Japanese Hand and Bug Keys
TTK (Toyo Communication Equipment Company Ltd.) Model YT-506 Japan.
 
All plated key with doorknob style knob integrated into a black bakelite box which completely covers the key. It is mounted on a wooden base which carries a label in Japanese. The label shows the date as "Showa 18 years, 3 months". This is the 18th. year and the 3rd. month of the reign of the Showa Emperor. Showa was the formal regnant title of the Emperor we know as Hirohito which was his personal name. His reign lasted from December 25 1926 to January 7 1989 making this key being manufactured in March 1945.
In 2005, Toyo Communication Equipment Company, Ltd. was integrated with the Quartz Device Department of Seiko Epson to become Epson Toyocom Corporation. Toyo Communication Equipment Company has a long history. Its predecessor was founded in 1891, after which the company began to develop its principal business of manufacturing telecommunications devices. So impressive was their technological prowess that the company’s wireless radios were adopted for use in combat aircraft known as ‘Zero’ fighter planes in the Second World War. Although Toyo Communication Equipment Company started out as a manufacturer of telecommunications devices, it became better known as a quartz device manufacturer in the 1980s through to the 2000s. From telecommunications device manufacturer to quartz device manufacturer
Japanese Straight Marine Hand Key Type 2 S/N 3192 circ March 1942. Maitsuru Navy Factory.
 
This Japanese straight key purchased in Saint Petersburg, Florida n the U.S. is identical in design to the Japan Radio Corporation Marine key model KY-3A but the label is from the Maitsuru Navy Factory where this and the examples below would have been manfactured. The label states that it is a Type 2 Marine key and shows the manufacture date as "Showa 15 years, 3 months". This is the 15th year and the 3rd. month of the reign of the Showa Emperor. Showa was the formal regnant title of the Emperor we know as Hirohito which was his personal name. His reign lasted from December 25 1926 to January 7 1989 making this key being manufactured in March 1942.
A translation of the label reads as follows:
 
Hand Work Telegraph Key Two Type
Showa Era Total 15  ?  3 Moon
No 3192 Heavy Quality .55
? ? Sea ? Span ?
 
Japanese Straight Marine Hand Key Type 2 S/N 3207 circ 1942
This Japanese straight key was purchased from Noblesville, Indiana in the U.S. from an estate sale in Kokomo, Indiana. It carries a serial number within 15 of the key above which was purchased from Saint Petersburg, Florida in the U.S. carrying the S/N 3192. How these two identical keys ended up both in the U.S. and in their final locations is a mystery but I am so pleased to have them both together again after such a long time within the collection. I just wonder how their stories differ from one another, if only they could speak. This example has a paper label with a 52 over a 120 and has a red official stamp mark which is yet to be confirmed of its origin. It carries the painted anchor stamp proving its Naval provenance.
Japanese Straight Marine Hand Key Type 2 circ 1942.
 
This example, although missing its terminal thumbscrew on the centre terminal, it is complete. The nameplate is unstamped, unlike the 1st and 2nd but differs by one character at the end of the third line. Due to this fact it imposible to date it accurately as the date stamp is mssing but would be similar. It does however carry the Navy Anchor Stamp clearly visible in the bottom right hand corner of the plate.
Japanese Aircraft Hand Spark Key circ 1940.
 
This key with its large replaceable 1/4” diameter contacts and earth strap from the trunnion to the pivot bracket would have been housed in a steel enclosure. This key was used on large Japanese bombers or aircraft stations but not on fighters where radio communication was limited due to interference from electrical equipment onboard. Bakelite base measures 5 ½” x 3 ¼” with nickel plated brass fittings.
Japanese Aircraft Hand Spark Key Circ pre 1940.
 
This early example which is similar to the one above has some similar design fratures with the replaceable 1/4" contacts and spring tension assembly. What is unusual is that the main trunion screws along with the two locking side screws have a cross slot which I have not seen on these keys before. Also the terminal screw and gap adjusting screw heads also having slotted heads rather than 'T' bars. This key would also have been originally mounted in a steel case as shown by the case lid securing pillar. It is presumed that the screw head design was altered to allow ease of adjustment with it in the case.
This nickel plating on this key has suffered over time with the main arm and trunion block loosing the majority of it's plating revealing the brass underneath, it has also got damage to the knob spark protector disc.
Japanese Aircraft Hand Spark Key Circ 1940. Two Terminal Version

This example, which is similar to the one above, has all the same design features including the replaceable 1/4" contacts and spring tension assembly. What differentiates this is that this key is a “Make” only key with only two terminals as opposed to the above “Make and Break” versions with three terminals. Evidence shows that these keys were used with the Japanese Naval 3 – 1 Transceiver. The beautiful bright nickel plated brass hardware is mounted on a slightly smaller Bakelite base than that of the “Make and Break” version measuring 5” x 2 5/8” and would also have originally been mounted in a steel case as shown by the case lid securing pillar.
This example was purchased from the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut. U.S.A. in February 2017 and is in wonderful condition and complete.
Miniature Japanese Hand Key Circ 1938 – 45

This tiny hand key would have been mounted and used in situations where space was certainly of a premium. One noted example was removed from a captured Japanese command car in which it was being used on the Philippine island of Mindanao during WWII. The key would have been enclosed in a black plastic cover and would have slid into a lead-weighted base that was screwed to a shelf on the back of the front seat of the command car. This example is missing the cover and base but does emphasise that although the Japanese made this key extremely small, the quality of workmanship wasn’t compromised, a great little key. It carries a painted mark on the side of the arms insulated sleeve just behind the knob, these marks are common on Japanese keys as can be seen on the Naval Marine Hand Key type 2.
Another example including the cover and base can be seen on the wonderful website of    Tom Perera W1TP www.w1tp.com.        
Dentsu Seiki KK. Japanese hand key  circ 1955 – 1965.
 
A well made hand key with ball bearings in the end of the trunnion giving this a very nice light feel. The nickel plated hardware is mounted on a Bakelite base and pivot block. The base measures 5 ¼” x 3” and looks similar to the SATO hand key. Dentsu Seiki Co Ltd was the predecessor to Hi-Mound.
Japanese Micro Switch Compound Operation Key  MS - 2.
Dentsu Seiki Company Ltd circ 1953.
 
This single paddle key can be used as a sideswiper or as a single paddle key depending how the 4 terminal posts are wired. Looking at the image and working left to right, terminal 1 is the positive line feeding both switches while terminal 4 is the negative line feeding both switches. Terminal 2 is the switch line from the left hand switch and terminal 3 the switch line from the right hand switch. This example is complete, operates well and has a nice feel to it.
This unusual key is quite scarce and is the first one I have come accross although I have seen examples in othe collections.
Hand Key No 2700 by SATO Parts Co. Ltd. of Japan. Circ 1955 – 1965.
This small hand key made by SATO Parts Co Ltd. of Japan has a model number of 2700. It has a moulded Bakelite base with the SATO name and Japan on the underside and chrome plated arm, pivot frame and terminal nuts. It was a well made key, manufactured for the radio amateur with centre adjusting screws for the arm and is the smaller and least expensive of the known SATO keys produced at this time, it is a close copy of American keys like Speed-X and Signal Electric being also made before and during this period.

Hi Mound Tokyo Japan model BK 100 Bug Key
 

This popular coffin Bug Key  was sold under many different labels including this one sold as a Midland Model 25 – 104. circ 1960.
Hi Mound Tokyo Japan model HK702
 
Hi-Mound has been in business since just after World War II, and these well-made keys, paddles, and bugs have a well-deserved reputation for quality. "High Mound" is the closest English translation of the founder and President's name-- Takatsuka.
There appears to be lots of variations with the same model number, expecially the HK straight keys.
Perhaps they produced them for different markets.

The Americans seem to have preferred the straight keys with flat button style finger knobs while the British preferred the curved down arm with the classic “mushroom” shaped knobs.
Hi Mound Tokyo Japan model HK707
Kenpro KK-60 Japanese Hand Key circ 1980.
 
This is a Japanese manufactured British style heavy duty hand key. It has 1 ball bearing at each end of the trunnion giving it a lovely feel and with a wonderfully organic styled Perspex cover which follows in the path of the Hi Mound Keys. It is fully adjustable with a heavy lever, silver contacts and rear mounted pull down spring typical of the classic British design. A good looking and usable key, the KK-60 being the middle of the range of Kenpro Keys.
The KK-50 was produced with fixed rear contact and without the Perspex cover
The KK-51 was produced with fixed rear contact and without the Perspex cover
The KK-60 was produced with adjustable rear contact and with the Perspex cover
The KK-61 was produced with adjustable rear contact and with the Perspex cover
The KK-70 was produced with adjustable rear contact, Perspex cover and mounted on a marble base
The KK-71 was produced with adjustable rear contact, Perspex cover and mounted on a marble base but with brass hardware.
 
KENPRO KOGYO
2F Sugawara Building
1-26-6 Kita OOtsuka
Toshimaku Tokyo 170-0004 Japan
 
Kenpro is owned by Vertex-Standard which is the company which also owns Yaesu.
Hi - Mound MANIPULATOR Model MK-704.
 
This is the Model MK-704 with twin paddles, they made 3 versions of the MK-704, one with a single black paddle, one with twin black paddles and one with twin clear paddles. This example is of version 3. They also produced a MK-704Z which was the single black paddle version 1 mounted on a marble base and with a clear laminate cover.
High Speed Key - Mikasa Radio Co. Japan circ 1943 - 50

This scarce semi automatic bug is a direct copy of the Vibroplex Lightening Bug Key and was made by Nanaboshi Electric Mfg. Co. Ltd. for Mikasa Radio Co. Kobe. Japan and was made during the 1940’s. On the underside of the bottom plate of the pivot assembly is the stamped name Nanaboshi giving good provenance and allowing this key to be dated reasonably accurately. This example is in good overall condition; it has a black japanned base with nickel plated mechanism and is all original apart from the weight which appears to be a replacement. The Mikasa Radio Co. nameplate, being written in English, would indicate that it was manufactured for the western market. My thoughts are that production quantities were small as Vibroplex would have clamped down on this plagiarism shortly after the end of the war which is why these bugs are scarce.
Nanaboshi Electric Mfg.Co.,Ltd. was founded in 1943 and their line of business includes manufacturing current-carrying wiring devices.
Their address is:
1-49-15, Kamitakada
Nakano-ku, 164-0002
Japan

This key was purchased on 27 February 2017 from Mrs Marianne Burton, the daughter of the late Bob Roberts G2RO S.K. and describes it as follows:

“The Morse key belonged to my late father who was an Amateur Radio enthusiast all his life. His call sign was an early one, G2RO. As a BBC Radio Engineer he travelled the world installing and advising on radio stations in dozens of developing countries early on in his career, later rising in the corporation to a high administrative position. His final responsibility before retirement was overseeing the building of Pebble Mill in Birmingham.”

Bob was a noted radio amateur and an active member of the Leicester Radio Society in Leicestershire. In the 1930's, membership of the Leicester Radio Society was restricted to professionals. Members included physicians, solicitors and local businessmen. Meetings were held in a private room above 'Winns Oriental Cafe' in Granby Street, probably in the hopes that membership to younger, enthusiasts would be averted. Bob Roberts - call sign G2RO, had taken over Pallet's job as Secretary and other call signs in evidence were G6VQ, G5VH, G6WU, G6GF and G6JQ.

In 1939, World War II again impacted amateur radio. Although all amateur stations were ordered to close, it is believed that some were allowed to keep their stations for the activity of 'eavesdropping.' The Leicester Radio Society remained active during the war period, meeting at a chapel in Charles Street.

Early Japanese Postal Hand Key Circ 1920 – 1935.

This hand key, with its design very similar to straight British hand keys of the period, is a Japanese Key once used by the postal service. One identifying clue is the flat wire strap between the main arm and the pivot block which is shown on many Japanese military keys both Naval and Aircraft keys of WW2. It has replaceable contact blocks on both make and break positions not dissimilar to the silent contacts of German keys. It is mounted on a solid timber base which gives it good weight and where, on the front edge, the manufacturers label first was, but sadly is missing on this example.