PixelBR

Revised: 4/16/2014


Original
~ 1905 - Present ~

The "Original" was Martin's first key.  Over the years it has seen changes to the pivot, castings, and base finish.  Chrome replaced nickel plating on the top parts about 1940.  A black japanned base with gold pinstriping was standard.  Optional nickel plated bases cost extra.  Scarce red, blue and green bases were  produced  in the 20s and 30s.  Black wrinkle became standard about 1939 followed by gray wrinkle in the 50s.  A Deluxe version (chrome base, jeweled trunion movement, braided lever jumper) was introduced in 1940.  During WWII the chrome was replaced with gray paint.  Brass nameplates now were made of tin.  Today, black powder-coat is the standard key base.



1925O
Year:  1925
Serial #:  95XXX
Nameplate:  D3

Nice example of black japanned base.
1925O




1931O
Year:  1931
Serial #:  105XXX
Nameplate:  D3

Scarce blue base Original. 

1931O




1953O
Year:  1953
Serial #:  180XXX
Nameplate:  D6

In my opinion the black wrinkle base finish is one of the most beautiful finishes Vibroplex used. 

1953O





Double Lever
~ 1907 - 1925 ~




The Double Lever is the second Vibroplex model.  It has dual levers, one each for dots and dashes.  When Vibroplex moved to New York from Norcross, Georgia, this key was produced with variations in the frame and circuit closer.  The square frame key has the circuit closer pivot either in the center of the closer lever or on the end opposite the knob.  The second variation has a rounded frame with the inside of the frame shaped like a cloverleaf with the circuit closer pivot on the end of the lever opposite the knob.  The Vibroplex Collector's Guide ranks the Double Lever 3rd in scarcity among Vibroplexes behind the Midget and the upright.  "At this level, the collector doesn't get overly selective about what he will accept" (p. 47).




1911DL
Year:  1911
SN:  None
Nameplate:  B2
1911DL





Model X
~ 1911 - 1923 ~




The Model X was the third Vibroplex telegraph key.  It has a single contact for both dots and dashes and was made in two versions.  The Early Model X, which is most common, has a square pendulum, "T" shaped damper assembly, and rectangular speed weights.  The Improved Model X is more scarce because it was made for only two years beginning in 1919.  It has a round pendulum, round speed weights, and a simple adjustment thumb screw damper assembly with no moving damper wheel.  According to the Vibroplex Collector's Guide the Model X ranks fourth in scarcity among Vibroplexes behind the Midget, Upright, and Double Lever.




1912X
Year:  1912
SN:  11XXX
Nameplate:  B3

The nickel plating is almost perfect.
1912X




#4 or Blue Racer
~ 1914 - 1966 ~


The #4 Blue Racer is the 4th Vibroplex bug.  It is differentiated by its damper.  A "U" damper Blue Racer is called a #4 while an "L" damper model is referred to simply as a Blue Racer.  Early models had black japanned or cobalt blue bases with a nickel plated base available at an added cost.  This is the only Vibroplex with a 2 1/2" wide base.  It's top parts also are smaller than the Original.  Around 1940 the Deluxe version with a chrome base and jeweled movement was introduced.  During WWII the Deluxe chrome was replaced with gray paint and the name plate, normally brass, was coated tin.  This bug was popular with early telegraphers who carried their own bugs to work because it weighed 1 1/2 pounds less than an Original and took up less space on the operating desk.




1921BR

Year:  1921
SN:  83XXX
Nameplate:  D1


This beautiful #4 has a nickel base and a cloverleaf mainframe.  This is a beautiful key that is in great shape after all these years.


1921BR





1923BR

Year:  1923
SN:  90XXX
Nameplate:  D3





1923BR




1963BR
Year:  1963
SN:  230XXX
Nameplate:  D6


The gray crackle base was nice, but it doesn't compare in character to the japanned base.


1963BR





#6 or Lightning 
~ 1927 - 1980 ~


This was the 7th Vibroplex key.  A Lightning produced prior to 1940 is referred to as a #6.  Top parts are screwed together rather than using solid castings, the lever is flat with a rectangular speed weight, and the damper is an "M" damper.  Initially it had a black japanned base or an optional nickel base at an extra cost.  Between 1929 and 1936 the #6 Lightning, #4 Blue Racer, and Original were available with optional red, blue, and green bases.  They are quite scarce.  The Deluxe version with a chrome base and jeweled movement was introduced around 1940.  Shortages of chrome and brass during WWII meant a change to a gray painted base and a coated tin nameplate.  In the Fifties the standard base was gray wrinkle.  Production ceased shortly after the company moved to Maine in 1979.






1935Light

Year:  1935
SN:  108XXX
Nameplate:  D3





1935Light





1964Light

Year:  1964
SN:  240XXX
Nameplate:  D7


Beautiful Deluxe
1964Light





Junior
~ 1920 - 1939 ~



The Vibroplex Junior uses Original castings but is mounted on a 3" base.  The Original's base is 3 1/2".  The Junior is the only Viborplex that has the nameplate facing to the right instead of the left.  The name Junior was given to it because it's a smaller identical copy of the Original.  When production stopped on the Junior in 1939 it was replaced with another 3" base bug, the Zephyr.


1922JR

Year:  1922
SN:  873XXX
Nameplate:  D1





1922JR





Zephyr
~ 1939 - 1958 ~



The Zephyr is the only modern Vibroplex built on a 3" base.  It's constructed similarly to the Lightning.  The Zephyr originally came with a black wrinkle base with later versions changing to gray.  Basically, the Zephyr is a Champion with a circuit closer.  According to the Vibroplex Collector's Guide the Zephyr is a scarce key, especially those with black japanned finish, since the black wrinkle base was introduced shortly after the Zephyr came onto the market.




1952Zeph

Year:  1952
SN:  178XXX
Nameplate:  D6





1952Zeph





Champion
~ 1939 - 1980 ~



The Champion is considered to be the second most popular Vibroplex model, trailing only the Original.  It also was the cheapest.  The Champion was constructed in ways similar to the Lightning and had a damper like that of the Zephyr.  It was and is a good beginning bug because it's easier than other models to manipulate and is able to send code at slower speeds.


1980Champ

Year:  1980
SN:  49XX
Nameplate:  D8


A rare and collectible short-lived sienna brown model.  Only a few Champions with a D8 nameplate were produced in Maine since the model was discontinued shortly after the company moved there in 1979.  The D8 plate indicates this was one of the last Champions produced.  It's a beautiful representation of the end of the line for the Champion and is in near mint condition.


1980Champ





Presentation
~ 1948 - Early 80s ~


The Presentation is similar to the Original Deluxe but with two important differences.  The Presentation has a gold plated top plate and, until sometime in the early 1980s (the company was moved to Maine in 1979), it had a LaHiff adjustable mainspring.  The LaHiff adjustment allowed the spring to be slid in and out by the operator to change the rate of vibration and thereby the key's speed.  The Presentation effectively ended as a separate model with the removal of the LaHiff adjustment.  Today, the Original Presentation is basically an Original Deluxe model with a gold-plated brass top plate and is not a distinct model like the earlier Presentation.


1965Pres

Year:  1965
SN:  244XXX
Nameplate:  D7


The LaHiff adjustment is those two screws on the thick part of the lever where it joins the spring.  By sliding the spring in or out the vibration (speed) can be varied.


1965Pres



Kayne