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Surfin': QSLing Those Radio Memories

11/25/2008

At the conclusion of a radio contact, the final courtesy is the QSL card. So, to conclude the recent run of Surfin's dealing with radio memories, it seems apropos to look at the QSL cards.

I recently inherited a shoebox full of QSL cards from the 1930s, '40s and '50s. It provided a mini-education in Amateur Radio history, and also revealed that there was an active ham who lived just five houses down the street from my parent's home where I spent my youth and early years as a ham. I recognized the name on the QSL as the maternal grandfather of one of my pals from back then, but I assume he pulled the big switch before my time because I never saw any evidence (antennas) that a ham was active five doors down.

After perusing my box of antique ephemera, I wondered if the QSLs had any value, so I entered "QSL" in the eBay search engine and checked the listing for completed auctions. The results shocked me!

A 1940 QSL from Kansu Province, China, recently went to the highest of seven bidders for $1225. A 1938 QSL from Howland Island went for $777. Those were exceptional, but the other completed auctions were not too shabby either, ranging in final bids of $28 to $179. Like I said, I was shocked.

I wondered who was responsible for all this, and after a little Web searching, I found the Who invented the QSL card? Web page of the QSL Collection Web site. The article considers the roots of the QSL card and concludes that 8VX of Buffalo, New York, issued the first QSL in 1916.

QSL cards are on display throughout the Internet. Visit the K8CX QSL Card Gallery that includes my favorite ham radio QSL cards -- QSLs from ARRL Deleted DXCC Entities. Also be sure to check out Old QSL Cards from Bob Green, W8JYZ, that I featured in a Surfin' column earlier this year.

In the broadcast spectrum, there is the SWL QSL Card Museum featuring QSLs from 234 countries and 904 unique shortwave stations. Also, there is the QSL Card Gallery of the Medium Wave Circle Gallery displaying 130 QSL cards from medium wave stations throughout the world, including a bunch of stateside AM radio stations.

Until next time, keep on surfin'!

Editor's note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, still wishes he was listening with his Hallicrafters S200 receiver. To communicate with Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog. By the way, every installment of Surfin' is indexed here, so go look it up.

Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor



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