The Telegraph Lore AWA PagesEach September the Antique Wireless Association holds its annual conference in Rochester, New York. The AWA is an organization devoted to the study of the history of pioneer electrical communiation including wireless, radio, television, and of course TELEGRAPH ! Members of the AWA not only study the history of communication, they collect its artifacts. In fact, the main attraction of the conference is its flea markets and auctions.
Of interest to key collectors is the "Key and Telegraph" meeting in which several presentations are given on the history of telegraph instruments. This is usually an hour and a half long session. The presenters typically bring slides. The presentation speakers and schedule for the September conference are usually known in April or May. I will publish details here of the 1998 conference as soon as they become available.
The "Key and Telegraph" session is reason enough for the serious key collector to attend the AWA conference. But what other features will interest the key collector ?
The Fleamarket and Auction-- Realistic ExpectationsMany key collectors attend the AWA meet hoping to find that rare key or bug. Well, I am here to tell you not to get overly enthusiastic. The competition is FIERCE. Pretty much every serious key collector in the country will be there sweeping the fleamarket before the sun comes up. Probably a few from Europe are lurking about as well. I don't recall seeing a single decent bug in the three days of the fleamarket. That does not mean they were not there; it simply means they were probably snapped up before I arrived on the scene. Think of it as a feeding frenzy of sharks with a limited food supply. The general auction usually has a few choice telegraph items. Unless you have deep pockets, you can forget about winning any of the choice items. Winning bids tend to be far in excess of what you would pay at a hamfest or antique flea market. It is still worthwhile to attend though, as the bidding process is quite entertaining.
Bruce Kelley operating the big spark transmitter in the AWA Museum during the 1996 conference.
What Else is There to Interest the Key Collector ?You can visit the AWA museum which has an outstanding collection of keys.
If you are real lucky, you will get an opportunity to visit the annex and see the Lou Moreau key collection.
You will see lots of keys you can not afford in the flea market. At least you can learn something about them. Also, some people bring their collections to the flea market. One collection is virtually a portable museum, and it contains many fascinating keys and telegraph instruments.
The conference is an opportunity to discuss key collecting with some of the best known authorities on key collecting in the country. If you like to talk about keys and collecting with fellow collectors, this is the place to do it.