SG Brown Headphones

SG Brown Headphones Type F Aluminium earpiece casings and headbands black earpieces, original twisted flexible leads.2000 ohms. I have three sets of these headphones, one set "patent applied for " other two "patent 203121" working London,UK

Patent 203121 was granted in 1923, so presumably one of the above items was manufactured just before this date and one sometime later.

Sidney George Brown the company founder was a prolific inventor of electromechanical devices, including the "Microphone Amplifier" (1921) which permitted loudspeaker operation from a crystal set without the use of valves and a gyro compass. He set up a business in Watford (North of London) in the year 1910 and later had a works in North Acton, London W3. The company eventually became part of the Racal organisation which in turn became part of Thales-Racal Acoustics.

The Telegraph Condenser Company (TCC)was founded by S.G. Brown in 1906. The capacitors they manufactured were almost invariably green and will often be found in early valve radio sets.

Simon Ball has what appears to be a 'S.G.BROWN LTD type F microphone which he has used to do some recording and was wondering when it was made and how much it was worth. It looks as if it would be the same vintage as my headphones say 1920-30. The knob on the bottom is a volume control. Peter Sol reckons that it is simply a one sided earphone with a handle such as may have been used in a record shop and is exactly the same device as used in S G Brown type F earphones. Yes it will work as a microphone. Chris Clotworthy advises that it is, in actual fact, a hearing aid typically used in churches in about the 1950s and 1960s for those hard of hearing, driven from the 100v line PA amplifier. He has stripped these out of a couple of churches during sound system refurbishment. Dave Dawson G0ELJ says that he has a similar one but without the volume control (the lead comes straight out of the bottom of the handle), and he understands that this is a 'Ladies' Headphone', the intention being that ladies could listen to crystal sets without their hair being disordered by a conventional headset!!. Indeed, he has seen a 1920's picture showing one of these in this application.

Lincoln Rivas from Chile who collects headphones sent me the following files which are of considerable historical interest.

Patent specification of 1910 (420 kB PDF file)click here to read

Patent specification of 1923 (286 kB PDF file)click here to read

I have more recently been given a set of low resistance (60 Ohms) SG Brown phones which have a sensitivity adjustment on the back of each earpiece. They are each stamped with patent no.29833-10 which refers to the 1910 patent.

This is a close up view of one of the earpieces

Eric Thorniley recalls that my S G Brown headphones remind him of serious pain in the BBC TV News Studio B at Alexandra Palace where he found himself wearing a pair of trusty SG Browns in 1967. As he recalls the headband had the slotted extendable holder in the picture of the adjustable pair above, but the cans themselves matched the top photo. The pain was cause by the headband which would take a firm grip of a clump of hair so that, when you had to remove them quickly to rush off and do something, the hair was inclined to be left behind with the cans.