Saturday - 01 November 2014

World’s first sports broadcast comes up for sale

21 November 2011Written by ATG Reporter

IN a world where instant electronic communication and exchange of information is available to all, two lengths of original Morse code ticker-tape seem akin to tele-antiquities.

However, these two little strips of paper to be offered at Mealy's of Dublin on December 13-14 mark Guglielmo Marconi's first ever use of a wireless telegraph transmission for commercial, journalistic or indeed sporting purpose, and are valued at €10,000-15,000.

In the mid 1890s, Marconi's Irish mother encouraged him to move from Italy to England to further his work in wireless telegraphy.

Having there demonstrated transmission of signals over distances of up to nine miles, Marconi - whose own experiments and work owed much to the experiments of others but who was far more astute and successful in exploiting the commercial potential of radio - filed for the world's first patent in wireless telegraphy, and in March 1897 set up The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company.

Marine safety and ship-to-shore communications were obvious applications of his transmissions, and Lloyd's asked Marconi to establish a wireless link between Rathlin Island off the coast of Country Antrim and Ballycastle on the mainland, to report on shipping entering the channel between Ireland and Scotland.

While engaged in this work, Marconi was asked by two Dublin newspapers - the Daily Express and Evening Mail - if he could enable them to report the results of the races at the Kingstown Regatta of the Royal St George Yacht Club at Dun Laoghaire, direct from the high seas. Marconi obliged and moved his equipment temporarily from Ballycastle and set up a transmitter in a tugboat fitted with a special mast.

In July 1898, Marconi transmitted the results of all the major races from his tugboat, miles out at sea, to a station in the harbourmaster's office, where they were printed on a Morse tape machine, decoded and telegraphed to the newspapers.

These historic pieces of ticker-tape were later given by Marconi to T.P. Gill, then editor of the Dublin Daily Express, sponsors of the Kingstown Regatta. The first strip, with manuscript decoding, also offers the world's first telegraphed spelling mistake, HERE A WIRE FORM MR MARCONI...

Marconi later established his celebrated transatlantic wireless stations in the West of Ireland, the first at Crookhaven in Co. Cork, the second near Clifden, in Connemara, which remained in operation until 1922, when it became a casualty of the Irish Civil War.

By Ian McKay

Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.

Written by

ATG Reporter

Back to top