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Unknown Object

Jim Katen

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This device is screwed onto a baseboard in the living room of a 1911 craftsman bungalow in SE Portland (Westmoreland/Sellwood). A single fabric-covered wire emerges from the baseboard and terminates under one of the knurled screws. The other screw is empty. The wire is not energized and I can't find its other end in the crawlspace below or in the attic above. 

An old radio grounding terminal? Antenna connection point? 

Does anyone recognize it? 



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  • 1 month later...

Radio grounding connection or radio antenna are still my prime suspects. The thing is, most old radio grounds & antennas consisted of a simple wire connected directly to the radio. Sometimes they used a radio antenna plug, which I see several times a year. 

This little gadget just seems awfully involved for a simple radio splice point. After seeing Jim Baird's comment, I looked at lots of pictures of telegraph equipment and this thing really looks like part of that equipment. I doubt that the house had a telegraph, but someone might have re-purposed a piece of telegraph equipment as the antenna or ground connection for their radio. 



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A telegraph office would be possible if the location seems right.

If it is just a residence, it is probably as mentioned by Rob, nothing more than an antenna connector for the big console radio. They didn't start having internal loop antennas until the early 30's. And for short wave, they'd add a long wire antenna, maybe strung up in the attic.


Edited by John Kogel
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I've been on a mission and I think I have found the manufacture source of the "binding post".

Link will take you to the website for the catalog from Bunnell Telegraphic and Electrical catalog with a suggested published date of 1901.

Image is from the page relating to the "binding posts" the seem to be quite similar to Katen's image.




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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't use it... but I 'know' Morse code ... it was 'absorbed' since age 12..     Being a musician also helps to learn/understand it (and vice versa by the way!)        The key set is a Standard Model Mac Key... Manufactured by Theodore R Mc Elroy   "world's' champion radio telegrapher'..   Boston, Mass, USA  :)

The only time I use 'code' is to rag on my brother (the ham) or talk to him "in code' secretly or to see if the code used in a movie is correct or not.. (surprising how often it's correct.. ) 

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On 4/19/2018 at 7:52 AM, Rob Amaral said:

Nice video... that guy's little keyer-rig is not heavy enough...

The one I have is a cast-iron monster... as my Italian grandmother would have said.. "She no move.. "   ... it's 100% mechanical...


When I was a code guy for the usaf we made these speed keys with hack saw blades which had a really great flexibility.  Yes, the one in the vid is wimpy.

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