approved were still given a G.P.O. registration number, but they were now merely given reception tests to see if they were capable of covering the Broadcast Band, now extended by the Sykes Committee to cover 300 to 500 metres on both a short (30 ft.) and a long (100 ft.) aerial.

Any model which had been approved before October 1st 1923 could now have its seal broken and its circuit modified without the manufacturer having to re-submit it to the Post Office for testing. He simply sent a brief description of the proposed changes (these almost invariably involved the use of variable reaction in the aerial circuit) and when approved, the same G.P.O. registration number was assigned to the modified model.

July 1st 1924

Royalties on BBC/PMG-stamped equipment were abolished together with the Post Office's testing and registration scheme. Under new regulations, receivers, and valve amplifiers used with the Broadcast Licence could now be bought from any British manufacturer and not solely from one that was a member of the B.B.C. - member firms, however, were still obliged to exhibit the BBC/PMG stamp on their wireless equipment, even though it was no longer submitted to, and had received no approval from, the Post Master General.

September 1924

For receivers manufactured by member firms of the B.B.C., a second type of B.B.C. stamp appeared, replacing the original BBC/PMG stamp. This new type )known as the 'BBC/EBM' stamp, fig.907b) had the letters 'BBC' encircled with the phrase 'ENTIRELY BRITISH MANUFACTURE' which replaced the redundant phrase 'TYPE APPROVED BY POST MASTER GENERAL'. It was soon joined by a third, but little-used type of stamp without any peripheral wording, which was simply the B.B.C. trademark (fig.907c).

January 1st 1925

The B.B.C. stamp regulations were abolished, and any member firms were no longer obliged to exhibit any kind of B.B.C. stamp on their equipment. However, for prestige purposes and perhaps to show the patriotism of manufacturers, many receivers continued to be produced bearing the BBC/EBM stamp, or, to a lesser extent, the third type of stamp, until as late as 1927.

B.B.C. Royalties

During the first two years of its existence, the British Broadcasting Company's revenue depended quite heavily upon royalties levied on receivers and accessories made by its member manufacturing companies. The royalty was first introduced on November 1st 1922 and was levied on the wholesale price of all BBC/PMG-stamped wireless apparatus until its abolition on July 1st 1924. (Note the reduction on royalty charges from October 1st 1923).

(1/11/22-30/9/23) (1/10/23-1/7/24)
Royalty Royalty
Crystal Set 7s.6d. 1s.0d.
Microphone Amplifier 7s.6d. 5s.0d.
1-Valve/Crystal Set 1.7s.6d. 11s.0d.
2-Valve/Crystal Set 2.2s.6d. 18s.6d.
1-Valve Set 1.0s.0d. 10s.0d.
2-Valve Set 1.15s.6d. 17s.6d.
Multi-Valve Set (extra per valve) 10s.0d. 5s.0d.
Valve Amplifier (per valve) 10s.0d. 5s.0d.
Valve Itself 3d. Charge Abolished
Headphones (per earpiece) 3d. Charge Abolished
Loud-Speaker 3s.0d. Charge Abolished

                                       Price figures in the central column are from The Wireless Trader, page 280, November 1923.



Copyright 2001 - 2002 Lorne Clark