hi trumpy, i belive these proably go back to the 30's or 40's. rember my dad talking about these.his uncle use to have a radio that used these until he got a wind generator. also around this time the TUNGAR & RECTIGON battery chargers were showing up, this way the rechargble batteries were showing up for use here in my neck of the woods.
Thanks guys!, I just wondered about the history of the thing. Battery valve sets were quite big here and in Australia and to a degree it was because of the lack of mains electricity in parts of both countries, being held back by both WW1 and WW2. I've had the inkling to open this thing up, but the "good" side of me says, just leave it as it is. I'm going to store it in a heavy plastic bag to make sure that it doesn't deteriorate any further. With vents of course.
Batteries like this one were widely used to power portable electronics in the "hollow state" era. Batteries were commonly available up to 510V output, used for things like photoflashes and geiger counters. You could actually give yourself a heck of a jolt if you weren't careful changing the battery!
Internal construction is most often stacks and stacks of small 1.5V carbon zinc button cells.
If I remember correctly, we plugged the wireless directly into the battery with little red/black bakelite plugs; the bayonet was about 1/8" diameter, split. As NJ says, nothing exciting inside, just piles of rectangular cells; each a sandwich of carbon plate/sal ammoniac gel, the gas absorber in a paper sac, ( manganese-dioxide), and a zinc plate, with thin connecting strips up to the socket block. I seem to remember the top being potted in gas-pitch. The sub-assembled cell was usually held together by a crimped card edge strip, but the last versions I saw had polythene/pvc? crimps. The wireless valve heaters ran off a separate 2v glass lead-acid accumulator, and before we got mains power in '52, I used to lug 2 of these 'occard lumps to the pub for charging each week. Cost, threepence (= 5 cents US) per acc, plus I got my pocket money when I returned, ( one and six = 30 cents US). Sixpence for my National Savings Stamp, ( paying off the lease-lend ), a bottle of R. White's lemonade (tuppence-halfpenny), a Mars bar, a toffee-apple, some licorice, or how about a quarter of pear drops?, some jelly babies?, a packet of sherbet-dip perhaps? or a few pennies into my firework club card for November 5th. Ah! the pleasure, the anticipation, peeping over that sweet-counter to make ones choice, ration-ticket gripped like a vice. And I must have squandered the rest!