Telegraph, radio and technical books.
Vintage keys, sounders and other instruments
Our email address:
We will be using this email address for orders, questions or requests: . We will no longer use our old Yahoo address; however if you happen to send an email to that address it should reach us.
Thief in Great Britain -- England -- the United Kingdom.... Ebay seller justthejob_2009 at ebay.com.uk has been copying and selling my Vibroplex Collector's Guide. If you buy one, you probably get a crappy photocopy -- don't blame me! And don't blame the other people whose books and CDs he has also apparently been stealing copies of. See this page.
No shipments to the United Kingdom. Thanks to Royal Mail, shipments to England are too often stolen, lost, misplaced, undelivered or misdelivered. I will consider shipping to England on a case-by-case basis, at your request, subject to payment and liability considerations.
We have added a rare Brooklyn Metal Stamping J-36 to our U.S. military keys page. And we are adding a few bugs from our personal collection to the Vibroplex page. To see a list of all of our instrument pages, click here.
A new edition of Professor Tom Perera's Telegraph Collectors Reference Book is here. Bigger format, and updated. Also the 4th Edition of The Story of the Enigma CD is now available! It contains twice the material of the earlier editions, at the same low price. Subtitled "The secrets of the Enigma machine and other historic cipher machines," it is a must-have for collectors and historians of all military crypto apparatus. Also the Prescott book, History, Theory and Practice of the Electric Telegraph, is still available. We are able to offer this scarce 1972 reprint of the 1866 book at a fraction of the price that rare book dealers charge for this reprint -- and forget about the price of an original! For all of these items, and more, see this page.
The Vibroplex Collector's Guide is out of print and will not be reprinted, but it is still available in PDF format on a CD. See this page.
If you request information and I respond, and I then get an automated response like this: "I apologize for this inconvenience, but you are not in my list of authorized contacts. Please click on the link below to place you in my list of authorized contacts" ... well, you may not hear from me. When you ask someone for information, it is only common courtesy to place the person or company being addressed in your "authorized contacts" list, at least temporarily.
Who we are. Artifax Books has been in business since 1990, when we first offered reference books to telegraph key collectors. The proprietor of Artifax Books is Tom French, author of several books on telegraph instruments. I have been an amateur radio operator since 1955 (and have held the same call letters, W1IMQ, ever since). My hobbies are telegraph instrument collecting, and cars (see below).
Over the years, this list has grown to include telegraph, ham radio and science instruments, antiquarian and used technical books, and other special items that are collectible, interesting, and available nowhere else.
All items are subject to prior sale, so e-mail me before paying to check that what you are interested in is still available, to confirm shipping cost, or to ask questions. In the winter we may be out west in our trailer and might not have your item with us (although we can place a hold on an item to reserve it for you). Our email address is
We accept US payment by paypal.com (made to any of our email addresses), USPS money order, or personal check with your shipping address imprinted on it. Foreign payment may be made by paypal, international postal money order, or wire transfer. If you pay by mail, let me know and I will hold your item for you.
Shipping costs are not cumulative. If you are interested in different items, I will provide shipping cost. Some small items will ship with a bug at no added cost. But others may be best shipped separately; for example, it is cheaper to ship a few knobs (first class mail) separate from a book (media mail) since knobs cannot be included with media mail.
Our email address is (presented this way to avoid email harvesting by spammers). We also use a yahoo address, so be aware that your email at Earthlink, Hotmail, AOL and other ISPs have email filters or spam blocker systems. If you send me an email and don't receive a response, it may be because I responded through yahoo and you are filtering out yahoo mail or didn't unblock our email address. Either that, or your mailbox is full (yes, we get bounced for that reason, too).
New and used books, and CDs
New communications books. Books and CDs on telegraphy and telegraph instruments, wireless, solar, and related subjects.
The Vail Correspondent. An index of all issues of this out-of-print telegraph reference, and information on ordering the complete set on CD.
Used communications books. Telegraph, telephone, wireless and radio (including commercial and amateur radio).
ARRL publications. Vintage publications including Handbooks, License Manuals, etc.
Americana including Local History, and The American West.
Books on Books including collecting, pubishing and printing.
Electricity and Magnetism
Miscellaneous Various scarce and collectible books on non-technical subjects, from history to poetry.
Science, Technology and Engineering Miscellaneous technical books from astronomy to surveying.
Category-specific books, instruments, equipment and parts..
Telegraph instruments keys, sounders, etc. Also small parts for keys, bugs and paddles.
Railroad Vintage books and rule books, and RR-specific items. (Also see telegraph instruments, and the new and used communications books)
Radio equipment, including early spark radio, tube home radio, military and ham radio, including related manuals, catalogs and publications.
Science instruments. Scientific, laboratory, electronic test and similar equipment.
Packing: Why USPS package handling sucks, and how to pack a bug for shipping.
Civil War telegraph instruments. Considerations for re-enectors in selecting 1860s intruments.
The Brown Brothers Machine Company keys. Photographs of all of the keys (and a keyer!) made by Brown Bros.
Tartans of the Clans of Scotland. Antique prints for the Scotsmen among us. Remember, April 6 is Tartan Day in Massachusetts!
The McElroy pages. Everyone should have a collecting specialty - this is mine.
Links to other sites full of more information on telegraphy and keys.
The basic key and sounder circuit, how to connect a key, sounder and battery.
Railroad telegraph landline circuits Diagrams and explanation, and suggestions for your operator's desk.
Get your old telegraph sounder up and running. Good information for the landline and railroad hobbyist.
Building a two-station telegaph system. How make a practice or public demonstration system.
Wanted: McElroy telegraph keys and apparatus for my collection.
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS. You can e-mail us, or send us a letter (a SASE for response will be appreciated). Since we often travel during the winter, we may not be able to read e-mail for a week or more during that season, and winter mail correspondence requires patience. Please check our announcements at the top of this page.
Here is a photo I took while out in the desert in Quartzsite Arizona in early 2008. It was winter, so the days were somewhat cool, although one night in the park behind us it got a bit hot.
Cars: Here's an old photo of one I built 30 years ago.
And if you are interested in cars, especially older cars, you have probably been to at least one junk yard. Check this one out: Desert Valley Auto Parts.
(For really old cars, check out the yard on the main street in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Sorry no pix.)
A cute little notebook computer....