Artifax Books

151 Barton Road, Stow MA 01775 USA

Landline and Railroad Telegraph Instruments For Sale

This page includes sounders, combination sets, relays, switchboards, callboxes, etc.
Keys (hand keys, bugs) will be found on other pages of this website.

You will find many "sold" items below ... when I sell an item I may leave the description and photos on the page as a reference for collectors. I hope this information helps you in identifying the telegraph instruments you find. Information and photos for any of the items may be used by others for non-commercial collector information; credit to Tom W1IMQ would be appreciated.

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

This page updated September 2015


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. Our email address is

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


All items have a shipping charge, which in most cases runs from $8.00 for a straight key to $12.00 for a heavy KOB set. Sounders will usually be about $9 - $10 ... Special items will usually have their S&H stated but if no shipping charge is shown I will confirm the charge when you inquire about availability of the item.

Shipping costs are not cumulative. If you are interested in different items, I will try to combine shipping to keep the total down. Some small items will often ship with a large item 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 including knobs with a book may (due to the weight) mean the package must go by priority mail.

Instruments and apparatus on this page are listed as follows:
-- Parts
-- Key-on-base (KOB) combination sets
-- Sounders, repeaters, transmitters
-- Relays
-- Call boxes and Gill selectors
-- Switchboards and lightning arresters
-- Resonators
-- Railroad apparatus and instruments (other than above) jack boxes etc
-- Insulators
-- Miscellaneous (meters, signs, registers, typewriters, etc)


Most instruments shown here have been electrically are tested and are guaranteed to work if used at the recommended voltage. A few instruments may not have passed my brief electrical check and if so are offered "as is" at a reduced price. I do not clean them, since some users will prefer the patina of age, while others will want to polish the brass and wood. I leave the choice to the buyer.

On most photos, you can click on the small photo for a larger version (as well as clicking on the links to the second, third photos etc).


KOB sets, so called, (meaning "key on base," don't ask me why) consist of a key and a sounder on a common base, wired in series. See this page for information on using a sounder.

Electrically, there are two basic types of KOB sets: Professional sets (i.e. those which might have been used by a telegraph operator) and practice sets. Professional sets will have a high resistance (e.g. 150 ohms, though sometimes as low as 20 ohms) and two wire terminals. Practice sets will be of low resistance (e.g. 4 ohms); they may have two or three wire terminals. Regardless of the resistance, those with three terminals are always practice sets.

Regardless of whether a KOB set is "professonal" or "practice," either type may be used for practice, with the proper voltage batteries, and either two-terminal set would look authentic in a telegraph system display.

#815CHR pair of matched KOB sets.
#815COP, 815BOP individual units

Here is a pair of matched KOB sets -- they are stamped 20 ohms but have no name on them. They closely resemble the Signal Electric "Junior" model (no resonator plate under sounder) but they are two-terminal KOBs (which I actually prefer -- I never use the center terminal on the SEMCO sets).

One of these (815BOP) works well on 3 to 6 volts DC.
The other one (815COP) needs the sounder wires connected (if you are looking for a little weekend project, here it is -- it will likely require removing the coils to unwrap a little extra wire).

The photos below show #815COP but as I said they are otherwise identical.
Front view.
Rear view.


#615COG Homemade Bunnell KOB set.

This Bunnell Morse set is composed of a 1-A sounder and a "S" steel lever key. Marked on the sounder resonator plate is PAT. MAY 7, 1895, on the lever is the Bunnell name, and on its wood base is stamped W.U.TEL.CO., SOUNDER-1.A., and 4 OHMS. The key appears to be cad plated, except for the main lever which is chrome plated; stamped on the lever is BUNNELL S.

The instruments are in the the nicest condition I have seen for these models. The set (i.e. sounder) is tested and works well on 1.5 to 3 volts DC.

Because this is a home-made combination, I would sell the instruments separately, see below.

Back view.

$145.00 (S&H=$12.00)
Key only $69.00 (S&H=$8.00)
Sounder only $79.00 (S&H=$9.95)

#1214XJMKOB Bunnell KOB set.

This Bunnell Morse set is marked on the sounder lever and the key frame with the maker's name, "J.H. Bunnell & Co., New York." The sounder resonator plate is stamped (faintly) "patented Feb. 16, 1875" while the key lever is stamped "patented Feb. 15, 1881."

This set has the early push-spring sounder, the first one I have ever found on a KOB. The 7-1/2 x 4-3/4 inch wood base carries the Bunnell metal bow-tie nameplate (the resistance of the set is not stamped on the plate). It has early wire terminals.

There are a few areas of patina on the brass, and the steel lever of the key has surface rust where it is missing some plating. Overall you will not find a nicer early style Bunnell KOB. I tested this on 6 VDC (four flashlight D cells in series) and it works well.

Front view.
Back view.
Sounder date.
Key date.

$245.00 SOLD

#515CGT Bunnell KOB set.

As above, but with no dates on the sounder or key. The sounder would be 1875, whicle the key would be 1881.

Again, this set has the early push-spring sounder and steel-lever key on the 7-1/2 x 4-3/4 inch wood base. The base carries the Bunnell metal bow-tie nameplate with the 20 ohm resistance of the set stamped on the plate. It has the early wire terminals, and a brass sounder plate.

The coils are good; I operated the sounder by applying voltage (3.5 to 6 volts) to its leads. This set is very heavily patinated, and all wiring connections and key contacts need cleaning for proper electrical operation. The wood base should be cleaned and polished. One coil cover is damaged, and the upper sounder stop is slightly bent although it works as shown.

With the push-spring sounder, this is a rare model, and a nice cleaning project for the collector/restorer.

Push spring.
Sounder lever stop.


SEMCO KOB Prices jr 119 sr steel 129 sr brass 139 -->

Signal Electric learner sets

These are a fine KOB set for display, or for learning American Morse code, either singly or in pairs. Historically, the Menomonee Electric Company was renamed Signal Electric Manufacturing Company in 1919. One of its products was the "learner set," a key-and-sounder combination KOB set, available into the 1950s in five models:
Sr. set, with brass resonator sounding plate: M-108 4 ohms, M-100 20 ohms
Sr. set, with steel resonator sounding plate, M-110 4 ohms, M-111 20 ohms (only this set was available from the 1940s onward)
Jr. set, no resonator plate under sounder, M-112 4 ohms, M-113 20 ohms.

The sounder lever is aluminum, the key lever (on later models) is nickel plated, and the wood base is mahogany. Note that despite the diagram on the bottom of the later sets, when running pairs the center terminals should not be connected if feedback for the sending operator is desired (i.e. the sending operator's sounder operates just as the receiving operator's does).

Four ohm sets work on 1.5 to 3 VDC (a flashlight D cell works well); 20 ohm sets (not yet tested). Be sure to keep the key circuit closer switch open if using batteries, otherwise they will drain down rapidly when the set is not in use.

#515DOP Signal Electric M-110 KOB set.

This is a 4 ohm model M-110 (steel plate) Morse learner's outfit made by Signal Electric Manufacturing Company, stamped on the sounder lever. The wood base measures 4-1/2" x 7". Cosmetically there is some oxidation on the black key and sounder parts, and a worn area in the finish of the base at left front.

I tested this set, and it works well on 1.5 to 3 volts DC.

There is a wiring diagram on the bottom. This set was mis-wired at the factory; I had to add a wire to correct that.

Sounder Lever.
Back view.


#715BGO Signal Electric M-110 KOB set.

This is a 4 ohm model M-110 (steel plate) Morse learner's outfit made by Signal Electric Manufacturing Company, stamped on the sounder lever. The wood base measures 4-1/2" x 7". Cosmetically it shows its age, see the photos.

I tested this set on 6 VDC and it works well. There is a wiring diagram on the bottom.

Name on lever.
Back view.


#615BLA Signal Electric M-110 KOB set.

This is a 4 ohm model M-110 (steel plate) Morse learner's outfit made by Signal Electric Manufacturing Company, stamped on the sounder lever. The wood base measures 4-1/2" x 7". It is probably an early M-110, there is no diagram on the bottom, the coil covers are old-style cloth (note tear), and the key lever is paint-finished. The knob on the key is a replacement.

I tested this set and it works well on 3 volts DC, however you will want to clean the wire terminals and key contacts to ensure good operation.

Front view.


#615COP Signal Electric M-112 KOB set.

This is a 4 ohm model M-112 Jr. Morse learner's outfit (no sounder plate) made by Signal Electric Manufacturing Company. It is stamped "SIGNAL" on the sounder lever, there is no diagram on the bottom, and it probably dates to the 1920s. The wood base measures 4-3/8" x 7". This set works well on 1.5 to 3 volts DC. A nice early version for your collection.

Another view.
Back view.


#SEMCOCAT Signal Electric booklet.

August 1941 Signal Electric booklet, about 5-1/2 x 7-1/4 inches, 32 pages. Includes fundamentals of wireless and telegraphy, and 6 page catalog at back. Complete, text clean, small smudge on cover (center right), corners curled.


$19.00 ppd in USA

#115COH MESCO KOB set.

This is a 5 ohm Morse learner's outfit made by Manhattan Electrical Supply Company. It is stamped MESCO on the sounder lever and the key frame, and "5 OHMS" on the bottom of the 4-1/2" x 7" wood base.

I tested this set, and it works well on 3 volts DC (I used two common flashlight D cells in series). This set is in very good original condition, and would really sparkle with a cleaning of the base and polishing of the brass sounder and key.

Back view.
Top view.

$149.00 SOLD

NOTE RE BATTERIES AND HOLDERS: Radio Shack carries holders with wire leads for one, two or four D cells (the common size cell used in a regular flashlight). The multiple cell holders have the cells series-wired. Since each cell provides 1-1/2 volts, these would be good to provide 1.5, 3 or 6 volts for your sounder or KOB set. For a longer life six volt source, a lantern battery can be used. Of course, a small variable voltage DC output power supply would be ideal to swap between instruments requiring different voltages.

#214KTG Bunnell KOB set.

This Morse learner's outfit dates to the early 1900s. It is marked on the sounder lever with the maker's name, J.H. Bunnell & Co., New York USA. The 7-1/2 x 5 inch wood base is stamped "5 ohms."

One paper coil wrap is missing, and the key knob is a replacement. This is tested and works well on 3 volts DC.

Another view.


#1105LYY Tillotson private line set.

Private line sets were used in homes and offices in the 19th century. Suitable in design for their environment, they have a fancy, cast iron base and elegant design. All are scarce. The one offered here is marked "L.G. Tillotson & Co., New York" and dates from about 1870. Note the heavy brass straight lever on the key, and the unusual sounder construction. The cols have Bakelite covers.

One screw holding the stop standard to the left side of the sounder appears to be a replacement. There is some paint loss and light surface rust at the left side and back edge, but the name and most of the fancy decoration remains intact. This is a beautiful display piece ("an office credenza item," as one collector has said of such instruments). Tested and works (use 3 to 6 volts).

Another view.


#0110LEY Bunnell lineman's set in case.
These pocket sets are scarce - and it's rare to find one in its original carrying case. This has the Bunnell name on it; in its 1915 catalog they referred to it as a "pocket relay." This was offered with either 150 or 250 ohm coils (this one is 150 ohms, and the coils test good).

There is a nut missing underneath on the lever spring cup screw (brass nuts are available at your hardware store). The case latch works; the covering is showing its age and the previous owner apparently made a hole in one end of the case for the wires so he wouldn't have to remove the set from the case while using it.

Another view.
out of box.
Fourth view.
Back of case

$695.00 (S&H=$12.00)

#208OGR Bunnell miniature KOB.
Several years ago the Bunnell Company produced a limited edition of its "centennial issue" miniature telegraph keys, sounders and KOBs. They were a reproduction of its miniature instruments made in the early 1900s.

Here is one of the little KOB sets. The base measures just 1-1/8 x 2-1/2 inches. This is a real working instrument. The sounder is 150 ohms, and works on 9 volts maximum (I tested this on on 6 volts, which I recommend). Its two-digit serial number can be seen on the sounder (the key SN is on the bottom of the key).

This comes complete with its original velvet pouch, certificate of authenticity, and information sheet. Another view.


#904TRO P.O. & G. Co. lineman's set. This is commonly called a lineman's pocket set. This instrument is marked Western Electric Co. on the key lever. The cover, coil and knob are stamped PO&GCo which is said to be Prairie Oil and Gas Co. which was under that name from 1900 to 1927, then it became Sinclair Oil. They leased 2 lines from the Santa Fe Ry. in Oklahoma. I aquired this set out of California.

Pocket sets such as these date from the late 1800s to the early 1900s; they are scarce and a fine addition to any telegraph collection. This one is especially interesting with the PO&G provenance. This is in good condition: the coils are good and there is only one tiny chip in the cover edge (photo 3). The sounder return spring is missing, and the small screw that holds the key gap anvil is missing; both parts are hardware store items.

Second photo.
Third photo.


#209TOR Partrick and Carter KOB set.

An early, rare and highly collectible key/sounder combination set on a wood base. Most parts of the key and the sounder are cast iron. The circuit closer on the step-lever key is stamped with the maker's name. Decoratively painted on the base of the horizontal-spring sounder is the 1875 patent date (hard to read).

The sounder spring and tension screw were missing; what you see is my jury-rigged replacement. (A long, thin light spring -- as from an old typewriter -- would be a better replacement.) The two wire terminals are a different style from the usual P&C terminals I have seen so may be vintage replacements. There is a crack in the wood base (you can see it in the photos) but it is tight (perhaps an old repair). Finally one coil wire is overly long (shown), you may wish to dress it for appearance.

This is offered as shown. Tested and working on 3 - 4 volts DC. Despite its minor issues it would be an impressive instrument for your working landline display.

The key.
Name on circuit closer.
Decoration on sounder.


#1004BOR ... Vintage Bunnell KOB base

This is the wood base from a Bunnell KOB set which had a key and a Barclay type sounder -- similar to this one.

This base includes the wire terminals and the brass name tag. The base measures about 9-3/4 x 4-5/8 inches. It is in good condition with no chips, splits or cracks. You may want to refinish the top or leave the beautiful aged patina.

This is a nice spare part for the restorer or collector of antique railroad telegraph instruments.

Bottom view.

$24.00 (S&H=$7.00)

#913CBG ... Early C. Williams Jr. KOB base

This is an original wood base for a Charles Williams Jr. KOB set. It is 5-1/2 x 7-1/2 inches and includes the brass cone feet on the bottom. This base is for the early Williams KOB set with the camelback key, like this one.

A little history: The electrical shop of Charles Williams Jr. was at 109 Court Street in Boston, beginning in 1856. It was in the attic of his shop that Bell, with the help of Williams' mechanic Thomas Watson, created the first practical telephone.

This base is in very good used condition, with no chips, splits or cracks, although the top does need refinishing. If you have an early Williams KOB like the one referenced but with a bad base, here is an original which has much more value than a home-made reproduction.

Another view.
Bottom view.

$89.00 (S&H=$7.00)

Warning: On box relays such as those below, there is a large adjusting nut on the box which moves the magnets closer to, or away from, the relay armature. Backing this nut out should allow the magnets to move closer to the armature (and turning it in should move the magnet poles away from the armature). But if this nut has become stiff or stuck on the adjusting screw, backing it out might cause the adjusting screw itself to turn counter-clockwise and unscrew from the magnet assembly inside the box. This would cause the magnet assembly to fall inside the box, and you would have to dis-assemble the box to repair it.

You will not have a problem if you pay attention and are careful. But if this happens to your box relay, open it up and re-attach the magnet assembly to the screw. Here's how: Remove the far ends of the three wires which come out of the box from the base (you may have to remove two wire terminals to do this). Straighten the three wires perpendicular to the base. Below the box, remove two machine screws (which fasten the adjusting screw holder) and two small wood screws (which hold the box to the base).

The box is now loose; push the three wires up through their base holes as you raise the box from the base, being careful not to disconnect two of the three heavy wires from the fine magnet wires they connect to. Now repair: Loosen the adjusting nut on the screw and apply a drop of oil to it (Kriol recommended). Put the adjusting screw pressure spring back on, and when you re-attach the adjusting screw to the magnet assembly, use a drop of Loktite. Reverse the procedure to re-assemble. (These details pertain to most Bunnell box relays; yours may be slightly different.)

We do not accept return of box relays or Barclay sounders which have been mis-adjusted by the purchaser to cause the magnet assembly to separate from the adjusting screw.

Barclay sounder warning: Since the adjustment on a Barclay sounder is similar to that of box relays, the warning given above for box relays should be observed for Barclay sounders.

#RAT108 Bunnell Barclay KOB.

Here is a Bunnell Barclay KOB set worthy of a little clean-up and restoration. The key is marked Bunnell, and there is a metal Bunnell name tag on the base marked with the coil resistance (150 ohms). The key is missing the circuit closing lever and a small nail is missing from one side of the name tag. The sounder spring should be replaced. The coils are good, tested and working (6 volts).
Third photo.
$250.00 (S&H=$13.00)

SOUNDERS, repeaters, and transmitters

Read this page for information on using a sounder.

Which sounder to choose?
If you want a simple sounder to complete a landline operating station or railroad depot telegrapher's desk, the later or more modern styles such as a Western Electric 3-C will be lower priced -- you might select one based on its operating voltage (most are 3 to 6 volts DC and will run on 2 or 4 flashlight D cells).

Or you may select one based on its age or design: Sounders with older type wire terminals or spring designs (for example, the Bunnell 1975 push-spring sounders) will increase in price, as will those with unusual lever adjustment mechanisms, such as the Western Electric 15-B lever adjuster, the W.E. 17-A crank adjuster, and especially the Bunnell 15-C or Manhattan Giant double-knob adjusters (those who collect unusual sonders would be most interested in these).

Sounders vary in size; the top of the lever pivot arch might be about 3 to 3-1/4 inches from the table on a regular-sized sounder (Western Electric 3-C), up to to 4 inches on Western Electric 15-B. While commercial and railroad telegraph operators had no concern (indeed, since the company did the choosing, they had no choice) in the sounder used, you may decide that one large impressive sounder is more interesting for your installation.

Finally, if you are creating a static display, email me. Although I don't usually stock them I may be able to supply a non-working sounder at a lower price.

#515BEG Bayly Main Line Sounder.

This sounder is stamped on the side of the wood base BAYLY ENGINEERING LTD. MODEL L-150 (click on the main photo and it may be seen). This was made by the company founded in 1946 by Pat Bayly, Canadian engineer and inventor (and a hero of WWII).

At 150 ohms as stated on the base (I measured 155), it is a main line sounder. It has brass coil covers and is otherwise typical of many other sounders but has an interesting through-pin pivot for the lever which eliminates trunion binding.

The upper lever stop screw is very slightly cocked, which binds the threads somewhat, but it is adjusted correctely and works well. This is tested and works on 5 to 7 volts DC (best on 6 volts: four series D cells, one 6 VDC lantern battery, or a small variable DC supply).

This is the only Bayly sounder I have ever seen. If you are interested in the history of Bayly, or of the town of Ajax, on the shore of Lake Ontario, Canada, this would be a scarce addition to your collection.

Another view.
Upper stop screw.

$79.00 (S&H = $9.85)

#715BTO Nye 5 ohm sounder.

This is from the long line of Speed-X instruments... Speed-X is an old name in telegraph keys -- it began with bugs from Electro Manufacturing in the early 1930s, ran through Stewart Johnson, Les Logan, to the E.F. Johnson company (known for its Viking line of amateur radio equipment) which added sounders to its line of keys. Finally it went to Nye (known as Nye Viking) in 1972.

The Wm. N. Nye Co. was founded by William Nye in Bellevue, Washington. He retired in 1986 and presumably that's when it moved to Priest River, Idaho, where Bill Nye, Jr. (WB7TNN) and his wife Sally operate the company. Today Nye makes only straight keys for amateurs, and the Speed-X name is no longer used.

This is one of the Bellevuew sounders. It is 5 ohms, and has a steel resonator plate. It works on 1.5 to 6 volts, though 3 volts seems best. A nice instrument or collectible for those who useor collect the Speed-X or Viking items.

name on lever.
another view.

$59.00 (S&H = $9.85)

#615CEA Bunnell 4 ohm sounder.

This sounder is marked as to maker Bunnell on the lever, and stamped in the woodbase as to the user WUTELCO (Western Union Telegraph Company). The coils are 4 ohms, so it is a "local" sounder. The lever-down stop screw is a replacement. The coil covers are in good condition but a bit loose.

This is rather dirty but does work as shown (the low price reflects its condition). Use 3 to 6 volts DC

4 ohms.
coil cover.

$59.00 (S&H = $9.85)

#208CEH gear-adjustment Bunnell sounder.

This sounder is marked made by J.H. Bunnell, New York. The wood base measures about 5-1/2 x 3 inches and is stamped 150 (ohms). It is a main line sounder for use directly in a Morse railroad or WU land line. The major parts are brass, the coil covers appear to be Bakelite.

It has an unusual gear-drive adjustment for the coils. The coils do not move... the gear drive slides the iron armature which is under the coils in and out, this varys the magnetic flux to the main lever armature. As the rack is moved, the movement of the lower sliding armature can just be seen in the 4th and 5th photos.

This is tested and works well on 4 to 6 volts DC. A scarce addition to your sounder collection.

Another view.
Name on lever.
Rack out.
Rack in.


#1214XJM-SNDR3 ... Bunnell Postal Telegraph sounder.

This sounder is marked on the lever as made by J.H. Bunnell, New York. It is all brass (except of course for the wood base and the iron armature over the coils), and is large -- about 3-3/4 inches from tabletop to the top of the anvil stop standard. The wood base is stamped POSTAL TEL CO. It is complete with all original parts.

This is a 4 ohm sounder, so it would have been used in a "local circuit," not on the main line. I tested this on a single 1.5 volt AA battery and it works well.

This is in very good condition as seen in the photos. It needs only a light cleaning to be an excellent addition to your W.U. or railroad depot telegraph operator's desk or your Postal Telegraph collection. It would also be great to use in a Morse Code practice circuit with a key and a D cell.

Another view.
Postal name on base.


#B806CEA Bunnell sounder.

This is an early aluminum lever sounder made by Bunnell (and so stamped on the lever). It has an aluminum resonator plate under the wood base, and eraly-style wire terminals. There is a chip in one of the coil covers as seen in the photo.

The heavy patina on the metal parts makes this sounder a good choice for public display of an early system. This has been tested and works well on 4 - 6 volts DC, although you may have to clean the underside of the terminal thumbnuts a little for a good connection.

$74.00 (S&H = #9.85

#715BTP Western Electric chromed sounder.

An unusual chrome-plated sounder. This is the nicest-looking Western Electric sounder in my inventory. It is stamped 12521 on the bottom, and has an unusual spring-adjustment extension atop the lever pivot arch (compare the W.O. Smith 1883 patent #288881 (discussed below). This sounder was tested and works well on 1.5 to 6 volts DC.



#1212CEY Western Union 1-A / Bunnell sounder.

Made by the J.H. Bunnell Company, this has the Western Union nameplate identifying it as a type 1-A sounder. The resonator plate shows the May 17 1895 patent date. It has been through the WU New York Repair Shop and came out with the usual black painted wood base, cadmium plated brass parts, and NYRS stamp on the bottom.

Tested on 3 VDC.


Western Union 1-B sounders:

The Western Union model 1-B sounder is interesting in that the coil wires are brought out to separate terminals: There are four terminals on the wood base. The nameplate describes it as 400 ohms; that is true if the 200 ohm coils are wired in series. They can also be wired in parallel to create a 100 ohm sounder. It is most common to find the 1-B with the coils wired in parallel.

#548-400-OHMS Western Union 1-B / Bunnell sounder.

The metal nameplate is stamped 1B-400 and the aluminum lever is stamped with the Bunnell name. It has the typical Western Union black painted wood base and cadmium plated brass parts. This is in excellent condition. I wired the coils in parallel (100 ohms); it works fine on 4 to 6 volts DC.


Western Electric 3B and 3C Sounders

The Western Electric 3B and 3C are typical size sounders (3-1/4" high to the top of the lever pivot arch), and have the usual screw-and-ocknut adjustments for both positions of the lever. This simple design, used on most sounders made since the 1870s, makes them a good choice to represent a sounder of almost any era. The 3B is a 20 ohm sounder and works on 3 volts to 6 VDC (as with all sounders, it is best to use the lowest voltage where the sounder still works well); the 3C is a 140 ohm (main line) sounder and works best on 6 volts DC.

1213BTH Western Electric 3B sounder. Click on photo for a larger view.

This 20 ohm sounder is in excellent, probably unused, condition. Tested and works fine (3-6 volts DC).



915CEH 3B sounder. Click on photo for a larger view.

This 20 ohm sounder has no maker's name on it (though it has a K in a square logo). It is in very good condition, and has been tested and works well on 3-6 volts DC.


#509CEE NOS Western Electric 3C sounder. Click on photo for a larger view.

This is a 140 ohm main line sounder in excellent, unused (new old stock) condition. It is rare to find any sounder in this condition. Tested and works fine (6 volts DC, 45 ma).
Another view


Western Union 15-B main line sounders:

The 15-B is one of the "standard" Western Union main line sounders. It is a large sounder that has the armature (lever cross-bar) and coil pole pieces oriented at an angle. There is no downward stop screw on the main lever; the adjuster lever on the resonator plate moves the coils in and out horizontally and provides a convenient adjustment for the spacing of the bar and pole pieces. Bunnell described the gap adjustment as "instant magnetic gap adjustment by means of an easily operated lever which moves coil assembly in a horizontal plane." The base is wood and the the metal parts (except for the spring and magnetic circuit components) are brass.

The 15-B came in different resistances and, since the higher resistance units operated at lower current, it was preferable to use those whenever the nature of the line or circuit permitted. A 1929 Western Union booklet describes the 120 ohm sounder as having a normal operating current of 40 ma, and the 30 ohm sounder requiring 70 ma. Many of these WUTCO sounders were made by Western Electric.

Other companies also made the 15-B, such as Bunnell and Foote-Pierson, and their specifications may vary. For example, Bunnell offered three different 15-B sounders; a 1950s Bunnell catalog described them as: 150 ohms, 40 ma; 120 ohms, 45 ma; and 30 ohms, 90 ma.

Using batteries or a DC power supply, you would power these (and any other sounders) with the voltage that would properly operate the unit. For example, the Western Electric 120 ohm sounder should operate fine on a voltage of IxR or 0.040 x 120 = 4.8 volts (nominal 5 volts). I have found that typical 120 ohm units operate best at 5 to 6 volts (depending, of course, on the adjustments of the pivots, spring tension and magnetic gap).

I have found that most W.E. 30 ohm sounders, stated to work at 70 ma (2.1 volts), work better at a higher voltage, and in fact work well at 3 to 6 volts. As with all sounders, use yours on the lowest voltage that allows it to operate well. However, if you don't have an adjustable power supply, the use of 2 D cells in series, or a 6 volt lantern battery, is usually convenient for a 120 ohm main line sounder.

The bottom of the 15-B sounder has a wooden mounting spacer or "donut" at the screw hole on each end of the wood base, and two pointed brass feet at the wire terminal end. Due to shrinkage of the wood, one or both of the donuts are often missing, but this does not affect the mounting or operation of the sounder.

The coil covers are painted brass. You will occasionally find one with polished brass covers, undoubtedly done by someone during a restoration process. While not period-correct, it does make the sounder an impressive display piece.

#1000BCB Bunnell 15-B 120 ohm sounder.

This main line sounder was made by (and marked on the lever) J.H. Bunnell. The resonator plate is marked "Patented in U.S.A. March 6 1917." The top of the wood base is stamped "W.U. TEL. CO. main line sounder 15-B 120 ohms."

The bottom of the wood base carries a Western Union inspection stamp (as well as a the stamp of a previous owner, who may have rewired the terminals and varnished the base). The wood "donuts" are missing, and three small black feet have been added. This sounder was tested and works well on 6 volts.

Resonator plate patent stamp.


#1212BBC Bunnell 15-B 150 ohm sounder.

This main line sounder was made by (and marked on the lever) J.H. Bunnell. The coil covers are painted brass (this makes it a good candidate for stripping and polishing if you are so inclined). This is in very nice original condition. Tested on 6 VDC.

$79.00 (S&H = $12.00)

#114BLY Western Electric 15-B 30 ohm sounder. (NOTE using photo of #1212BBC here...)

Marked on the lever Western Electric, and stamped 30 ohms on the wood base. This has been through the WU New York Repair Shop (NYRS) and like all keys and sounders that come out of the shop, the base is painted black and the brass parts have a cadmium plating. However the base finish is worn and chipped, and the cad plating is oxidized. Nevertheless it works is tested and works well on 6 volts DC.

$69.00 (S&H = $12.00)

#1012CLT Western Electric 15-B 120 ohm sounder.

Marked on the lever Western Electric, and Western Union on the metal 15-B nameplate. The coil covers are brass. Another NYRS sounder with the stamp on the bottom, though it appears that a previous owner has polished most of the cad plating off of the brass parts.

It is missing one of the wood mounting "donuts" on the bottom, but this does not affect operation or even the actual mounting. Tested on 6 volts and works well.

$85.00 (S&H = $12.00)

#105CRA Western Union 15-C Bunnell/Ghegan sounder. Click on photo for a larger view.

One of the largest, and perhaps the most complex, of the sounders is this rare model MCM type sounder (as Bunnell called it). Stamped on the side of the wood base is "100 ohm main line sounder 15C" and stamped near the wire terminals is "WUTELCO." Stamped into the brass plate is "Ghegan patent, July 16 1901." The Bunnell name is stamped on the lever.

On this design, one of the adjustment knobs drops the main lever at the frame, the other controls spring tension. All parts, including the lever and coil covers, are brass; only the coil armatures are steel. An interesting and scarce sounder.

Cosmetically, this shows its age. Tested and working at 50 milliamperes (6 volts).
Another view

$149.00 (S/H=$12.00)

The Western Union 17-A sounder is similar to the 15-B in that this main line sounder is found in both 120 and 30 ohm coil resistances. And like the 15-B, it has an unusual (but easy to use) gap adusting mechanism: The large knurled knob raises or lowers the coils with respect to the armature. And because the coils are moved, it has no lower lever stop screw. But unlike most other sounders, it has double resonator plates.

The 17-A is a large, heavy and impressive looking sounder: While typical local sounders weigh about 1-1/4 pounds and stand 3-1/2" high, the huge 17-A sounder weighs almost 2-1/2 pounds and stands 4-1/2" high. Like the 15-B, it has painted brass coil covers.

Any we have are listed below.

#612COE Western Union 17-A sounder. Click on photo for a larger view.

This large sounder was made by Hardwick Hindle Inc. as stamped on the lever; this maker is not commonly found. The wood base is stamped "WU TEL CO, main line sounder 17-A, 120 ohms." The wood base is black and the metal parts appear to be cad plated, suggesting it went through the WU New York Repair Shop, though it is not so stamped. Tested at 6 volts.

Another view

$119.00 (S/H=$12.00)

#715FEG another 17-A sounder, the metal nameplate on black wood base reads W.U.TEL.CO., M.L. SOUNDER 17-A 30 OHMS. The maker's name J.H. BUNNELL is stamped on the lever. Heavy patina on the brass parts. Tested at 6 VDC, the terminal screws need cleaning for good continuity. $119.00

Bunnell 1875 Sounders

These are relatively small sounders -- the wood base measures about 3 x 5-1/2 inches. The brass resonator plate is stamped "patented Feb. 16, 1875" and the brass lever is stamped "J.H. Bunnell, New York." They have the early "push-spring" lever mechanism, a curved pivot frame, and early style wire terminals. An 1875 sounder is an economical substitute for an earlier (and rare) Civil War era sounder.

#205BLE Postal / Bunnell 1875 sounder. Click on photo for a larger view.

This 1875 sounder has large Postal wire terminals and the wood base is stamped "property of Postal Tel Co" (some letters missing due to a chip in the base). It shows age and use; both lever stop screws were missing and I put in the replacements. Seems to be about 10 ohms. Tested and working at 3 volts.
Another view

$85.00 (S/H=$8.00)

Bunnell 1895 Sounders

A more "modern" style sounder (relatively speaking!) with the spring above the lever. The resonator plate carries a May 7, 1895 patent date (the location of fixtures on the plate is the subject of the patent). These sounders often have the the spring tension adjustment screw located on an extension of the upper frame (Nov 20 1883 patent; on later models the tension screw would be moved close to the center of the frame, and the extension removed).

#1214XJM-SNDR1 CB&Q railroad 1883/1895 sounder

This is a vintage telegraph sounder from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad (stamped CB&Q on the resonator plate). This was made by Bunnell and is stamped with two of its patent dates:
patent 288881 Nov 20 1883 W.O. Smith -- This patent has to do with the extension or "arm" at the top of the pivot frame, which "gives practicability to placing the [armature tension-spring] screw at a suitable distance in the rear of the vertical plane of the fulcrum-points to secure the proper action of the tension-spring..."
patent 538816 May 7 1895 J.H. Bunnell -- This patent has to do with the placement and positioning of the anvil, pivot support and coils on the resonator plate so as to avoid any damping of vibrations of the anvil and resonator and thereby increase the volume of sound created.

This sounder has the later Western Electric no. 37A wire terminals. The armature lever and the anvil are both stamped "16" which may be a CB&Q depot inventory number. The wood base is stamped "4 ohms" between the wire terminals, and so would have been used in a local circuit in the depot. I tested this on 6 volts DC (four flashlight D batteries in series) and it works well.

Bunnell sounders with both patent dates are scarce, and it is rare to find one with railroad markings. This would be a nice addition to your RR museum display as is, and would really sparkle with a bit of cleaning and polishing.

Another view.
Resonator plate stamps.
Pivot frame patent stamp.
Anvil and armature stamps.


#1013BTY Bunnell 1895 sounder

A nice sounder with the old-style wire terminals, this retains most of the original descriptive paper on the bottom of the base. Works well on 3 volts.

Bottom view.


#MAN814 Manhattan sounder

An early Manhattan Electrical Supply Company sounder with the Manhattan name in an oval stasmped on the aluminum lever. This has large, old style wire terminals. This is stamped "4 ohms" on the woodbase. The wood base was split and glued. It is quite dirty andthe brass has heavy patina. This sounder works well on 3 volts (draws 380 ma). A nice sounder for an early installation.


#908COL Manhattan giant 20 ohm sounder. Click on photo for a larger view.

A large sounder from the Manhattan Electrical Supply Company. This rare model (I have only found two in twenty years) has an unusual pivoting frame mechanism for quickly adjusting the armature gap. (It drops the main lever at the frame, somewhat like a 15-C Ghegan sounder.) This is a 20 ohm sounder with the early style wire terminals.

Very clean looking; the brass has very light patina. Tested and working; use 3 to 3-1/2 volts.
Another view
Size compared to a typical small sounder.

$139.00 (S/H=$12.00)

#508TPO Bunnell Atkinson transmitter. Click on photo for a larger view.

Bunnell describes this transmitter as the "shovel nose pattern." I understand it is a circuit-preserving transmitter used in an Atkinson single line repeater system.

This is marked with the maker's name, J.H. Bunnell, on the sounder lever. It is in beautiful new old stock condition. Tested on 6 volts and works, however the coils appear to be 4 ohms so it should normally be operated at a lower voltage.

Another view
Top view



Telegraph relays use a small spring holding the armature, connected with thread to the adjuster. If yours is missing, click here to see the hook-up.

Main line relays typically have 150 ohm coils. The coils are in the main telegraph line in series with the station key, and the contacts control the local circuit. The local circuit consists of a series loop of the relay contacts, a battery (typically a 1.5 volt gravity cell), and a low-resistance sounder.

#913COY Bunnell relay.

Early Bunnell Pattern "Standard No. 1 Relay" also referred to as a "spectacle relay" for the way the coils protrude through the frame. This large relay has a slate over cast iron base, and measures about 5 x 8-1/4 inches. This main line relay is 150 ohms, has been tested and works.

An excellent choice of style for your railroad depot operator's table. One coil cover has a large chip missing but it is turned so as not to be noticable. The spring is a replacement, otherwise this is complete and original. Needs dusting.

Another view.

$129.00 (S&H=$12.00)

#811BGT SEMCO main line relay.

Gooseneck relay (Standard No. 2 type, as adopted by Western Union and Postal Telegraph Companies), in good used condition showing some wear. The coils are tested (6 VDC, 40 ma) and working. The spring is a replacement.

$129.00 (S&H=$12.00)

#1004BLO Bunnell main line relay.

A 150 ohm "Type 2-3" relay made by J.H. Bunnell & Company of New York. The wood over iron base measures about 5 x 8 inches. The maker's name, model and relay resistance are on a metal nameplate. This has the newer style (single post) spring tensioner and screw-type wire terminals.

There is a light Navy anchor stamp on the bottom. This relay is in excellent, unused, new-old-stock condition. The coils are tested (6 VDC, 40 ma) and working.

Another view.

$149.00 (S&H=$12.00)

#1212CLA Bunnell main line relay.

A 150 ohm "Type 2-3" relay made by J.H. Bunnell & Company of New York. The wood over iron base measures about 5 x 8 inches. The maker's name, model and relay resistance are on a metal nameplate. This has the newer style (single post) spring tensioner and screw-type wire terminals.

This relay is in excellent, unused, new-old-stock condition. The operation was tested at 6 VDC and is working.


$149.00 (S&H=$12.00)


A call box (shown at right) was mounted on the wall of a business office. When the businessman wanted a Western Union (or Postal Telegraph) boy to come pick up a message to be sent by telegram, he'd turn and release the crank on his call box. This would generate a series of pulses (usually a two or three digit code).

At the telegraph office, many selectors (Gill selectors, see below) were connected to the wire. A selector is like a relay with a gear escapement matched to a certain series of pulses. The pulses received over the wire from the office call box would trip a specific Gill selector, closing a set of contacts in the selector which would light a lamp or otherwise indicate the origin of the call. The telegram boy would then know which office to go to. We occasionally have call boxes and selectors offered here.

#097CEG U.S. Electric Co. gill selector.
A scarce gill selector from the United States Electric Company, with the name and "pat Dec 15 '08" cast into the top pf the glass cover. The porcelain base measures about 3-1/2 x 6 inches. It is in excellent condition, and the coils check out with continuity. (I do not know the operating voltage.)

Top casting.


#0505CLG Western Union 6B Call Box.
Metal oval deep blue porcelain finished cover, red knob, white porcelain base. The base is about 3-1/2 x 6 inches. The mechanism was made by T.A. Edison inc. The code wheel is 5-4. Western Union inspection stamp on bottom. Very good condition, tiny white paint speckles on upper sides (will clean up), no chips. Second photo.
$120.00 (S&H = $9.00)

#C606BRT Western Union 4B Call Box.
This old-style call box has a metal oval deep blue porcelain finished cover on a large white porcelain base. It has exposed front terminals and the old-style crank knob. The base is about 3-1/2 x 6-1/2 inches. The mechanism, made by Hammarlund, has code wheel #22, and it works. The cover is in excellent condition, as is the base. Second photo.
$145. (S/H = $9.00)

#WU907BRH Western Union 4B Call Box.
This old-style call box has a metal oval deep blue porcelain finished cover on a large white porcelain base. It has exposed front terminals and the old-style crank knob. The base is about 3-1/2 x 6-1/2 inches. The mechanism, made by Hammarlund, has code wheel #115, and it works. The face of the cover is in excellent condition with "Western Union" undamaged and nicely readable, though there is a large scrape on the left side, and a couple of chips at the lower end of the base. Second photo.
$120. (S/H = $9.00)


A telegraph line is a single wire, with the earth used as the ground return. This "main line" is cut, giving two wires entering the station (commonly called the "east" and "west" lines). In a small station or office the lines might connect to a lightning arrester for station and instrument protection; in a larger office they would be connected to a switchboard (sometimes called a pegboard, or button switch). Switchboards have a lightning arrester built onto them.

At left is a lightning arrester. The east and west lines connect to the top outer terminals; note the saw-teeth on these plates, to encourage high voltage (lightning or static) to jump to the center plate, which is grounded. The local circuit (to a key and sounder, or key and relay) connects to the lower terminals. Inserting the brass peg in the bottom hole joins the lines and cuts out (bypasses) the local circuit. The top outer holes are used to ground one side of the line or the other for test purposes. The peg is put in the top center hole when not used.

At right is a single-line switchboard, with an early style disc lightning arrester. Two pegs are used to connect (or cut in) the wires to a set of instruments (relay, key, sounder). For fault testing, one peg is placed at the top of the board to ground either side of the line. A peg placed at the bottom of the board may be used to connect the line together and cut out the station (some boards require two pegs to cut out). The minimum number of pegs required for a board is two times the number of lines it handles. A diagram of a two-line board (one line might be for railroad train orders, and the other for Western Union telegrams) can be seen at this link.

Pegs: A railroad station or Western Union office might have several switchboards in use, or boards that were purchased at dfferent times from different manufacturers, and pegs may have been mixed between boards. So a board may be found with a mix of peg styles. The pegs would be of the same size and type to fit the board, but the knob style can be different. I will try to state whether the pegs for one of our boards match or not, but sometimes the difference is slight. Do not be surprised if you receive a switchboard with a slightly different variety of peg styles in it.

#111BTL Bunnell "Union" arrester.
Described in the 1915 Bunnell catalog as "Union lightning arrester and ground wire switch, serves as a peg cut-out, lightning arrester, and ground wire switch." It is a saw-tooth lightning arrester and with the single peg you can ground either side of the line to test for faults, or short the lines together which cuts out your station.

The base is 2-3/4" x 3-3/4". This scarce little arrester is in excellent condition. The peg holes are unusually small; since the original peg was missing I had to grind down a peg to fit the holes.

Another view.


#407RAT102 New Haven Clock Company / Western Union single line switchboard.

Here is one of the scarce telegraph items made by the electrical department of NHCCo during the 1880s. This is a small (3-1/2 x 4-1/4 inches) single line switchboard (pegboard). It has a plate-type lightning arrester, and cast iron foot mounting brackets. This was purchased and used by Western Union Telegraph; stamped into the wood base is WU TEL CO.

This is in very good original condition; the brass has the patina of age which you may wish to polish to match the excellent condition of the wood base. It includes four pegs, one of which does not match the others.

Name on lightning arrester plate.
WUTEL name stamped into base.


#912BPO ... Bunnell single line switchboard.

This is an early switchboard. It has the bunnell name is stamped at the top of the board, and the Sept 16 1873 patent date is at the bottom; the stamping is rather light (see photos). The board measures about 4-1/2 x 6 inches, plus the mounting legs. The early era of the board is shown by the disc "air gap" lightning arrester, and the location of the bypass peg-hole at the bottom of the board. More particularly it is shown by the use of hollow slotted pegs which connect an office line stud to a line strap; the 1873 patent for this idea was by William D. Sargent, no. 142817.

The head of one of the line screws is cocked (see photo); the spare peg does not match the other two but may be used in the bypass peg-hole. Otherwise this board is on very good condition.

Another view.
Bunnell name.
Patent date.
Hollow peg.
Another view.
Back of board.


#1008BEL Bunnell Telegraphic single line switchboard.
Items from the Bunnell Telegraphic & Electrical Co. are scarce; this company was in operation only from 1900 to 1904. And single line switchboards are uncommon. Which makes this single line swichboard with the BT&E mark rare. The wood base measures about 3-1/2 x 4-1/4 inches, has a plate-type lightning arrester, and cast iron foot mounting brackets.

This includes two pegs. It apparently was on the wall of a depot or office when the walls were repainted; the feet and sides of the base have gray paint on them. The brass is oxidized; the left runner shows some electrical burn marks; the center peg storage hole has been drilled out. It thas three different style terminals (although none are obvious replacements). A ancient and rare artifact for your depot.

Another view.
Name on lightnng arrester plate.


#208TEP Bunnell two-line telegraph switchboard.

It is rare to find a board in this condition: Here is a new old stock Bunnell two-line switchboard, with individual plate style lightning arresters on each line. The maker's identification appears on a brass plate. This board measures 7-1/2 inches high x 7 inches wide (plus the extended mounting feet).

This comes with its original cloth parts bag of two brass mounting screws and its six original cross-cut pegs. This is in new, "museum quality" condition.

Another view.


#401CPH Bunnell two-line telegraph switchboard.

This board is the same model as that above, in excellent unused condition but having a slightly darker finish. It shows a bit of scuffing on the bottom of the mounting feet; overall it is in very near new, museum quality condition. It comes with its six NOS cross-cut pegs as shown.

Another view.


#1006TTA two-line telegraph switchboard.

A nice, early two-line switchboard. The bioard measures 5-3/4 x 7-3/4 inches, plus the mounting legs. It has the disc type lightning arresters, and the single-pin bypass hole at the bottom of the line bars. There is no maker's name or railroad mark on this board, but it is marked in paint with the original telegraph line identifications (311 and 187).

The brass rivet is missing from the upper peg storage hole. Four peg storage holes have been drilled in the upper mounting bar. Otherwise this is one of the nicest vintage used two-line boards I have had.

Another view.
Disc lightning arresters.


#1214xjm-SWBD1 ... Western Electric two line switchboard.

The plate lightning arrester is stamped with the Western Electric name. A number (12571) is stamped in the back of the board. It measures about 7" wide x 7-3/4" high, plus the mounting legs.

The finish is quite dark, and the shellac shows its age: it has "shrunk." Overall this two line board is in good condition and complete with the four split pegs that were found with it.

Another view.
Third view.
Back of board.


#B806TTT Bunnell-Western Union three-line telegraph switchboard.
This is a three-line switchboard, with a plate style lightning arrester. The Bunnell name is stamped at the center of the lightning arrester plate, and "W.U.T.Co." is stamped into the wood at the upper right. The style of the local circuit wire terminals (see second photo) suggests that it is relatively early. This measures 8-3/4 inches high x 9 inches wide (plus the extended mounting feet). This comes with a full set of six cross-cut pegs with unusual tops. Good condition; there is a heavy patina on all of the brass.

Pegs and terminals.


#705TTE Bunnell four-line telegraph switchboard.

This is an early four-line switchboard with disc type lightning arresters on each line. The Bunnell name is stamped in the wood at bottom center. It is also stamped with the Hocking Valley Railroad name (1864 - 1930, Ohio). This board measures 11-1/2 inches high and 10-1/4 inches wide (plus the extended mounting feet).

This is an early board dating to the 1800s as shown by the disc arresters, single-pin cutout (bypass) at the bottoms of the line bars, and beveled edges on the board. Disc arresters use a mica insulating spacer under the disc which is perforated areound the edge, providing an air gap (there are no micas on this board).

This is complete with eight pegs (as found) and even the rivets in the spare-peg holes. Good condition for its age; it has never been cleaned, and would bebefit from a mild cleaning of the brass and wood (but do not strip it or use harsh cleansers).

Overall this is a nice, rare, early railroad-marked switchboard.

Another view.
Railroad name stamp.
Bunnell name stamp.
Disc arrester.

$395.00 (S&H=$15.00)

#1214XJM-SWBD3 Bunnell four-line telegraph switchboard.

This is a 4-line board made by J.H. Bunnell & Co. of New York (stamped on the lightning arrester plate). It was used in a CB&Q railroad station or depot, as shown by the stamp on it at bottom right (quite faint). The Dymo labels (this board was apparently used for many years, up until the modern era) identify three of the main lines. It measures about 10-3/4" wide x 10-1/2" high, plus the mounting legs.

This is in obvious used condition. There is a fire-scorched area at the top (lightning strike?). The screws are missing from the four lowest buttons (see back photo) but this does not affect its operation. The pegs do not match (typical for an old board). Three of the line terminals need penetrating oil on the screws (I did put some on).

Overall this railroad-marked switchboard is in operational condition and may be used in your depot restoration as is, showing the patina of hard work and a long life.

Bunnell name.
CB&Q stamp.
Back of board.

$345.00 (S&H=$15.00)

#B1106TRG(T) Bunnell five-line telegraph switchboard.
This is a scarce five-line switchboard, with a plate style lightning arrester. The Bunnell name is stamped at the center of the lightning arrester plate. The style of the local circuit wire terminals (see second photo) suggests that it is relatively early. This large board measures 12 inches high x 12-1/2 inches wide (plus the extended mounting feet). The wood (which appears to be hard maple) has been stripped, but not refinished (the back was left unstripped). The brass strips and terminals have been cleaned. The pegs (a full set of ten) are replacements.

Pegs and terminals.
Back side.

#508TLG Western Electric six-line telegraph switchboard.
This is a scarce six-line switchboard, with a plate style lightning arrester. Western Electric co., New York, is stamped at the center of the lightning arrester plate. This board measures about 14-1/2 inches wide X 13 inches high (plus the extended mounting feet). Note the painted N and S identifying line directions.

This is in overall good condition, see the photos. Note the paartially broken foot at top right. The pegs (a full set of twelve) are replacements.

Another view.
Another view.
$445.00 (S&H=$20.00)

#1008oyy Western Electric eight-line telegraph switchboard.
This is a rare eight-line switchboard, with a plate style lightning arrester. Western Electric co., New York, is stamped at the center of the lightning arrester plate. This board measures about 18 inches wide X 16-3/4 inches high (plus the extended mounting feet). The board has some of the lines identified by numbered nails (see photo). The pegs (a full set of sixteen) are original (as found). This board is complete and original in well-used condition.

Nails identifying lines.
Another view.
$545.00 (S&H=$30.00)

#1008ogy National Electric / Western Union ten-line telegraph switchboard.
This is a rare ten-line switchboard, with a plate style lightning arrester. Nat. Elec. Mfg. Co. 14 & 16 Vesey St., NY, is stamped at the center of the lightning arrester plate. This dates it to the late 1800s.

It was used in a Western Union office as identified by the W.U. TEL. CO. stamp in the wood at the lower right of the board. This board measures about 19-1/2 inches wide X 17-1/2 inches high (plus the extended mounting feet). The pegs (a full set of twenty) are original (as found). This board is complete and original in well-used condition.

Another view.
Another view.
$645.00 (S&H=$40.00)


Resonators, to quote an old Bunnell catalog, are "for loudening, concentrating and directing the signals of an ordinary Morse sounder to the ear of the receiving operator. Especially adapted for receiving operators using the typewriter, for noisy railroad stations, and for all situations where the sound of the instrument is subject to interference from outside noises."

There are three general shapes of resonator hoods: the early square box style (rare), the curved-back "Mascot" shape (scarce), and the more common triangular "Acme" shape. Mascot and Acme are Bunnell terms, but serve to identify similar styles used by Postal Telegraph, Pennsylvania Railroad and others.

There are two types of resonator stands: portable, which can be moved to any position on the desk within range of the cord, and adjustable, which would have the base screwed to the desk but with two or three swing arms to enable the hood to be positioned close to or away from the operator. Almost all swing arms you will find are made by, and marked, the White Company of Worcester, Massachusetts (and that city is pronounced "wiss-tuh" here in New England). The most common portable stand is the candlestick telephone type, but many interesting cast iron varieties of portable stands can be found. Some cast iron portable stands are rare and very collectible.

Since you may have a particular preference for the style of sounder to be used, or a requirement for a certain sounder resistance, most of our resonators are offered without a sounder.

#208BHY portable resonator.

A scarce Mascot type hood on a rare cast iron desk stand, with message rack. No identification as to maker. The rack is the bronze Bunnell type.

This shows its age. There is a crack in the curved back of the hood, and the painted finish of the base is mostly gone. The cord is quite worn and may need replacement. Interestingly, a pencil is pushed into the base where to cord enters to keep the cord from pulling out.

The sounder is shown for display, and is not included.

Back of resonator.


#1012BPE Mascot style portable resonator.

As above, but without message rack. No identification as to maker. Overallheight is 14-1/2 inches; the hood opening is 7 x 5 inches.

The top of the hood is chipped,and the shellac finish has the typical shrinking of age. The cast iron base is patinated with light surface oxidation. There is no cord.

The sounder is shown for display, and is not included.

Front view.
Back view.

$179.00 (US S&H=$15.00)

#312BRY Algoma resonator hood.

This is a scarce Western Union resonator hood made by the Algoma Panel Company, as stated on the metal nameplate -- in all my years of collecting this is only the second one I have seen by Algoma. The bottom photo shows a WU stamp, and the hood mount bracket which is finished in WU green. If you have a White Company stand with a missing or damaged hood, here is a great item for your collection.

The sounder is shown for display, and is not included.

Bottom view.

$129.00 (S&H=$12.00)

#114TLR three-arm resonator .

A three-arm resonator with a Western Union Telegraph Company hood made by the Enterprise Specialty Manufacturing Company (the hood is so marked, but faintly). The metal parts are WU green.

This is as-found and needs cleaning. The back of the hood is slightly warped. The original wiring is in very poor condition and this may be shipped minus the wire.

The sounder is shown for display and is not included.

White name on arm.
Back of hood.
Warp on back of hood.
WU name on hood.
Maker's name on hood.
As offered.


#411CAP two arm resonator.

This consists of a two-arm cast iron resonator stand made by the White Company of Worcester, Mass., patent date 1911, and an unmarked (no name) hood. This was used on a Colorado railroad, probably the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. A paper pasted in the resonator above the sounder lists the office codes for the La Junta, Denver and Trinidad operators (it is quite faint and has been coated with shellac).

This is in as-found condition. The lower stand and the hood mount are Western Union green; the two arms are black. The longer arm has some loss of finish. The back of the hood has been painted black, and much of the hood has a shellac (or laquer) overcoat. Physically it is in very good condition and would be a nice authentic item for your railroad or landline display.

The sounder is shown for display and is not included.

Another view.
Back view.


#1000TOE Bunnell portable resonator with/without sounder.

The stand is similar to the Western Electric "candlestick" type, but this cast iron Bunnell stand is much heavier. This has a brass nameplate on the hood. At the back of the hood are wire terminals (probably added by a later owner); of course the sounder wires may be brought down inside the stand and out the bottom, as usual. This scarce resonator is in very good condition, as shown.

The model 15-B sounder is marked Western Union / Bunnell / 120 ohms. It is tested and works on 6 volts DC. It is in unusually nice condition.

The resonator is available separately, or with the sounder as shown. The sounder is not wired to the rear terminals.

The stand.
Hood and sounder.
Nameplate on hood.
The sounder.
Back of hood.


#501TEG Western Electric portable resonator.

This portable resonator is comprised of a Western Electric 10A hood on a Western Electric stand. It is in vry good condition, ready to be wired with your favorite sounder.

another view.


#611BAH Western Electric table resonator and sounder.

Western Electric model 12A table resonator with a Western Electric model 3B sounder, 20 ohms. It has the WE decal on the back. The sounder included here is marked on the lever and the wooden base. Table resonators were fixed to the operator's desk, and not mounted on a stand.

The resonator and sounder are in very good cosmetic condition. The sounder is tested and works (use 3 to 6 volts).

Back view.



A NOTE ON JACK BOXES: The railroad depot operator's desk or table would often include a small wooden jack box. Two or more lines were run to the box; inserting a cordless plug into one of the jacks sent the line to a particular telephone, or telegraph set.

Jack boxes for telephone or telegraph service were externally identical, differing only in the type of jack circuit installed inside the box. For example, the Western Electric three line box #385B is for telephone service and uses type 208 jacks; the three line #385D box is for telegraph service and uses type 224 jacks. So if you are restoring a depot or setting up an operator's desk display, either box would give the same visual effect.

#RR5472 Western Union jack box and plug

This is a "cordless table jack unit 2-B" made by the Fahnestock Electric Company for Western Union (note the WUTCo name at the top of the front panel). The box measures about 3-1/2 x 2 x4-3/4 inches deep. It uses a cordless plug (that is, a plug which has no electrically wired cord) to select the circuit desired. One of the rare plugs is included here with the table jack box.

If you are building a railroad depot or WU Telegraph Company display, this is a nice accessory.

Another view.
Yet another.


#1214xjm-box1 ...

This is a vintage cordless jack box used for telephone connection service in a railroad station. (A similar box was used for telegraph lines, but the no. 208 jacks were replaced with no. 224 jacks.) It is stamped inside the lid and on the bottom with the number 386A. There is a wiring diagram inside the lid. The box measures about 7-3/8 inches wide x 6-1/4 inches deep x 2-3/4 inches high. The construction is of oak with finger-jointed sides, and a top with breadboard ends.

Western Electric catalog 1-D-22-3 ("Railroad Telephone and Selective Apparatus") identifies this 386A box as for telephone service, having four lines (with a capacity for 6 lines). The two unused ("unequipped") positions are covered with a no. 17C blank oak plug. The catalog further describes this as follows: "Telephone jack boxes ... are so arranged that one telephone line can be terminated in each jack. A telephone set can be connected to any of these lines by inserting the plug in the proper jack."

This is all original as found, and in good used condition. One of the original jacks is missing, so I am including a new old stock 208 jack (you will have to provide a washer and nut). This would be a nice (and scarce) addition to your railroad depot.

Another view, with the spare jack.
Box open.

75.00 (S&H = $9.25)

#1214xjm-box2 ... early 4 position jack box

This 3 line, 4 position jack box is not marked. It measures about 7" wide x 2-3/4" high x 5-1/2" deep, and from its contruction appears to be an early jack box. The three jacks are Western Electric type 203 (one break, one make contact), with a 17C plug at the fourth position. WECo describes the 203 jacks as being "for miscellaneous use" and accepting a type 47 plug. I have no further information on this box.

It is in good condition. The finish has a heavy dark patina and looks like it may have been given another coat of varnish years ago. There are two small holes through the left side; it looks like there may have been two terminals inside the box at one time.

Box open.
Back view.

95.00 (S&H = $9.25)

#1214xjm-box3 ... No. 385-B jack box

This 3 line, 3 position jack box has 385-B decals on the inside cover and the bottom (the bottom one is mostly worn away); also inside the cover is the original wiring diagram. This box measures about 4-1/2" wide x 2-3/4" high x 6-3/8" deep; the hinges are spring-loaded (although they have lost their strength). This telephone service box has Western Electric type 208 jacks.

The finish on the box is light, and shows the grain of the oak very well. The construction is interesting; not only are the sides finger-jointed, but the top has "breadboard ends" (actually, breadboard sides...).

This box is original and complete, and would make a beautiful addition to your depot.

Box open.
Back view.

89.00 (S&H = $9.25)

#JACK203A ... no. 203A jack

A new old stock no. 203A jack (WECo nomenclature) stamped as made by H.C. Cook Co. The WECo catalog describes the 203 as having one make and one break contact, and for miscellaneous use.

Does not include washer or nut.

10.00 (S&H = $4.75)

#JACK224 ... no. 224 jack

A new old stock No. 224 jack (WECo nomenclature) which is used in jack boxes for telegraph service.

Does not include washer or nut.

10.00 (S&H = $4.75 for one or more) -- three available

#191CTP Single Circuit Switchboard

This is a single circuit unit switchboard model 1-F made by Fahnestock Electric Company. Thes were used to switch circuits in a railroad depot. The box could also be opened halfway to a stop, which would disconnect the circuit (the photo shows it fully opened).

This scarce item would be a great addition to your railroad depot operator's desk.

Front panel.


#508TLA Railroad scissors telephone
A vintage scissors extension telephone. A decal appears to be missing on one side of the scissors, indicating this is a Western Electric item; the headphone is marked Western Electric. The other side of the scissors is stamped "patented USA, May 11 1908, pat appd for."
The electrical condition is unknown to me so in that respect is offered "as is." It is getting very difficult to find these complete with headset and scissors base. Cosmetically the finish and cord show age and typical wear.
Another view. ... Yet another.

#508TLA ... $295.00 (S/H = $16.00)

#1214xjm-box4 ... 465C switch box

This is a small push-button switch box -- it is complete and original as shown. It would be mounted on an operating desk with two long screws (note the holes in the top which go all the way through the sides); the wiring would be taken out the hole in the right side. It is a "465C key" -- it is stamped underneath in the center of the bottom edge, see last photo (may be hard to read).

Western Electric catalog 1-D-22-3 ("Railroad Telephone and Selective Apparatus") lists this under way station telephone apparatus as a maintenance item for older type train dispatching circuits, which may be used instead of a foot switch. It is described in that catalog as:
"465C Push button type key mounted in an oak box. Dimensions 4-11/16 x 3-1/16 x 1-13/32 inches. Makes two and breaks one contact" and it is used "In train dispatching circuits for way station operators to cut in transmitter."

This is in good used condition showing its age.... it is a rare little switch and would be an interesting addition to your railroad depot.

Another view.
Back view.

$12.95 (S&H = $8.75)


Insulators are a nice "go with" to a telegraph instrument display. Although we don't especially look for insulators or pins, we sometimes acquire them in estates; I will offer those we find below.

The insulator was affixed to a pin attached to a pole. The telegraph wire was laid against the insulator's wire groove and held in place with a tie wire.
Pins were usually straight iron type, side-mount wood, or straight crossarm-mount wood.
Collectors identify insulator shapes by "CD" number; I will give these when I can but since I am not an insulator collector I cannot guarantee it.

#PIN-IRON iron insulator pin.

Overall this cast iron pin is about 7" wide and 4-1/2" high. It is painted black (has minor chipping). May date from the late 1800s.

Shown with insulator (not included).


#511TPA iron crossarm pin with insulator.

This is a vertical pin for inserting in a crossarm; it has a threaded wooden cob at the top for holding the insulator. The overall length is 9-1/2 inches. Included is a 4" light green insulator marked "B".

The pin is heavily pitted and the nut is frozen on to it. The skirt of the insulator is chipped about 40% around.

Shown separated.

$29.00 (USA S&H = $12.00)

#ARMSTRONGS3 clear glass insulator.

Cast into this type CD-115 clear glass insulator is ARMSTRONG'S NO. 3, MADE IN U.S.A. (A in a circle) 3 5 .... [four dots]". It is about 3-1/4" high and has two wire grooves. Very good condition, no chips or cracks.

$9.00 (USA S&H = $9.00)

#BROOKFIELD1 green glass insulator.

Cast into this type CD-102 green glass insulator is "BROOKFIELD". It is about 3-1/4" high and has one wire groove. Seems roughly cast; good condition.


#WU-INS Western Union insulator.

Rubber insulator made by Continental Rubber Works for Western Union. Cast into it is: front: CONTINENTAL / RUBBER WORKS U.S.A. back: W.U.TEL.CO. / PAT.PEND. dome: R*4 mold: 31 and 2-C. This measures about 3-3/4" high. The threaded wooden cob (originally on an iron pin) is still inside.

$19.00 (USA S&H = $9.00)

MISCELLANEOUS (Meters, signs, registers....)

#508COG J.H. Bunnell battery jar.
A glass screw-top type jar or bottle standing about 8" high. Cast into the glass is "J.H. Bunnell & Co., N.Y." The top of the rim has been ground to a flat surface.
Although I could not find it in my old Bunnell catalog, this is a Grenet-type battery jar dating from the late 1800s; compare the Novelty Electrical Company battery jar shown on this page.
It is a rare item; in twenty years of collecting telegraph apparatus, this is the first Bunnell Grenet-type jar I have seen. It is in very good condition, with no chips or cracks.



#208CCH Telegraph glue strip moistener.
When telegrams were received on a paper-strip printer, the operator would cut the strip into appropriate lengths, moisten the glue on the back with this instrument, and apply the strips to the telegrapm form.
The plastic water container is about 5-1/4 inches long. This set includes three metal caps: two Western Union caps (marked WU TEL CO) of different styles, and one Postal Telegraph cap (marked POSTAL). It also includes a green plastic "finger cutter" (worn on the operator's finger and used to quickly and efficiently cut the strips into lengths) marked Western Union.
This rare set is unusually complete, and in very good condition.
Close-up photo.


#WUCHAIR Western Union operator's chair.

Several years ago, the North Station terminal of the Boston and Maine Railroad was renovated (along with the entire Boston Garden sports arena). I was fortunate to be able to acquire several items from the telegraph office - which included this Western Union telegraph operator's chair. I have only seen one other in thirty years of collecting.

This rare item could be the final touch to completing your railroad or WUTCo office display. Good used condition.

Second photo. ... Stamp under seat. ... Another view.

$775.00 ... Pick up in Stow Mass., or I can deliver to a local hamfest; inquire re shipping.

#0605TRT Early Western Union telegram.. 1857 Western Union telegram. Western Union was formed, as this form says, by a "consolidation of the House, Morse, O'Reilly, Wade, Speed and Cornell telegraph lines." This message was sent just the year after the creation of the giant telegraph company. It is dated April 9, 1857, years before the completion of the first transcontinental line (1861). It was sent from Columbus and received at Mt. Vernon. A similar, and only slightly earlier, telegram is shown in Oslin's The Story of Telecommunications (p. 81). An early, scarce and historic document. Good condition, edges age toned, stain on right, left side fold open about 2". larger photo. $245.00 (S&H = $5.00)

#OLIVER708 Oliver Visible Typewriter.

One of the most identifiable of early telegrapher's "mills" was the Oliver side-strike typebar "visible writer." This was advertised extensively to telegraph operators in early twentieth century publications such as the Railroad Telegrapher published by the Order of Railroad Telegraphers (ORT) - see photo below. If you want a scarce, authentic operator's mill for your depot display, here is the Oliver No. 5. The serial numer 187xxx dates it between 1907 and 1910. Each type-bar has three characters - lower case, caps and figures - so there are two shift keys on each side.

This item is original, the finish and gilt lettering is in very good condition. All of the keys are free and operate their typebar. The space bar does not work and I think the carriage string is broken (there is a string on the right platen knob holding a part, that may be it, see photos). It looks like there was a pencil holder atop the right hand typebar segment, but it is broken. Otherwise this is a complete and nice looking addition to your old depot display, and it may work with a little repair.
second photo.
another view.
another photo.
Oliver advertisement.

$175.00 -- Shipping about $15 to $36, inquire with your address for S/H cost.

#0305BEE Ticket Office Sign. This is a double faced porcelain-on-metal sign from the old Boston Garden, playground for the Boston Celtics basketball team and the Boston Bruins hockey team. More relevant to railroad collectors, it is also the North Station of the Boston & Maine Railroad. The Garden underwent a complete renovation in the early 1990s, and this sign came from that work. It is double-sided, and 42 x 12 x 2" thick. Has hanger hooks. It shows some wear, age and chips (the photos make it look somewhat better than it is). second photo. third photo. fourth photo. $150.00 (S&H lower 48 states = $26.00)

#0105BPL Western Union sign.
Here is an original, vintage Western Union sign. The color of this large porcelain-coated metal sign is white lettering on deep cobalt blue. It is double sided, measures 30 x 18 inches, and has 14 holes around the edge for mounting (suggest hanging by chain from top holes for view of both sides). Although the edges show chipping damage, the lettered face is in very good condition. The lettering on one side is almost untouched (unusually nice!); the other has a nickel-size chip on the "W" and a smaller chip on the last "N" of "Western." There is a ripple or wave in the bottom edge of the sign.
second photo. ... third photo.

$265.00 (S&H lower 48 states = $22.00)

#208BOA Weston model 264 table meter.
The dial of this meter bears five patent dates, from 1888 to 1901 with "others pending." It is also marked W.U. TEL. CO (Western Union Telegraph) type 1-A. Overall dimensions are 6-1/4 x 4-1/4 x 2-1/2 inches deep. The scale goes +/- 175 milliamperes DC.
The metal case is painted gold (the original color was black) and the nameplate has been polished. This is tested and works (I used the center terminal as common and applied 100 ma first to one outside terminal, then the other).
Nameplate. ... Back.

$95.00 (S&H=$12.00)

#M1204BLL Weston model 264 table meter, 30 ma.
The metal housing of this Weston telegraph "mil-ammeter" measures 6" x 4" x 1-1/2" deep. Made for Western Electric / American Telephone, the scale is marked "A.T.&T. Co." and "W.E. Co. No. 12015." The nameplate includes five patent dates from 1888 to 1901, and "other patents pending." Mounts to table or circuit base-plate with two screws into the bottom (looks like #8/32). This meter has two terminals on the back, and the center-zero scale reads 30-0-30 milliamperes. Very good condition, tested and working.


#ALBERTTIN Pince Albert tobacco tin. What's a resonator without a Prince Albert tin to modify and further amplify the sound to the operator's liking? These are old tins without the UPC bar code (pre-mid 1970s). Most have the Prince in an oval on both sides, an earlier one has a legend on the back. One of these on your sounder will provide a colorful finishing touch on your resonator display as shown here.

PATIN-5 With zip code in address (1963 - 1970s). (The address is on the side of the tin, and the zip code would not be very noticable with the tin behind the sounder.)
Dented. $6.50

PATIN-4 No zip code in address (pre-1963). Top reads "net wt. 1 5/8 oz." Badly dented at bottom (perhaps from being jammed between the sounder and resonator).
Dented. $7.00

PATIN-3 Early tin: No zip code; the legend on back includes "does not bite the tongue", top reads "improved top".
Very good condition. SOLD

Add $3.00 shipping... no shipping charge is ordered with any instrument.

Artifax Books home page

Back to the main instruments for sale page

.end of page