Telegraph Key Collection

Bunnell Key, ca. 1915

High Resoultion Images: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5, Image 6.

This is a Bunnell 'Standard Wireless' spark key, circa 1915. I love this key, primarilly because I know its history. This key was owned by Bob Hess of Ohio, who passed away in his 90s in 2006. Bob was a life long radio enthusiast. Unfortunately I have not been able to locate an Amateur Radio callsign associated with Bob. Undoubtedly he was licensed given the pictures I have seen. It appears he did not have an active license in his later years.

I happened upon this key on an E-Bay auction, paired with a WWII Signal Corps Bunnell Sounder. In the auction listing, it has the image below of Bob at his radio setup (quite impressive!). Upon winning the auction, I asked the family for background information about Bob. I wanted to carry along his story with the key into the future. They too, did not know Bob's call sign(s) from the past, but they did provide a ton of information on his life, including pictures of his radio setups throughout the years, including the second photo below from the 1920s! Also shown is Bob, in active duty in the WWII Signal Corps operating a leg mount J37/J45 straight key. Unfortunately this Bunnell spark key does not appear in any of the photos provided, but it's fair to say that Bob used this key as a teenager in the 20's and 30's on his spark and later radio station. I'm honored to have this key, and use it in his memory.

This key is in all original condition with no replaced parts.

This is a great example of why it's important to ask the person you are acquiring a key from about its history. I wish I had this kind of history for the other keys in my collection. Saddly, more often than not, the history is long lost. But you never know what you might find out. Any information about a key's history keeps that history alive. Be sure to pass whatever history you have on a key on to the next owner too!

If you're hunting for one of these Bunnell Spark keys, here are identifying characteristics:

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