Re: Finding Bugs - Standard Radio
When you revisit that museum where you saw a Standard Radio Co. bug, you may wish to give them information beginning with that it was made by Standard Radio which if it doesn't have a label, they almost for sure do not know. But secondly; you can tell them from the information on the box mine came in that it was a World War II vintage special order key made for the Army Air Corps for use in planes, probably specifically, bombers like the B-24.
When you post the picture of the one in the museum, please copy a picture to me directly. I get the digest form of this list, and all attachments are stripped. I can not view the attachments on the Yahoo site because I am not a Yahoo member (because I don't want to be).
A little more about the key... ALL of the keys with labels are serial numbered. NONE of the keys without are serial numbered. All labeled keys with serials have numbers between 1500 and 1600.
My theory: based upon statistical frequency it is unlikely more than 110 labeled keys with serial numbers were made. About 15% of those are already known in collections. the labeled ones did not go to the military and probably represent all of those which were let out to civilians. the lowest serial number ones ALL have the early vibroplex pinned dash levers, and Vibroplex screws and locknuts. I therefore believe that Standard Radio Company was a subset of Vibroplex created for this special order only and disbanded immediately after its completion. that is why no commercial endeavor was made and no ads have ever been found for this key.
some of the non-labeled keys match the low serial numbered ones with vibroplex parts, while the higher serial numbered keys have parts matching other non-labeled ones. therefore, the serial numbered keys were made randomly all during the production of the military order, not all at the beginning or all at the end. they must have been let out to a few people who knew the key builders and specially asked for one. I can tell just by looking at a non-labeled key whether it was early, mid or late in the production by how the parts match with serialed keys. Neat, eh? Useless, but neat ;-)
Based on that and mien being dated 2-1-43, I am certain the first ones were made in 1942. It is likely none were made beyond '44 or '45.
The unlabeled ones almost undoubtedly were those sent to the military. Why did the serials start at 1500? Probably because they expected to produce about 1500, or the order was for 1500 to the military. How many were actually made? Unknown of course, but again from statistical frequency, about one half of those that have surfaced have no label. My guess is that 1500 were not made, more likely only about half of that. Survival rate for the military keys is much less. Mostly I imagine the fly-boys cared not a whit about keys and most were discarded long ago.
Here is mine before restoration:
You can see why no one would want it. Smart. Restoration took a LOT of work and at least a little expertise. and after:
Bases were made in black Japanned, green, nickel, leatherette black, and dark maroon, in order of frequency found in collections today. Mine had been Army green, but I could not find a green lacquer at the auto store that did not have metallic flecks in it, so I chose the dark maroon, also a legitimate original color.
All those except the nickel base which were in good enough condition to see (not mine for example) have the gold pin-stripes... except for the red one from the Willer collection. I believe his red base is not original. he painted it, and did so poorly. It is not a baked enamel as is the other red one I saw in Gil's collection. In all cases the pin-striping done was TERRIBLE! Sloppy, uneven, unprofessional. I bet that was done by a kid. and I wonder, wonder, wonder, why such attention was paid to base finishes on a key going to the military? All I can think of is they had a kid doing it so the kid could feel like he or she was somehow helping in the war effort. Also, I bet they waited and waited for the arrival of some parts, slowing delivery, so had plenty of time for such while waiting.
all conjecture, but it is fun.
73 - Fred kt5x (W5YA/qrp)
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