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Author Topic: How much would you pay for a J-38 key?  (Read 10398 times)
WA2ONH
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Posts: 255




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« 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?

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73 de WA2ONH dit dit    ...Charlie
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"No time is ever wasted that is spent LEARNING something!"
N5RDE
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Posts: 16




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« Reply #1 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.
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WA2ONH
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Posts: 255




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« Reply #2 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?
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73 de WA2ONH dit dit    ...Charlie
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
"No time is ever wasted that is spent LEARNING something!"
K7PEH
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Posts: 1124




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« Reply #3 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.
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3860




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« Reply #4 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.
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K0OD
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« Reply #5 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.
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W5LZ
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Posts: 477




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« Reply #6 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
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KB4QAA
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Posts: 2381




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« Reply #7 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.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20603




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« Reply #8 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. Smiley

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

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W0WCA
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Posts: 38




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« Reply #9 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? 
 Undecided
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N3DF
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Posts: 252




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« Reply #10 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. 
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Neil N3DF
PA0BLAH
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #11 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
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KD4AL
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #12 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
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PA0BLAH
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #13 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?  
 Undecided

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.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 05:08:23 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
AA4PB
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Posts: 12856




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« Reply #14 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.  Cheesy
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