Dating Your Vibroplex

Almost all Vibroplexes have serial numbers, but there was no way to date a Vibroplex by its serial number until John Elwood, WW7P, published the following document in 1996.   Somewhere along the line the Vibroplex production records were lost or discarded.  Starting in 1990, John compiled this information from a list of more than 3000 Vibroplexes, their serial numbers, and the date they were purchased, if known.

This document is copyrighted by WW7P and appears here, as on many other websites, with thanks and respect for his endeavors.  The copyright owner asks that this document be published verbatim, exactly as he generated it. 

The reader should apply some common sense to the information in John's document.   As John says, much of the serial number/date table was generated by interpolation - however, he believes the dates are accurate to within a year or so.  As John points out, he has added commas to the serial numbers to make the table easier to read.   Vibroplex did NOT use commas inside serial numbers.

Many thanks to John WW7P for a truly amazing effort!


                   BIRTH DATES OF THE VIBROPLEX KEYS          1996

    by John Elwood, WW7P, 5716 N. 34th Dr., Phoenix, AZ 85017 USA
ww7p-1.jpg (29902 bytes)
     As a key collector I have been asked many times to date Vibroplex
keys.  At first it appeared nearly impossible to do, so I decided to
undertake a project that would help us know how old and when our keys
were made.  It’s been a long job starting in 1990.

     I’ll start with serial numbers and approximate dates, then list
the sources for my dates, such as when the keys were first/and last
advertised, patent dates, sales slips, Vibroplex’s addresses over the
years, information from owners, etc.

     After the above dates have been ascertained, other dates were de-
termined by extrapolation of the figures.

     Remember, these are approximate dates but I feel they are very
close.

     It appears that Vibroplex assigned blocks of numbers for differ-
ent models of keys between 1905 and 1915.


   KEY         SERIAL NUMBERS            KEY      SERIAL NUMBERS

ORIGINAL       400-4416                  ORIGINAL  50,000-51,814

DOUBLE LEVER   6010-6014                 With the 253 Broadway ad-

DOUBLE LEVER   D5015-D5310               dress and later plates the

ORIGINAL       9,000-9,999               serial numbers ran consec-

"X"            10,238-12,250             utively.

No. 4          B518-B1623

ORIGINAL       20,011-20,788

"X"            25,090-26,154
                                  1

    Commas have been inserted to facilitate reading the numbers.

NUMBER          APROX. YR          NUMBER             APROX. YR

400-1,286       1905               84,682-88,402      1922

1,287-2,777     1906               88,403-91,375      1923

2,778-3,255     1907               91,376-94,316      1924

3,256-6,106     1908               94,317-95,865      1925

No numbers reported                95,866-99,574      1926
      between
6,107-9,999                        99,575-101,339     1927

No numbers      1909               101,340-103,104    1928
  reported
                                   103,105-103,952    1929     
No numbers      1910
  reported                         103,953-104,800    1930

10,000-10,399   1911               104,801-105,648    1931

10,400-11,766 }                    105,649-106,496    1932
*             } 1912
20,000-20,621 }                    106,497-107,344    1933

11,767-12,250 }                    107,345-108,192    1934
*             }
20,622-20,800 }                    108,193-109,040    1935
25,000-25,577 } 1913
**            }                    109,041-109,888    1936
50,000-50,907 }
D5015-D5310   }                    109,889-110,736    1937

25,578-26,154 }                    110,737-111,571    1938
**            }
50,908-51,827 } 1914               111,572-113,865    1939
B518-B1623
                                   113,866-116,159    1940
* No numbers
    reported                       116,160-118,452    1941
12,251-19,999
** No numbers                      118,453-122,536    1942
     reported
26,155-49,999                      123,537-126,619    1943

51,828-54,231   1915               126,620-137,394    1944

54,232-57,268   1916               137,395-148,169    1945

57,269-60,308   1917               148,170-152,526    1946

60,309-64,573   1918               152,527-156,883    1947

64,574-72,352   1919               156,884-161,353    1948

72,353-80,960   1920               161,354-165,822    1949

80,961-84,681   1921               165,823-170,292    1950

                                   2

NUMBER          APROX. YR          NUMBER             APROX. YR

170,293-174,762   1951             Portland, Maine

174,763-179,232   1952             386,952-391,230    1979

179,233-183,702   1953             4,003-4,955
                                   5,261-5,921        1980
183,703-188,172   1954             40,000-40,787

188,173-192,642   1955             40,788-42,077      1983
                                   
192,643-197,112   1956             Assorted nos.      1982 through
                                   42,078-49,762      1984
197,113-201,582   1957

201,583-206,052   1958             01,185-01,671      1983

206,053-210,517   1959             01,672-02,158      1984

210,518-217,034   1960             49,763-51,710      1985
                                   02,159-02,645
217,035-223,551   1961
                                   51,711-54,163      1986
223,552-230,068   1962             02,646-03,132

230,069-236,585   1963             54,164-55,911      1987
                                   03,133-03,619
236,586-240,870   1964
                                   55,912-60,077
240,871-245,155   1965             No numbers re-
                                   ported
245,156-249,440   1966
                                   60,078-61,963      1988
249,441-253,725   1967             03,620-04,106
                                   61,964-62,254
253,726-258,010   1968             04,107-04,337

258,011-263,874   1969             62,255-65,764      1990
                                   04,338-05,334
263,875-266,151   1970
                                   65,765-67,132      1991
266,152-267,328   1971             05,335-06,439

267,329-270,152   1972             67,133-69,068      1992
                                   06,440-07,725
270,153-272,975   1973
                                   69,069-70,410      1993
272,976-373,006                    07,726-07,896
Only two num-
bers reported                      70,411-70,778      1994
                                   07,897-08,205
373,007-375,415   1974
                                   70,779-80,361
375,416-378,752   1975             No numbers
                                   reported
378,753-382,089   1976

382,090-385,426   1977             80,362-80,870      1995
                                   08,206-08,514
385,427-386,951   1978             Portland, ME &

                                   Mobile, AL
                                    3

NUMBER          APROX. YR          NUMBER             APROX. YR

80,871-100,499                     100,500-           1995 (Continued)
No numbers
Reported

                                                                    

KEY          START DATE/SOURCE             STOP DATE/SOURCE

ORIGINAL     June 1905                     Still in production
             "The Commercial Telegraphers’
             Journal", June 1905, Pg. 32

Double       Jul 1907-Aug. 1908            Feb. 1925
Lever        Nameplate from WD6DTC key     "The Railroad Telegrapher",
                                           Feb. 1925, Pg. 32

"X"          Dec. 1911                     Jan. 1923
             "The Railroad Telegrapher",   "The Railroad Telegrapher",
             Dec. 1911, Pg. 376a           Jan. 1923, Pg. 6

No. 4/       Aug. 1914                     Dec. 1966
Blue Racer   "Journal of the Telegraph",   Harrison Ad.
             Aug. 1914, Pg. 15             "QST", Dec. 1966, Pg. 170

Upright      Nov. 1917                     Feb. 1919
             "Electrical Experimenter",    "Telegraph and Telephone
             Pg. 458                       Age", Feb. 1919, Pg. 11

Midget       Oct. 1918                     Sep. 1920
             "The Railroad Telegrapher",   "The Railroad Telegrapher",
             Oct. 1918, Pg. 268            Sep. 1920, pg. 358

Martin       c. Jul/Aug 1920               Oct. 1939
Junior       WW7P Survey                   "QST", Oct. 1939, Pg. 106

No. 6/       June 1927                     Nov. 1980
Lightning    "The Railroad Telegrapher",   Tufts Ad.  "73" Magazine
             June 1927, Pg. 126            Nov. 1980, Pg. 163

Champion     Nov. 1939                     Nov. 1980
             "QST", Nov. 1939, Pg. 114     Tufts Ad. "73" Magazine
                                           Nov. 1980, Pg. 163

Zephyr       Jan. 1939                     1958
             U.S. Pat. 2,187,351 shows     WW7P Survey. Last Zephyr
             a Zephyr. Filed 1/9/39        s/n: 201,928

Presentation Nov. 1948                     Still in production
             "QST", Nov. 1948, Pg. 138

Vibro-Keyer  Jan. 1960                     Still in production
             "QST", Jan. 1960, Pg. 140

Iambic       Dec. 1979                     Still in production
             "QST", Dec. 1979, Pg. 212

Brass Racer- Nov. 1982                     Still in production
Iambic       "QST", Nov. 1982, Pg. 162

                                 4

KEY          START DATE/SOURCE             STOP DATE/SOURCE

Brass Racer- Nov. 1982                     Still in production
   EK-1      "QST", Nov. 1982, Pg. 196

Straight Key-Nov. 1996/"QST", Nov. 1996, Pg. 201 Still in production

Most recent
Pat. Date or
Latest Pat.

Number         Date Range

Aug. 9, 1904   Aug. 9, 1904 - Apr. 15, 1906
767,303

Aug. 9, 1904   Apr. 16, 1906 - Jan. 21, 1907
Others pend-
ing

Jan 22,07      Jan. 22, 1907 - Jun. 30, 1911
842,154

Jan 22, 07
Ohers pend-
ing            Oct. 27, 1911 - Nov. 4, 1912
842,154
Others pend-
ing

Nov. 5, 1912   Nov. 5, 1912 - Aug. 3, 1917
1,043,449

1,043,449
Others pend-   Aug. 4, 1917 - Mar. 18, 1918
ing

1,178,291      aprox. 1918 & 1919
(Boulter)      WW7P Survey

1,260,008      Mar. 19, 1918 - Jul. 1920  (Start of 825 Broadway
                                           address)

Vertical Nos.  (On later keys with the Bug logo)

763,303        At top of list is wrong.  This patent is for a clip
               issued to Joseph A. Mayers, June 21, 1904.  Correct
               number should have been 767,303 issued to Horace G.
               Martin, August 9, 1904

1,260,008      825 Broadway.    Jul. 1920 - Feb. 12, 1923.  "The
                                Railroad Telegrapher", Jul. 20, 1920,
                                Pg. 274

1,445,226      This patent number preceeded 1,260,008 plus other pat-
               ents pending on Vibroplex keys.
               825 Broadway.  Feb. 13, 1923 (U.S. Pat. date) -
                              Feb. 12, 1925
               - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

               796 Fulton.    Feb. 13, 1925 - Jan. 8, 1939
                              "QST", Apr. 1925, Pg. 76 (Minus 2 mos
                              for ad to be submitted)
                                  5

Vertical Nos. Date Range

              Magazine ads for period Jun. 1925 - Apr. 1941 shows
              address as either:
                             825 Broadway
                                  or
                             832 Broadway
              however, all keys for this period are marked:
                             796 Fulton St.

1,260,008     796 Fulton St. Jan. 9, 1939 - 3-26-42 (Date on J-36 key)
Other pats    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
pending
              833 Broadway   3-27-42 ---1945


"Patented"    1948 - 1963    WW7P Survey
833 Broad-
way

No Pat. Nos.  1963 - 1980    WW7P Survey.  New company using up
No word Pat-                 833 Broadway plates between Sep. 1979-
ented                         1980.
833 Broad-
way

No Pat. Nos.  1980 - Aug. 1994     WW7P Survey
No word Pat-
ented
No street
address
                                                                    
                    RED/GREEN/BLUE COLOR BASE
START/SOURCE                     STOP/SOURCE

Jun. 1929     "QST",Jun. 1929,   Jul. 1936   "QST", Jul. 1936,
              Pg. 86                         Pg. 71


                                                                    

                         VIBROPLEX PATENTS

     Only Vibroplex patents listed that appear as last patent num-
ber/or most recent date on the nameplate.

     For a rough estimate of when your key was made, use that patent
date and the next patent’s filing date.

Patent Number            Filing Date                Patent Date
767,303                  5/7/04                     8/9/04
842,154                  4/16/06                    1/22/07
1,043,449                10/27/11                   11/5/12
1,178,291                8/1/14                     4/4/16
1,260,008                8/4/17                     3/19/18
1,445,226                12/10/21                   2/13/23

                                                                    

     As I mentioned at the first of the article; this has been a
lengthy project - well over six years, quite costly, data on over
3,135 Vibroplex keys and the aid of nearly 2,000 owners.

                                  6

     I want to say a special thank you to my wife, Edith, for all
her help and patience over the years.

     Another who has been most helpful is Tom French, W1IMQ.

     This article deals only with the dating of the keys.  For much
more information on Vibroplex keys such as pictures, identification,
ads, patents, modifications within models, nameplate data, etc., I
recommend you purchase Tom French’s latest book "Vibroplex Collector’s
Guide", Revised Edition.  Tom’s address is:

                          P.O. Box 88
                          Maynard, MA 01754
                          U.S.A.

     A most heartfelt thank you to the many who furnished data on
your keys.  The first draft of this article listed each of you but
it ran two and a half pages - single spaced.  I’m afraid no publisher
would accept that, so this paragraph will show my appreciation for
your fine cooperation.

     Now, when someone asks how old your key is, you can say, "The
birth date of my Vibroplex key is           ".

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