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eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: WA2ONH on February 26, 2013, 01:47:56 PM



Title: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: WA2ONH on February 26, 2013, 01:47:56 PM
How much would you pay for a J-38 key? How much did you pay for yours?

Well, the one I bought in 1960 cost me $5.00 and I still have it. Here's what a recent eBay winning bid which SOLD for:  $331.99

eBAY.COM Links….

Original key listing:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-LIONEL-J-38-MORSE-CODE-TELEGRAPH-KEY-f-HAM-RADIO-TRANSMITTER-U-S-ARMY-/140918214150?pt=US_Code_Keyers_Keys&hash=item20cf614e06&nma=true&si=IrwkI6NqzgxoTqcP9zlTQSF8nPw%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

Bidding has ended on this item:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-LIONEL-J-38-MORSE-CODE-TELEGRAPH-KEY-f-HAM-RADIO-TRANSMITTER-U-S-ARMY-/140918214150?pt=US_Code_Keyers_Keys&hash=item20cf614e06

Now, where's that bottle of Antenna Wax I could list for sale?



Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: N5RDE on February 26, 2013, 02:44:39 PM
Possibly the winning bidder wasn't around in 1960 to buy one for $5.50.  In
1960 my Grandmother used to give me a silver dollar when I cut and raked her lawn, and
I would immediately go and blow the whole sum on toy trucks.  She told me
that I should be saving those for the next Great Depression.  Turns out she was right.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: WA2ONH on February 26, 2013, 03:00:33 PM
I realize that my $5.00 J-38 some 53+ years later would cost a bit more today, but bids before / after this item closed for $29.00 to $56.00.

Was the original box in that great of shape which upped the price to over $300?


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: K7PEH on February 26, 2013, 08:20:32 PM
I realize that my $5.00 J-38 some 53+ years later would cost a bit more today, but bids before / after this item closed for $29.00 to $56.00.

Was the original box in that great of shape which upped the price to over $300?

A couple of years ago, I bought a very nice J-38 with the black bakelite base and knife shorting switch for $40.  This was a hamfest, not Ebay.  I think the general range is $25 on the low end and maybe $50 to $60 on the high end.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: K8AXW on February 26, 2013, 09:05:39 PM
Probably the reason for the high price on that J-38 was because of it's original and pristine condition.  While I've seen dozens of J-38s (I own one) I have never seen one that hasn't be modified or hasn't been abused.

Items like these are like guns.  The prices some guns bring will blow your mind.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: K0OD on February 26, 2013, 10:19:37 PM
J-38s made by Lionel are especially valuable. For one thing, train hobbyists are interested in them. Plus the Lionel keys must be rather rare. I can't recall ever seeing one when I was a kid.

Would I have wanted a Lionel key as a young ham? Heck no! Lionel was a TOY company. 

Walter Ashe Radio in downtown St Louis sold J-38s for 98 cents in the early 1950s. Around 1957 the price increased to $1.98.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: W5LZ on March 03, 2013, 11:25:58 PM
Depends on the 'market' and who'z buying the thing.  I'm not a collector so I think that $300+ is absolutely silly.  I've still got my first 'J38', or maybe it's the second?  I don't plan on selling it.  UNLESS!!  I can get $300+ for it...  I have no idea what 'brand'/model it is.
 - Paul


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: KB4QAA on March 06, 2013, 01:06:08 PM
I haven't looked at J38 prices in about two years, but upper end Ebay sales were often going for as high as $70.

Lionel models have always been desirable.  New in box, $300 for a collector who wants it is not outrageous.   I can't recall seeing any similar listings in the last four years.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: WB2WIK on March 06, 2013, 02:53:12 PM
When I was a Novice 47 years ago I bought two brand new J-38s in unopened US Navy cartons with contract numbers printed on them from a local Army-Navy Surplus store for $1.00 each.  The shop had dozens of them and was very happy I came along to give them the $2. :)

It was never a good key, but it was a very easy to find one.



Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: W0WCA on March 07, 2013, 03:40:27 AM
Some of the commentary here leads me to think not so much about the collector mentality and how much a collector is willing to pay for a particular key, but rather the intrinsic value of a particular key based on it’s merit. 
So, what makes a “best” hand key?  Certainly, it should look good but does it need to be “art”?  What shape should the knob be?  How high from the table should the knob be?  What pivot bearings?  What adjustment ranges?  What about the mass of the “arm” ahead of and after the pivot bearings (balance)?  Can we actually quantify the ideal hand key (show me the numbers!) or is it purely subjective? 
 :-\


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: N3DF on March 07, 2013, 09:41:46 AM
By "hand key" you mean "straight key"?  Perhaps 5 percent of the cw ops I work use straight keys on a regular basis. 


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: PA0BLAH on March 07, 2013, 11:46:45 AM
I would pay nothing for that key. In general German war dump was excellent design, so was the Junker key, but the allied design was made up in a hurry, and crap quality. Back in 1956 I bought a (announced as) "speed key" for 2 $ brand new, which was an Asian(?) replica of the J38; Pressed metal, cheap design, knob cuts in your finger when prolonged sending, you NEED a not supplied base plate,  (or screw it in the desk), feeling spongy, in short CRAP. Of course a conserved bunch of manure of Pharaoh Ramses V would be worth a capital nowadays, but I should not pay for it because I am a realistic thinking person.

Remembering two postage stamps, both of value 50000 bucks due to being rare.
The owner of number 1 buys number 2 on an auction for 50000 bucks and burns it in front of a lot of witnesses.

After that event his left original possesion was the only one on earth and hence of value 150000 bucks. By burning his just obtained and paid $50000 he gained $ 50k by burning that second one.

Who wants to pay me for shredding my J38 replica?

Bob


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: KD4AL on March 07, 2013, 07:27:44 PM
The last J38 I got was about $40 buck or so.  But that was a few years ago. 
the two best straight keys in the world I've used are the J38 and the German Junker. My Elmer had one when I took my Novice test in 1972.  I LOVED the crisp feel of it. The Junker was very similar, although I prefer the J38.  I love that nice clean CLICK on MAKE and BREAK. The feel of the code is very important.

KD4AL


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: PA0BLAH on March 08, 2013, 05:01:47 AM
Some of the commentary here leads me to think not so much about the collector mentality and how much a collector is willing to pay for a particular key, but rather the intrinsic value of a particular key based on it’s merit.  
So, what makes a “best” hand key?  Certainly, it should look good but does it need to be “art”?  What shape should the knob be?  How high from the table should the knob be?  What pivot bearings?  What adjustment ranges?  What about the mass of the “arm” ahead of and after the pivot bearings (balance)?  Can we actually quantify the ideal hand key (show me the numbers!) or is it purely subjective?  
 :-\

Not pure subjective.

The spring must be adjustable and long, such that the force does in limit not change when you press the key.

All adjustments must by fine (screw thread) in order to make adjustments not good luck but precise and reproducible, independent of temperature and aging.

When you loosen a contra nut ( locking nut) and the screw can move sideways due to cheap thread, it is crap.

There must be standard a dust cover in order to prevent all what you can think about.

When you change keys and it turns out you can't reach your max straight key speed with the other one, don't use it

Contacts have to be wear resistant and reliable, shape is important, a sharp pinform will destroy the surface fast.

Construction of contacts has to be such that contact bounce on make and break is minimal.

There must be a way that you prevents to close the key completely with the contact spacing adjustment screw. (It needs clicking and a stop)

Hinges must be constructed such that the side movement can be adjusted to zero, but without wearing the hinges due to wrong form.

The knob may not cut your fingers apart after prolonged sending.

Key may not feel  spongy.

There must be a current connection between the mass and the moving part of the key, hence not some current return through a hinge or a roller bearing.

In short: J38 fails on all these points, doesn't it? CRAP as said before.

The knob low or high is dependent on the mode of keying with arm on table (American way) or free in air (continental way). Figures has shown that carpal tunnel syndrome was less in continental way of keying.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: AA4PB on March 08, 2013, 05:33:04 AM
I expect that when someone is shooting at you the quality of your J38 key is no longer a priority.  :D


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: AC2EU on March 08, 2013, 08:09:50 AM
I bought a key that looks very much like that the J38 pictured , but of brass construction with a  shorting key at a ham fest for $5.
What is the fascination that would cause someone to pay $300+ dollars for one?
Besides you can send faster/cleaner cw using paddles...

Some of the straight key guys are hard to listen to. Sometimes I think they should be required to pass a test on one before they are allowed to use a straight key on the air!  ;D


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: W1JKA on March 08, 2013, 10:31:32 AM
Re: AC2EU

  Ever listen to some paddle or bug users on the air?, forget about testing,it should be illegal. ;D


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: AC2EU on March 10, 2013, 10:30:16 AM
Re: AC2EU

  Ever listen to some paddle or bug users on the air?, forget about testing,it should be illegal. ;D

Well at least the dits and dahs are even with the electronic keyers...  ;D
To tell you the truth, I may be guilty of  some CW crimes, myself!   :o


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: PA1ZP on March 12, 2013, 11:12:40 AM
Hi to all

How much I would pay for such a bug depends mostly on the condition it is in.

And for all bug users, they are like Mick Jagger , sometimes uglyness has its own beauty


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: PA0BLAH on March 12, 2013, 02:29:45 PM
 
Hi to all

How much I would pay for such a bug depends mostly on the condition it is in.

And for all bug users, they are like Mick Jagger , sometimes uglyness has its own beauty

 ;D
Jos, the J38 is a straight key made in a hurry  like 19 set and so on. It is really crap quality, the only key that is worse I have ever seen is some toy used for scouting.

Bob


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: KE6EE on March 12, 2013, 02:47:14 PM
Then there's the J-37. I've got one. I put a Navy-type knob on it. It works. It was cheap.

"J-37 keys are small, light, and tough as nails. Their size and construction make them an excellent choice for a backup or portable key. Many people think that leaf springs, which are used on the J-37's, have better mechanical characteristics than coil springs (which are used on keys like the J-38 and Speed-X hand keys) and therefore prefer the J-37 keys."

http://k6ix.net/J37Keys.html


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: KB2FCV on March 13, 2013, 12:08:25 PM
I have never seen one in the original box, that might have something to do with the high price? Most I've seen were floating around in a junk box, etc.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: PA1ZP on March 14, 2013, 10:02:41 AM
Hi All

So J-38 is a hand key.
Max prize abt 20 Euros.
I can buy NOS Chech keys for this prize and they are realy well build.
They are flame proof
Sometimes these Chech keys are still wrapped in original paper and conservation oil inside.
At the plugs you can see they were never connected.
I still save a piece of this paper with stock number in my Chech army key.
 
Also you can find Junker keys in very good condx for abt 25 Euros.
And you can find Russian flame proof keys at abt 25 Euro,s.

I thought a J38 it was a bug like the Lionel or Vibroplex war bug.

I do have a Junker a Chech key and a Lorenz Key and some british or US straight key and a Japanese Tyco remake of a US WW2 key.
I almost never use them.
Only the very old and damaged straight key I inhareted from PZ1AP is sometimes used in sake of remembering him.
Always use the Paddles or the Vibroplex, straight keys is to hard working at a to slow speed hihi.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: WY4J on March 24, 2013, 06:00:14 AM
Oh come on, that has to be a bogus sale. Nobody can be that stupid!!!! I think $40 to $50 for one in very good condition. I see them on the ham swap sites all the time. Has did Ebay moron ever heard of eham, qrz or qth?


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: WY4J on March 24, 2013, 06:15:42 AM
PS, I've seen junk sellers give their stuff away as recently when I was able to purchase a mint condition Brown Brothers paddle and electronic keyer of $25. The lady was a junk seller and did not list it by the correct name and I ended up being the only bidder. This Ebay seller's items are not of a particular genre but just a combination of old junk. Funny how he was able to list this old cw key and hit a home run selling it for ten times its value. Don't trust Ebay and will never trust Ebay. I prefer to do business with real hams that I can pick up the phone and call them if I have a question.


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: K0OD on March 24, 2013, 04:36:16 PM
This photo confirms my recollection that J-38s could be bought for 98 cents, at least at Walter Ashe Radio here. They went to $1.98 in the late 1950s... my first brush with inflation! 
http://k6ix.net/J-38/Types/J-38-10-8F.jpg



Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: IK0YGJ on March 25, 2013, 07:31:36 AM
It is a very nice key to start out, but no more than 20€. With enough luck, you can get a swedish long lever key. That would be a great investment.

73 Carlo


*******
Download Zen and the Art Of Radiotelegraphy free in PDF format here:

http://www.qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/index.html

Now in 4 languages: Italian, English, German, French  


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: WY4J on April 13, 2013, 12:05:47 PM
I now know why the little J-38 went for so much. I cried when I read this amazing story and still tear up every time I read it.

The story goes like this; The call scratched on the bottom of the key belonged to dear old gramps or as he was lovingly referred to as the crazy old coot who interfered with all the crystal sets in the neighborhood. Boy did all the neighbors hate gramps when they tried listening to Blondie, Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, The Gumps, Li'l Abner, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye the Sailor, Red Ryder, Reg'lar Fellers, Terry and the Pirates and Tillie the Toiler and all the time gramps was 594 (the tone was terrible on his homebrew 6L6 transmitter.

This was granddaddy's cw key that he begrudgingly had to hock to get a gallon of gas and buy the family something to eat during the dust bowl days on their ride to California in their beat up Model T together with the Henry Fonda and the Joads family. Now, grand sonny turned out to be an internet start up multi-billionaire who has been searching for gramps old key for the last 40 years. He now comes across it on efraud and pays $331.99 for it knowing that it was the stupidest thing he has ever done but since gramps who is now 157 years old is and on his deathbed he wants to surprise him with the old J-38 before he sends his last dah dit dah dit dah dah dit dah. Besides, the key still had the original box and we know that paying and additional $280 for "THE BOX" is a bargain. WE also have to take into account that sonny had to fight off 4 other morons who did not want the J-38 but were just bidding for "THE BOX."

Now, this is story that will add another $300 to the price. I have another really nice J-38 any takers for $631.00?


Title: RE: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?
Post by: K7NHB on April 26, 2013, 06:04:07 PM
I think you are missing it - most likely the $331.99 J-38 came with a manual.