COMMUNICATIONS INSTRUMENTS AND DEVICES FOR SALE
hand keys, bugs, sounders, relays, resonators,
railroad and ham radio equipment, etc.

ARTIFAX BOOKS
151 Barton Road
Stow MA 01775 USA


Before ordering, please check our home page for recent announcements.


WANTED: old stock ticker


This page includes key parts, miscellaneous bugs, paddles, keyers and other items,


as well as links to our other pages of keys, sounders and other instruments.
For telegraph and communications books (new and used), see the links on our home page.

Be sure to check this page from time to time since we continually add new items.
and if you don't see something you are interested in,
just ask... we may have it in stock "not yet listed."

You may notice "sold" instruments shown on our pages... One of our goals is to provide information to collectors, so even though a key or sounder has been sold we will often leave the description and photographs up if it was an interesting or unusual item or variation. We hope this helps your collecting specialty.


Collecting keys: some ideas


Cleaning key contacts.

The contacts on hand keys and bugs may eventually become oxidized, and silver contacts should be cleaned with care. The Signal Corps TG-5 sets (-A and -B) came with a burnisher to be used to clean the contacts of the bell, jack, key and relay. Burnishers are available from various sources, but if you don't have one handy, the TG-5 manual (TM 11-351) recommends "a piece of smooth steel or a piece of unglazed [non-glossy] bond or other paper which will not leave lint on the contacts." A crisp, new dollar bill will also do a good job.

Treat contacts gently. Insert the burnisher (tool or paper) between the contacts, press the contacts together with only slight pressure, and withdraw the burnisher. Do this two or three times each for the dot and the dash contacts on a bug.


The bug "dot stabilizer"

I have found several semi-automatic keys ("bugs") with foreign objects stuffed into the "U" of the pendulum dot spring -- usually a bit of foam or rubber, once a piece of wood! The intent was apparently to stop the tendency of the dot contacts to rub or slide against each other on make or break, when tension of the movable contact spring was weakest or non-existent. Aftermarket "dot stabilizers" were offered, which would pre-tension the dot spring in an attempt to avoid this effect; at least one manufacturer (McElroy) added them to at least one of his models.

For more information and photos on this device -- and a source to obtain one for your bug -- see this page.


ORDERING, PAYMENT AND SHIPPING

All items are subject to prior sale, so e-mail me before paying to check that what you are interested in is still available, to confirm shipping cost, or to ask questions. In the winter we may be out west in our trailer and might not have your item with us (although we can place a hold on an item to reserve it for you). Our email address is

We accept US payment by paypal.com (made to any of our email addresses), by money order, or by personal check with your shipping address imprinted on it. Foreign payment may be made by paypal or by international postal money order. If you pay by mail, let me know and I will hold your item for you.

Shipping costs are not cumulative. If you are interested in different items, I will provide shipping cost. Some small items will ship with a bug at no added cost. But others may be best shipped separately; for example, it is cheaper to ship a few knobs (first class mail) separate from a book (media mail) since knobs cannot be included with media mail.


Prices and condition

Prices reflect my time and effort in acquiring these items, as well as their scarcity and condition. All instruments are used, original, complete and working, unless otherwise noted. None have been "restored" or polished, except where noted. I leave all such work to the preference of the buyer.


Restoration

Don't be afraid to restore your instruments. Often a "restoration" can be accomplished with little more than a good cleaning -- sixty years of dust and atmospheric pollution can be washed away in a few minutes. To see what one buyer did to improve the look of his keys, see this page.


On this page, below, we show:

Spare parts, small parts such as springs, paddles, terminal nuts, etc.
Cord-and-wedges for "plugging in" your bug to a hand key.
"Other" Bugs, paddles, Electronic Keyers and Miscellaneous telegraph instruments.


Links to our other pages for specific type or name brand items


Landline and railroad telegraph instruments. Everything telegraphic other than single keys.
This page includes sounders, relays, resonators, signs, call boxes, KOB key/sounder sets, etc. (Note, hand keys are on a separate page, keep reading...)
Click here to open this window.


Hand Keys (also called Straight Keys) and sideswipers. Landline, spark wireless and radio hand keys.
Click here to open this window.
Note, McElroy and Military hand keys will be found on their respective pages (links below).


McElroy keys and telegraph apparatus including Mac-Key bugs, McElroy hand keys, and code tape equipment (punched Wheatstone and ink slip).
Also Telegraph Apparatus Company (TAC) instruments.
For information on McElroy and all of the McElroy keys, click here.
To open our page of McElroy instruments for sale, Click here.


Vibroplex Keys and Accessories.
Click here to see vintage Vibroplex keys for sale.


Code Practice Instruments and Training Devices,
including U.S. military technical manuals on Signal Corps code practice equipment
.
Click here to open this window.


U.S. Signal Corps J-38 keys.
This page includes complete information on the J-38 variations, as well as a list of the keys for sale. Click here to open this window.


Other U.S. Military Keys and communications apparatus.
Army Signal Corps hand keys and J-36 bugs, Navy and Maritime keys, field and shipboard instruments, etc.
Click here to open this window.


Railroad instruments and books.
Such items as RR-marked telegraph keys, scissors-extension telephones, jack boxes, rule books and RR-related books.
Click here to open this window.


Foreign Keys, military and civilian.
Click here to open this window.


Paper and ephemera relating to telegraphy, wireless and radio.
Click here to open this window.


SPARE PARTS FOR KEYS including knobs, paddles, springs


Ordering and shipping. Add $2.50 for USA shipping of any quantity, any mix, of these small parts. NO extra charge if ordered with a key. Please email us before paying so that we can check our inventory.

See what others have to say about using these parts.

ES Knobs
At left in this photo are new-old-stock Bakelite knobs as used on the Electric Specialty bugs in the 1930s. These will fit almost all new and old hand keys, bugs and paddles: Bunnell, McElroy, Vibroplex, railroad and Western Union keys, military Signal Corps J-38, etc. The top surface is 1-1/8 inches in diameter, and have an 8-32 threaded brass female insert. They attach to the key lever with a short screw or stud (grub screw); this photo shows a screw holding the knob (you supply the screw).
KNOB-ES: SOLD OUT

Lionel/Bunnell J-36 paddles
At right in the photo are the original new-old-stock teardrop shaped paddles used on the Signal Corps Lionel and Bunnell J-36 bugs in the 1940s. This is the scarce, authentic paddle for those keys. The correct paddle can double the value of your J-36.
While this paddle was not used on the Vibroplex J-36, they have one #4 untapped hole and an 8-32 tapped hole and will fit perfectly on almost all Vibroplex bugs using the original Vibroplex screws. And one restorer used one of these paddles on a Speed-X model 500 bug using #4 and #6 screws and nuts, without having to modify the paddle. (To use these on some other bugs you may have to enlarge the small hole, and Bakelite is difficult to drill. We recommend the ES paddle below for such bugs.)
PADDLE-J36: $9.00 each plus shipping

ES paddles
In the center of the above photo, and at right, are the new-old-stock die-cut phenolic paddles used on the Electric Specialty bugs in the 1930s. They can be used as is, or they can be filed or ground to your preferred shape. The material and thickness is about the same as the old style (pre-WWII) Vibroplex paddles, and this can be shaped easily on a stone grinding wheel to make an almost exact replacement for those bugs. This photo shows one of my other mods for a different bug.
This photo -----> The paddle on the left is our part #ES1; it has a matte finish and a #8 (about 5/32") untapped hole. ES1 would be the better choice of these two for standard hardware.
The paddle on the right is our #ES2; it has a shiny finish and a larger, 1/4" hole.
PADDLE-ES1: $2.00 each ... PADDLE-ES2: $1.00 ... plus shipping

Bug feet
I use these feet to replace badly worn, incorrect or missing feet on my Vibroplex bugs, but you can use them on any bug. You can even use them to replace "good" bug feet -- while they are a little larger than the recent Vibroplex feet, they are softer rubber and "grip" the operating desk better. Screws not included.

These are 3/4 inches in diameter and 3/8 inches high. For Vibroplex bugs use 6-32 x 3/8" round head screws (not included). Sold in a pack of three.
BUG-FEET: $6.00 for three plus shipping

Navy type knobs
Navy type knobs have a skirt below the knob to protect fingers from the sometimes-high voltages on keys. On the left is a vintage one-piece spark key knob; on the right is a two-piece Speed-X key style knob. Both have the standard 8-32 screw thread. We have a few of each available.

KNOB-SPARK: SOLD OUT

KNOB-SPEEDX: $15.00 each plus shipping

Hand key circuit closer knobs
These black plastic knobs are shorter than the old-time circuit closer knobs. They look like (perhaps are identical to) the short knob used on the "modern" Bunnell sideswiper key offered in the 1960s. These knobs are 1/2" high and 1/2" diameter. They have a brass 8-32 thread insert, and so will attach to most vintage American hand key circuit closer (shorting) levers with an 8-32 screw or stud (not included).
SOLD OUT

Hand key springs.
Conical springs for your straight (hand) telegraph keys, made by a commercial manufacturer. The model spring was an ARH J-38 spring, since this size and style fit many other keys. The base (large end) is just over 1/4 inch diameter (0.270" spec.) and the free height is about 1/2 inch. These springs fit well and work fine on most Bunnell, Signal Electric, McElroy, Speed-X, all Signal Corps J-38 makes, and many other hand keys.
If you find the tension (pressure) is a little high when installed on your key, just clip one or two turns off with wire cutters. They are of a uniform size and consistent tension, unlike hand-wound springs. However, they may not be approprate for those hand keys that require "pigtail" springs that are supported in a small hole in the key frame (but see below).
$2.00 each plus shipping

The photos below show a grubscrew (setscrew) with the knob, and the second photo shows the improved appearance when one is used instead of a regular screw. (8-32 thread grubscrew is not provided, your hardware store has them.) The third and fourth photos show how I made a pigtail spring from one of our conical springs. This is shown on a Western Union 2A legless key. I bent the bottom of the spring out, up, and horizontal using two pliers (one flat-nosed and one needle-nosed pair).



A GREAT DISPLAY ITEM ...

McElroy Chart of Codes and Signals. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Ted McElroy, world champion telegrapher during the 1920s and 30s, created his famous Chart of Codes in 1943. It was printed on a cloth backing and measured 25 by 38 inches.

The chart contains codes in five languages (including Greek, Russian, Japanese Kata Kana), Continental and Morse, Q and Z signals, etc. When first presented at the February 1943 Veteran Wireless Operators of America (VWOA) meet, the Secretary declared it to be "the most complete and authoritative work of its kind that has ever been published."

The chart we offer is a copy of the near-mint chart from our personal collection, professionally reproduced in high resolution on a heavy canvas backed poster. Our chart is actually 50% heavier than the original, and is identical to the original in size and appearance.

At over 2 x 3 feet, this is a great display item for the telegraph instrument collector or amateur radio operator.

$125.00 (USA S&H = $9.00 / due to size foreign shipping must be priority mail, inquire for rate)

Small McElroy chart
As above, but smaller 11 x 17 inch size, printed in full color on heavy paper card stock. Just right to pin to your wall or suitable for framing. Makes a geat gift to a key collector or amateur radio Morse code (CW) operator.
$7.95 (plus shipping = USA S&H $3.00, Canada $3.50, other foreign $6.50)

For more McElroy items for sale, see this page.


CORD AND WEDGES


The cord-and-wedge was used by railroad and Western Union telegraphers years ago to connect their personal bug to the company hand key on the operating table. The wedge end would be slipped between the base and connector strip of the hand key. Some had no name on them, while others had a brand stamped on the brass wedge leafs.

we sometime have vintage name-stamped cord and wedges (stamped on one or both brass leafs). A Vibroplex-marked cord and wedge will be on the Vibroplex page; a Bunnell or Lionel J-36 cord and wedge will be on the "other U.S. military keys" page; a McElroy cord and wedge will be on the McElroy page. Those unmarked, or marked with other brands, will appear immediately below.

I check them for proper continuity. If you use one, the brass leafs and wire terminals may have to be cleaned of patina for good operational continuity.

Ordering: Add $3.50 for USA shipping of any cord-and-wedge. NO extra charge if ordered with a key.

---------------------------------

#CWWU3 A Western Union Telegraph Company cord and wedge, marked W.U.TEL.CO. on one leaf. This has a red ferrule and an original black 24" cloth cord. The cord is in poor cosmetic condition but continuity tests OK.

Overall view.

$24.00

#CWWU4 A Western Union Telegraph Company cord and wedge, marked W.U.TEL.CO. on one leaf. This has a red ferrule and plain 12" wires (possibly an old replacement). Continuity tests OK.

Overall view.

$20.00

#CWN613A This cord-and-wedge has a black 24 inch cloth cord and a red ferrule. It is unmarked. Very good used, checked, OK.

$29.00

#CWTHACKSTON This cord-and-wedge has a green 20 inch cloth cord and a red ferrule marked "Thackston." Probably early 1920s - 30s. It shows NO continuity (probably open where the cord enters the ferrule). Rare, needs repair.

$39.00

#CWN613D This cord-and-wedge has a green 16 inch cloth cord. The ferrule appears to be fiber with brass end caps. The wedge leafs are small and short. Probably early 1900s. It shows continuity but the cord is in poor condition. Rare.

$39.00


MARTIN / BUNNELL BUG CASES


These cases are similar to the Vibroplex bug cases (which appear on the Vibroplex page), but they were made for and used with the Martin Research and Manufacturing Flash Keys and the Bunnell-Martin Flash Keys (Original and Lightning Bug clones). They were also available for Bunnell's military bugs, the Bunnell Signal Corps J-36 and the Bunnell Navy bugs (both variations). They are scarcer than, and differ slightly from, the Vibroplex cases. The most obvious difference is the cover latch, which does not lock.


#0231 Martin Research - Bunnell bug case.

Very good condition. Looks like it has had some black touch-up around the hinges; two corners are scuffed to the wood. The handle and interior are very good.
Another view.

$100.00 (S&H=$12.00).


Miscellaneous Bugs, paddles, Electronic Keyers
and Miscellaneous Telegraph Instruments.


For the items below...

Shipping in the USA is $12.00 for bugs, $7.00 for hand keys, and $10.00 for sounders, unless otherwise stated.


For other items if no S/H stated please email your address for a quote. Pay by personal check or money order, or by credit card, e-check or account balance through paypal.com (paypal-paid shipments must be to your confirmed address).

On recent additions to our list below, you can click on the image for a larger view.


#N405TRY Unknown make bug.

I call this my "bat key" due to the shape of the upper pivot plate. The base is cast iron and measures 2-1/2 x 6-1/4 inches. The four pivot uprights are part of the casting, as is a raised rib that runs the length of the key. This bug is heavy, weighing a full four pounds.

Only three or four of these rare keys are known. It is thought the maker was in Canada, as at least two of them were found there. This is complete as found; the wire terminal nuts do not match, but everything else appears to be original. An interesting and unusual bug for your collection or operating desk.

Another view.
Left side.
Right side.
Bottom.

SOLD


#590BLG Bunnell-Martin Flash Key.

In the late 1930s the sons of Horace Martin made "Flash Keys," which were copies of Vibroplex models. Soon thereafter, in the early 1940s, Bunnell acquired the rights to make them. This is the Bunnell-Martin type 5-48, based on the Vibroplex Original. Note the "Packard grille" shape of the pivot frame -- a Bunnell design feature (seen also on the Bunnell J-36).

This bug has been in my personal collection for over twenty years. It is in excellent condition; the black crackle base finish is like new. A previous owner has scratched his initials on the nameplate, and lightly on the bottom. Old call letters also appear on the bottom, together with a red stamp ("C1"?). A scarce addition to any vintage bug collection.
Nameplate.
Bottom.

$395.00 (S&H=$12.00).


#L806CLE Leach "Speedoplex" bug.

Bug made by the Leach Relay Company of San Francisco. This is a "Speedoplex No. 2" with a couple of differences from the usual model: the damper style (hinged at the back), and the transverse nameplate holes (most with plates are longitudinal). The glossy finish is in very good condition for a c. 1930 bug, with a few small chips. The knob is chipped, and the broken paddle was repaired with epoxy. No plate, one weight. Another view.
Also see the last page of this flyer.
$245.00.


#L806TRG Leach "Speedoplex" bug.

Bug made by the Leach Relay Company of San Francisco. This is a "Speedoplex No. 2" made c. 1930 with a few differences from the usual No. 2: the damper style (hinged at the back), and the transverse nameplate holes (most with plates are longitudinal), and the double paddles (yes, they are original Leach paddles). The base finish resembles the scarce "leatherette" finish found on some Vibroplex bugs from around 1920. Oddly, the weights and their screws are unplated (though apparently original items). Complete except for nameplate. Second view. Third view.
Also see the last page of this flyer.
$295.00.


#904LTY Go-Devil bug.

This is the scarce 1930s Go-Devil bug, by A.H. Emery of Poughkeepsie, New York. This one is original and appears to be complete, but is sold "as shown" since I could never get one of these to work properly and I consider them to be collectible "display shelf" keys. Second photo.
$495.00. (S&H = $12.00 UPS)


#443CGYY Bunnell Gold Bug.

Here is an unusual, scarce and collectible bug. This has a single lever with adjustable swivel, and a single contact for dots and dashes. It wasn't very successful when produced in the late 1920's for the simple reason that it didn't work very well. The paddle on this one is not original (although it is the correct shape), and the key would benefit from cleaning and polishing. Second photo.)
$695.00 (S&H = $12.00)


#508BGY Mon-Key electronic keyer.

The Mon-Key vacuum tube keyer with built-in paddle was manufactured by the Electric Eye Equipment Company of Illinois. It was initially advertised in 1948, thereby becoming the first electronic keyer offered to hams. It is built on a thick Bakelite base, and has a cast aluminum cover. Overall it measures 11" long and 4-1/2" deep.
This particular unit is complete including the tubes, but untested (I believe the AC cord is a resistance cord, and there is no transformer in the power supply, and that the key terminals under the plastic cover are hot with AC, so be careful when testing and using.) The clear plastic key cover is in very good condition (most have cracks around the screw, this one does not) and it has the original knob and paddle. It even has remnants of the rare decal on the side (see photo). Display a piece of history on your shelf!
Another view. ... Decal. ... Inside.
$245.00 (S&H = $15.)


#098BLL oval base telephone.

This is the pretty art deco oval-base telephone desk set by Western Electric. This is the model 202, and was produced from 1930 to 1938. It has the D1 base and E1 handset.

This phone is in excellent original cosmetic condition. I do not have the ringer box, so could not test it.

Photo 2.
Photo 3.
Bottom.

SOLD


#099TYY Autronic keyer paddle.

This paddle was produced by Electrophysics Corp from 1960 to 1970. See July 1960 QST, page 47, and U.S. patent 3,098,896. It is a single-lever paddle (non-iambic) with a heavy cast base and an unusual bent lever design. Cast-base paddles are uncommon, and this may be the only make with its name cast in.

There are minor variations of the Autronic: The cast address, Newport Beach, 1960 - 65, and Cost Mesa, 1965 - 1970; knurled lock nuts (1960 - 1963) and conical lock nuts (1963 - 1970). I have also found a Costa Mesa key with a black base finish rather than the usual gray finish. The paddle shown here is a "later early" (1963 - 65) model: It has the early Newport Beach address and the later conical jam nuts.

This is in good condition with a cord and small plug. There is a small discolored area on top, near the "C" in the name, and some chipping of the finish on the bottom; see the photos. I will include with this key a vintage copy of The Vail Correspondent #7 (April 1994) which has a five page article on this key, including patent drawings.

Second photo.
Bottom view.
$149.00 (S&H = $12.00)


#TWX33 ... Model 33.

For sale is a Western Union TWX model 33 teletypewriter (this unit has a keyboard and tape perforator). It is complete, original, and in excellent cosmetic condition, with manuals and a spares kit. I have not used or tested it. Photos on request.

$1,200. -- pick up in Stow Mass.


#TWXTAPE ... Model 33 perforator tape.

This paper tape is made by or for Western Union for the TWX model 33 data terminal; may fit other teletype machines. This is a NOS unused roll of 1" width oiled paper tape, with 2" core diameter and 8" maximum diameter of roll, approximately 1,000 feet per roll.

$10.00 per roll (we have 5 rolls available). Email quantity desired and your zip code and I will let you know the shipping charge.


Wanted by Tom French, McElroy telegraph apparatus. Will purchase for cash or trade.
1934 McElroy bug (first model)
An early (1934 - 36) left-handed McElroy bug (cast as left handed).
McElroy Junior model (sheet metal bug).
McElroy code oscillator with two tubes and a light bulb ballast.
To upgrade my collection, any instrument in excellent to mint condition, especially in the original box and with papers.

Artifax Books carries technical and reference books on keys, telegraphy, wireless radio and more.

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