ITALIAN KEYS

Early Swiss / Italian  Post Office and Telegraph Office Hand Key. Circ 1860 - 1900.
 
This is a beautiful early Swiss / Italian Post Office and Telegraph Office heavy brass key with 1/2” X 5/16” X 4-1/2” straight lever with an adjustable pull-down spring beyond pivot. It has a doorknob shaped knob and make only contacts although the original wiring looks like it was set up as a break in key. Huge adjusting screws. 5-7/8” X 2”-13/16” Mahogany and Boxwood base with recessed wiring. Greg Ulsamer, DL1BFE, reports that this kind of key was first made in the 1850's by a Mechanicus by the name of Kaufman in the town of Solothurn and later by the 'Eidgenoessische Telegraphenwerkstaette' which was the workshop of the (governmental) Swiss Telegraph Administration. Since many of these keys are found in Italy, it has previously been assumed that they were Italian.
Portable Linesman Key and Sounder Telegraph Set - F. ROSATI. MILAN.1865 - 1900
This beautiful tiny linesman set which measures only 4" wide x 4 3/8" deep and 2" high made by F Rosati in Milan between 1865 and 1900 is an extremely well made instrument. This example with the number 38 embossed in the right hand corner of which I can only guess is either the line number or the linesman's number. It is a combination set with twin horizontal Sounder coils which relay the incoming message when the key is in the rest position and is inoperative when the key breaks in to send. There are terminals marked "L" for Line, + "Positive and - "Negative". Siemens Bros in London made a similar looking set during the same time period but the typical Italian design of this set makes it stand out from the Siemens version which overall looks chunky and lacks fine detail.
Italian straight key by Allocchio Bacchini A/320 circ 1930.
This straight Italian key manufactured and built in the 1930s by the company Aero-technique of Rome. This key was supplied to the Regia Aeronautica (Air Force) and Director Guard before and after WWII and was used almost exclusively with Allocchio Bacchini equipment. After the war it was also the key used by the RT security forces who really praised the construction and handling. Its design is similar to keys used by the Italian Post Office although those had wood bases and didn’t have the distinctive tear drop shaped spark guard that this key is known for. The large black Bakelite base has two holes suitable for fixing on the countertop. This key is difficult to find and is sought by telegraph key collectors and amateurs.  
Italian Military straight key circ. 1930

This key was manufactured for the Italian military in the 1930’s by the Military Engineering workshops in Rome. It is distinctive by the material it is manufactured from that being ZAMA, an alloy of Zinc, Aluminium and Manganese. This was due to, at times of war and affliction, all available brass, gunmetal and copper was being used for military weapons and armament. It is also distinctive by having a pre-wired cable and jack plug for connecting to the transceiver, coming from the front edge of the timber base rather than the rear as you would expect. It would have had a screw on label at the front reading
OFF. RADIOTELEG ELETT
DEL GENIO MILITARE
No---------     ROMA.

Unfortunately, the label on this example is missing but is still a great addition to the collection.

POLISH KEYS

Polish Bocian (Stork) Straight Key circ 1965
This straight key was manufactured and supplied to the Liga Obrony Kraju better known as LOK which translated is the Polish National Defence League which was founded on 13 Nov 1962 and used mainly in the post-war military and paramilitary training. Manufactured in Poland but is clearly based on the famous long armed Swedish keys. It is constructed on a heavy cast iron base, painted either silver or green with a ball knob of red or white. It also has a similar spring arrangement to the Swedish Military and British NATO Naval Key in use after the war. It is a good solid key with this example being in great condition.
The above information and key was supplied by Stan SP6JOE, another collector who specialises in camelback keys and lives in Poland.
Polish Military Key circ 1960 – 65.
Only one of a few Morse keys made in Poland, this key was made around 1960-65 and is not commonly seen, in fact it is the only example I have seen. It is a simple key with cover which bears the logo ‘WZN’ and Zegrze underneath. WZN means Wojskowe Zakłady Naprawcze translated to Military Facilities Works (Military Repair Plant). This factory existed between 1959 and 1982. Zegrze is an area which is 30 km North of Warsaw, this key was made earlier than the famous polish key called "bocian" Stork Key. The cable and T-11 plug is original.
The above information and key was supplied by Stan SP6JOE, another collector who specialises in camelback keys and lives in Poland.

HUNGARIAN KEYS

Hungarian Homemade Practice Telegraph Set
Circ 1920 - 1940

This homemade practice telegraph set was made either in Hungary or by a Hungarian as can be seen by the code reference panels. The coil and battery holder is homemade as is the switch unit but both the key and buzzer are commercial units. There is a plug which can be docked into either the two red or two black sockets. The ends of the adjoining wires have banana plugs which appear to fit into the short tubes, these in turn fit inside the coil. Looking at the wiring underneath I am yet to see the purpose or functionality for the coil, although there is continuity through the wiring and components, this does have me baffled. I have so many unanswered questions regarding this set so if there is someone who can work it out I would love to hear from them. I am also yet to identify the beautiful small chrome key which has replaceable contacts. It has a maker’s logo of BF or BP with an accent over it or it may be birds wings, all encompassed within an elliptical circle. I feel that I have seen one before but just cannot place it. It is a great example of a homemade set from the 1920’s or 30’s.

FRENCH KEYS

French P.T.T Key
 
This is a French  key that is based on the French Post Office design of 1882, though it could have been produced until just after 1900. This design of this key is shown in the book "L 'Electricite", by Baille, 1883. The fulcrum pin of this particular key is threaded and screws into the lever. 
One example seen has, "Digney Fres.& Diverneresse"  stamped into the lever. Fres. is the French abbreviation for 'brothers.'  Digney Fres., was a Paris based instrument maker, that have made a variety of telegraph instruments
French PTT Key circ 1900.

This French PTT key is from an unknown manufacturer and has similarities to both the model 1882 and model 1907. Contact gap adjustment is made by a knurled thumb screw as in both models but I do have suspicions about some elements of this key, with some components seem to be out of place. It has an extension spring which, when tensioned, is locked in position by a screw through the side of the arm. The spring anchor point is not right with the spring soldered to a plate with two screw holes, but no corresponding holes are found in the base. There is a wire from this plate which is also clamped under the head of the fulcrum block securing screw. The fulcrum adjustment consists of a fixed screw on one side and an adjustable thumb screw and locking nut on the other with the fulcrum pin being held by a locking screw on the top face of the arm. There are also screw holes in the block that don’t seem to marry with anything but could be for securing a leaf spring like that of the earlier model 1882. This leads me to think that this has the fulcrum block and base from a model 1882 and the arm, due to its spring setup, from the later model 1907. This probably came about when a leaf spring broke and no replacement could be sourced, so a different arm was fitted and the spring taken through the base and secured as it is now. Any further information on this key would be greatly appreciated.
French key ‘MANITONE’ manufactured by DYNA 1954 -1989.
 
Manufactured by DYNA was the famous MANITONE.
It was sold around 1954 and was still on sale in the 80s along with the MANIFLEX a double contact key which uses the same principle of lateral manipulation of the "double speed key" or "side swiper" Bunnell manufactured in the United States in 1888.
MANITONE's were available in several versions: naked, with a hood and cord, simply suppressed or double outlet with cord. The model fitted with the hood equipped planes such as the CARAVELLE. Suppressed models were approved by the Navy.
 
In financial difficulties since 1983 DYNA closed its doors in December 1989 after 68 years of activity in the service of radio. But the DYNA name will always remain in the memory of old radio operators who have all used, at some point in their career, one or other of these famous French manufactured Morse manipulators which sent millions of signals. DYNA have been delighting French operators, both professional and amateur for over 60 years. Now fallen into disuse, except for a few collectors and operators hungry for the nostalgia for the good old days of radio. This key has a great soft feel and very easy to use, I like it.
The 'American' Key Mk 2 manufactured by Dyna in 1947

This French key manufactured by Dyna from 1947 is the Mk 2 version of the American. It has a cast aluminium base with the Dyna logo cast in the left hand corner near to the contact. This key has slight differences from other examples I have seen and has a solid arm similar to that of the Dyna Marine key of 1938 rather than the folded sheet steel ones seen on other 'American' style Dyna practice keys. It is a nice key but does need mounting on a base to prevent it tipping forward when operating the long arm.
Christian F9WT corrected my description of this key and has informed me that this is a Mk 2 version manufactured from 1947 not 1938 as previously stated, I thank Christian for his input and correction, a link to his wonderful collection of keys, especially French keys, is available on my Links page.
Dyna Buzzer 1932 - 1983
 
The Dyna Buzzer first made it's appearance around 1932 and was used for training in reading the sound of Morse Code, the search for a significant point on a crystal when tuning a crystal radio or the construction of a wavemeter. This example is as new and came with it's instuction sheet showing differant ways of wiring for differant applications. They are often seen mounted on a practice key or an a seperate small base. The sheet has a date code at the bottom of March 1957 and dates this Buzzer around this time.
  Working Model of a French spark induction coil circ 1920 - 1930's
 
Lovely working model of a French spark induction coil with overall dimensions of 4 7/8" x 2 1/2". A beautiful model on a polished mahogany base with brass hardware. The card and tin foil condenser mounted in the base was burnt out when received but on investigation the card was found to be made of cut sections of a French order book giving addresses in small hamlets in France. The script gives an indication of date, that being of the 1920 - 1930's
French Spark Key circ 1920.
This key is assumed to be of French origin, due to the design and its similarity to the French military folding spark key from WW1. It has ceramic bead insulation on the line from the insulated, replaceable upper spark contact and also positions for a continuity strap between the arm and pivot block which can also be seen on the folding key. There is no indication of manufacturer so the origin is just an assumption. Any further information on this key would be greatly appreciated.
French DYNA Marine Key 2nd model circ. 1947.

This key first made its appearance as a Marine Model 1 in 1938 but by the time of the 1947 catalogue it had been modified to the model 2. It was made by the French company Chabot founded in 1921 by Andre’ Chabot. They manufactured many keys and radio equipment under the brand, DYNA. The above example of the Marine Model 2 key is stamped DYNA on the top face just behind the pivot posts. The arm doesn’t have the thicker section cast to the underside of the bend just forward of the contact like others, so may be an early version. My assumption is that this was a weak point which fractured under heavy use and was modified with the strengthening web. It has replaceable contacts of 4.5mm diameter and a shorting strap between the arm and base to maintain continuity. Due to the pot metal or aluminium casting this key is quite light, weighing only 130g, so needs to be mounted to a heavy base for working
French Semi Automatic Bug Key the Vibro-Mors Type A. circa 1950.

There is not too much information about this French Semi Automatic Key apart from the following which has been taken from John G0RDO great website www.morsemad.com 
      
"The story of the Vibro-Mors was short. When the US signal Corps came to Normandy after the June 6th 1944 landings, they brought some bugs made by Lionel and Martin's Vibroplex, some were sold on the black market to European op's. In Paris, there was the French School of Radio in the rue de la Lune. A lot a of CW operators issued from this school had heard about the bugs but it was quite impossible to find one, and buying them from the States plus customs fees was costly, even when purchased through the free taxes French Overseas Territories". "So some operators and amateurs, got in touch with "Radio-Lune", a Radio Store, in the same rue de la Lune and around the 50's appeared the Vibro-mors. It seems that only one model exists, the Type A. No information were given about the constructor, even today we know the seller not the fabricant".

Maurice / F5NQL

EUROPEAN   KEYS

European Hand Key circ 1925 – 1940 - Manufacturer Unknown.

This key has me puzzled as far as its country of origin, to me it looks Italian but the knob may be throwing me off somewhat and of which may not in its self be original as the threads are quite loose. I have checked the threads and in themselves are not conclusive with two of the threads measuring as follows. 0.152” dia. x 36 tpi which could make it a No7 ASME Standard or a M4 x 0.7 pitch Metric Coarse. The other is 0.106” dia. x 48 tpi which could make it a No4 ASME Standard or M3 x 0.5 pitch Metric Coarse but I am edging towards it being European. It is a “Make” only key with two terminals and has ¼” dia. copper tipped replaceable contacts which would make it capable of handling large voltages and currents on early transmitters. It has a marbled red / brown Bakelite base of which I have mounted on a light, varnished timber plinth. The key itself has a wonderful light feel and is a nice addition to the collection.   

Any help identifying or being able to supply more information on this key would be gratefully appreciated.