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Antique keyers -- value?

Jun 17th 2016, 19:07


Joined: May 25th 2016, 22:40
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I'm getting into Morse code and I've been looking at antique keyers. Some are very old and look it. Some have been refinished and are gorgeous works of art. My question is: If I buy a nice, old keyer and refinish it does it reduce it's value? I know it's possible to take an antique and completely polish the value right off of it but I'm not sure about keyers.

Jun 28th 2016, 15:28


Super Moderator

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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I presume you mean Semi-automatic keys, such as Vibroplex, SpeedX and McElroy, or keyer paddles, such as like Bencher, Begali.

In my opinion, unless the item is exceptionally rare, items of technology are worth more if they are clean and look new. A search on eBay shows items that look new go for a premium.
Some people put in a lot of effort to totally rebuild a radio chassis, for example, with new silk screening on the front panel. That's worth much more than an original splotchy/dirty chassis.

Bob Allison
ARRL Laboratory
Jul 1st 2016, 19:31


Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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You ask "If I buy a nice, old keyer and refinish it does it reduce it's value?" .... my opinion (and you know what they say about opinions .... :) .... 'yes' to a 'collector' and 'no' to a 'user'.

If you have a really rare (and perhaps technologically important) key then I'd suggest that you refrain from doing any significant work on the key - consider selling it to a 'collector' and find yourself a more 'day-to-day' key that you won't feel guilty about if you fix-it-up like you want.

With something like the former Soviet straight keys that are on eBay all-the-time for twenty dollars (before shipping) it doesn't bother me at all to 'snip' the hard (read non-flexible) wires that were used to complete the circuit around the pivots and replace them with a flexible piece of braid (doing this dramatically improves the way these keys feel).

But (my 8th grade English teacher would wince) for the 19th century 'Steiner' straight key that I (somehow) bought off eBay for a decent price ... with it anything I'd do would have to be able to be undone (for instance to get the shorting bar to work correctly I put a small piece of wax paper between the bar and the body of the key to reduce friction so moving the shorting bar repeatedly doesn't cause the securing screw to loosen).

- Paul, WB5AGF

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