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Ship a Telegraph Key

A telegraph key, also called a bug, is a device used to transmit coded communication, such as Morse Code, which was at some point in history, is the only way to communicate over long distances. Many of us may not be familiar with this era of communication, but for those who know about the importance of these devices, vintage telegraph keys are worthy of collecting.

The value of a bug depends on such factors as age, condition, rarity, place in history and desirability. There is not that big a market for old keys so collectors need to exert effort in scouring flea markets, antique stores and junk shops to find them. Trading is also rampant among collectors who want to get rid of a duplicate or get their hands on a model they are missing.

Telegraph keys are made from metal and composed of several parts, some of which are moving. This, plus their age and weight, make them fragile items to ship. A little extra caution in packing will help ensure that a bug arrives safe and sound. Here are some tips on how to properly pack and ship a telegraph key.

Remove the knob where the fingers go. These are typically made from plastic or Bakelite and can easily break. Wrap in a piece of bubble wrap and put in a Ziploc bag.

Also remove the weights as they may get loose due to vibration, fall off and damage other parts. Wrap them in bubble wrap and place in the same bag as the knob. Take off any other small moving parts that can be removed and placed in the bag.

Tighten all thumbscrews so that the lever does not vibrate. Tie the pendulum to the damper with a rubber band or twisty tie to prevent any movement.

Wrap the entire telegraph key in a sheet of 1-inch bubble wrap. Four to five layers of bubble wrap are most effective in providing adequate protection to cushion a fall or impact.

Place the bug in the center of a box with tightly wadded newspaper or foam all around. Place the bag of parts inside the box before filling it with more materials. The packing should be tight enough so the key cannot move around. Close the box and tape securely.

Double box the package in another box that is at least an inch larger. Use lots of packing materials on all six sides to keep the inner box immobile in the center. Close the box and seal with heavy duty packaging tape.

Address and label the package and take to a post office or shipping company.

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