McElroy Hand Keys

In addition to his famous bugs, Ted McElroy also made some interesting hand keys, including his beautiful Mac Stream Key. Below are pictures of his hand keys.

**On a sad note, the telegraph world lost a great man in February, 2016 with the passing of Tom French, W1IMQ. Tom was the definitive expert on the telegraph instruments of Ted McElroy. Author of "McElroy, World's Champion Radio Telegrapher", as well as "The Vibroplex Collector's Guide", Tom had a real passion for researching the history of the keys he loved so much. He will be sorely missed.

(Click on the pictures below to see larger versions of the photo)


Mac Straight Key (1937)

Ted McElroy's first hand key was built on a rectangular iron base with rounded corners. The key was available with an optional 1000 Hz mechanical audio oscillator called a "Hummer". Shown at upper right are pictures of the hand key with the attached Hummer oscillator.


Mac Stream Key (1938-1939)

The McElroy Stream Key was probably the nicest looking hand key he made, and sported a neat triangular metal nameplate.


Mac Stream Key, Black Crackle Version

Same size as the chrome plated Stream Key but in black crackle finish and no nameplate. A very uncommon key.


Model 200, Professional Stream Key (1940-1943)

The next Mac Stream Key did away with the nameplate and had a more rounded appearance.


Model 200, Deluxe Version (1940-1943)

Same as the 2nd model Stream Key but with chrome finish


Telegraph Apparatus Co. Stream Key (1940's)

Ted McElroy's Chicago partnership, called Telegraph Apparatus Co. (TACo) made a similar version of the Stream Key but the base was made of pot metal (zinc) which was prone to warping and cracking. Many of these TACo keys did not sit flat on a table because of the warping. They can be distinguished from a true Mac Stream Key by the bulge in the lever above the front contact. Also, the original Mac keys' bases were made of steel so they attract a magnet.


TACo Stream Key with Cracked Base

At the left is an example of a Telegraph Apparatus Co. Stream Key in which the pot metal base has warped and cracked. Often this warping will cause the trunnion adjustment screws to become frozen in place.


Mac "Cut-off" Key (1940's)

Another Telegraph Apparatus Co. key, it was designed to fit inside the TACo Morse Code practice oscillator which is why the front of the base was cut off. (KD4UJ collection)


Mac Plastic Base Key (1940-1942)

Similar in dimensions to the standard Mac Stream key but built on a plastic base. Available in Black or Gray color. (WJ1B collection)


McElroy J-38 (WW2)

During WW2, to support the war effort, McElroy joined several other companies who were making J-38 training keys for the US Army.


Mac Presentation Key (~1960)

McElroy's last straight key. It was a chrome plated oval base key in a special fabric lined plastic box with the maker's name on the outside. Also came with a special McElroy lapel pin inside the box.