McElroy 1938 DeLuxe Chrome and Marbleite MAC KEY in Box

Rare and Beautiful All-Original DeLuxe MAC KEY in Original Box, made by Ted McElroy in 1938, with Vibroplex Cord-and-Wedge, in Museum Condition

In a Nutshell
A very nice and complete 1938 McElroy DeLuxe MAC bug in marbleite finish, with circuit breaker in original box and coming with a Vibroplex cord-and-wedge

Theodore Roosevelt (Ted, T.R. Mac) McElroy [1901-63] (pict.19) was a telegraph operator, and at age 21 started winning code receiving contests and setting records. On July 2, 1939, McElroy broke the world speed record in code copying at 75.2 WordsPerMinute in Asheville, NC (pict.20), which only in 1991 was challenged in Europe, with a much shorter test time though. Ted also was the American Morse code champion, Japanese Kanji code champion, and won typing contests (150 WPM), beating his own secretary by 300%. McElroy began manufacturing telegraph keys ("Mac-Key") in late 1934. By 1941, 20 different Standard, Junior and Deluxe semi-automatic models and several straight (hand) keys were available. McElroy died in 1963 and is buried in his native town of Boston. Today morsists can have shareware computer programs, able to manage Morse communication up to speeds of 4000 WPM! For more on Mac Keys and McElroy's biography see references below. McElroy collector Tom French (refs. 1,3) has a DeLuxe key for sale for $745, without box and wedge (quote: "The most beautiful bug ever made").

For the Bug Novices only:
A telegraph or Morse key is a single-pole switching device used primarily to send Morse code. It is ergonomically designed for rapid opening and closing by a human operator using the tips of the fingers. The electrical contacts are held normally open by a spring. Pressing on the knob closes the contacts and completes the circuit. Another switch in parallel with the key is called the "circuit closer", and functions to close the circuit during the reception of incoming messages. This simple "straight key" (limited to ~20 Words Per Minute) was followed by an advanced sidewinder key (semi-automatic key, bug, Vibroplex key, cootie key, picts.4 and 8), which uses a side-to-side action with contacts in both directions and the arm spring-loaded to return to center. When the paddle is pressed to the left it closes the dash contact, suitable for sending dashes, when it is pressed to the right, a horizontal pendulum is activated which rocks against the dot contact, sending a series of short pulses at a speed which is controlled by the position of the pendulum weight (speeds of more than 40 WPM, McElroy's world record is at 75.2 WPM). Modern electronic keys include a dit memory function, so the operator needs not to perfectly time his transitions in the dah-dit-dah sequence.
The Vibroplex cord and wedge (included in this auction) has the old style cloth covered wires and integral stay-cord, and the Vibroplex name and address stamped on both brass leafs. It was used by telegraphers to connect a personal bug to a manual key. The wedge end is slipped between the base and connector strip of the hand key.

Additional information:
ref. 1.    The McElroy pages by Tom French, W1IMQ:
ref. 2.    Biography at:
ref. 3.

About my Key:
This is the second McElroy DeLuxe key I sell. The first one, a wide yoke 1939 model sold on eBay on Aug.7, 2007 for $685 (Item 270156108146); it had no box and no cord-wedge.
The key is in pristine condition, the box is missing a small piece of its cover plate. The fact that is has no serial number, is rare but not unique (see ref.1 above). The key may have been sent by the factory in the younger Standard box, since the "Standard" was blackened out long before several layers of tape were wound around the box. I removed the tape, which was almost petrified, carefully, not to damage the writings. The key is for sale, seriously interested parties please e-mail me. I ship world-wide and take Paypal, ich spreche Deutsch, je parle Français.

Here are the specifications:

Technical Description of Item
Manufacturer Theodore R. McElroy, World's Champion Radio Telegrapher, Boston, Mass., U.S.A.
Model 1938B DeLuxe
Type semi-automatic "Mac Key"
Production Year 1938
Size (WxDxH) 7½" x 4" x 2 ½"
Weight 4.2 lbs, 1.9 kg, without box
Materials Chrome fittings, bakelite knobs, marbleite base
Features Circuit closer, dot stabilizer, late pretensioning finger, single lever pivot
Comment In mint condition, comes with box and Vibroplex cord-and-wedge

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