The price of keys

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N2SUB, Feb 13, 2018.

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  1. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just returned from the Orlando Hamcation, and I was shocked at what people are charging for keys! One guy had a common base sitting on his table. The only usable parts were the insulator washers. I figured I could use them somewhere, so I asked "how much". He wanted $10 for just the base. Next to it, he has a bakelite base cracked in 2 pieces...why would anyone buy that?? He also had an incomplete British key marked $60. It was filthy and needed quite a bit of work. Another guy had a bunch of old keys, all filthy, under a glass display cover. There was one that was so messy I couldn't read it, so I asked him to take it out. It was a Speed-X with a worn spring, and somebody spray painted the base gold. I can work with that, but he wanted $40. The thing looked like it had been sitting in a mud puddle for 30 years, and the paint was cracking off the base everywhere. Of course all the new stuff was around $400. So, I left without a key...I'm sure the XYL is happy about that.

    So am I just getting old and cheap, or are people selling dirty, beat up stuff for way too much money? I was disappointed.
  2. N2UHC

    N2UHC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, I went to a hamfest a couple weekends ago, and the only key I found was one of those cheap Japanese ball bearing keys. It was incredibly filthy as if it had been sitting in someone's attic or shed for the past 20 years, was missing the shorting bar, and the guy wanted $35 for it. I don't think they even went for that new.

    Of course this was the same table which had old, dirty, junk CB's with price tags around $50.
    N2SUB likes this.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think unless you're a "collector" (and only a "user") buying a used key seems silly when new ones work fine and aren't really expensive -- and can last a lifetime with very little care (evidently, more than some sellers have given them, but still...).

    I still use my three Bencher BY-1s all the time, and they're from 30+ years old to about ten years old. Not expensive, and do the job very well. Still have my Vibroplex Blue Racer, which is more than 40 years old and other than the occasional dusting has required nothing from me, and it still works fine also. It's even still shiny, and I've never shined it. I use a feather duster on it about twice a year.:p
    NL7W and K8PG like this.
  4. VA3VF

    VA3VF Guest

    You're neither getting old nor cheap. Some vendors are just crazy.

    Pretty much the same thing up here. It's actually more expensive to buy a junk key at the flea market than a good used one online.
    DL6BCX and N2SUB like this.
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Or maybe a brand new one?
  6. VA3VF

    VA3VF Guest

    Sure...but a $500 brand new key is totally out of the question. If I can find the same one used, at a lower price, I may be able to finally have it.

    I agree with going for a new one, if it's in the 100-200 dollar range.

    Actually, used gear, with a few exceptions, is my last option now. I like the smell of new, I can afford to spend a little more, and I'm worth it.:D:D:D:D:D
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2018
    WD4IGX, VE7PJR and K7MH like this.
  7. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yer gettin' older. Cheap I don't know about; it's pretty relative. Depends on how cheap your relatives are HI.

    Like anything that becomes collectible: axes, kerosene lamps, motorcycles, keys there are some very few genuine old finds out there, and lots of crud that sellers will think is "vintage Morse tapper L@@K!" quality. Gotta figure a seller at a hamfest knows when they're selling crud, though. "Caveat Emptor" as always.

    Be the fish. Sniff and keep swimmin'. After they've hooked up all the suckers there's a lot more elbow room.
    N2SUB likes this.
  8. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Sure beats the alternative! :)
  9. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Morse Express has the Nye Viking Speed-X model 320-001, brand new, perfect condition, with Navy knob, available for about $85. That's not a luxury key, but it's a fine performing, fully adjustable, classic design key, which, with barely reasonable care, should outlast any individual user.

    If you prefer paddles, you can get a brand new Begali Simplex Basic paddle for 119 Euros, directly from Mr. Begali himself. That works out to about 147 US dollars. That's Begali's most basic model, but he doesn't make junk; any Begali is a high quality, usable machine.

    I use those prices as a baselines. Properly cared for, keys don't wear out much, and shouldn't depreciate too much. So a used key might hold its value pretty well, if it's in good condition. A top quality key with a few years on it could easily be worth more than one of these basic brand new keys. But the point of my baseline is that, if the used key you're looking at doesn't look like a good deal compared to these new ones, don't buy it.
    NL7W and N2SUB like this.
  10. HB9FXW

    HB9FXW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I find it weird that used keys aren't much cheaper. There are less hams now than before and since the code requirement has been dropped, most hams don't have keys anymore. There should be a high supply of used keys, driving the price down.
    DL6BCX and N2SUB like this.

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