The Albright license plate e census.


In highlights


This page is dedicate to the legalized bustards bugs.

After Horace Martin and J.E. Albright commercial agreement, Martin closed the U.E.M. work shop and back in New York.

Here found the Vibroplex Company.

After this J.E. Albright start the license war.

First Albright makes agreements with the largest US communications companies for exclusive use of the Vibroplex bugs, so banning all other bugs.

Albright as a good trader thought of affixing on the bastard bugs, a legalization plate with cost of two dollars for each bastard bug.

This guaranteed the telegraphist the use of his instrument, but without guaranteeing construction defects.


The dear Tom French W1IMQ had initiated an interesting census for the bastards bug.  After two years since his death I decided to take Tom's job in the hands to make it available again.

As Tom wrote "use for non commercial collector", this will be the policy of this page.

I thanks here Tom French for the great job that he has given us, for this I will leave his AtoZ page with detailed along with his census.


Helpful and memory for us HAM and collectors of key.

I will leave its pages intact, each new addition in teh census will be in blue color.

Please, if you have unlisted a legalized bug, I invite you to contribute to the census.

Thank you in advance for this.


All best de Claudio IZ0KRC.


26 October 2018




Artifax Books

 151 Barton Road, Stow MA 01775 USA




Albright license telegraph keys



This page was most recently added to / updated in September 2015.



Copying this page for non-commercial collector use is permitted; kindly credit: Tom W1IMQ.



As soon as Horace Martin started producing his "Vibroplex" telegraph key, others began copying it. But between about 1911 and 1915 or so, James Eugene Albright, a typewriter and telegraph instrument shop owner located at 235 Broadway, and Martin's "sole selling agent," threatened and prosecuted the manufacturers of these illegal bugs.



Albright might also have sued the individual owners of these "bastard bugs," but he had a better idea: He allowed the operators to use their bugs if they paid a two dollar license fee. Upon payment, a plate was affixed to the instrument allowing its continued use.



Because the maker's tag was removed from the bug when the Albright plate was attached, determining the maker of these keys can be difficult. The most common one was the "Improved Vibroplex" made by Max Levy's ATOZ Electric Novelty Company. And there were many others.




ATOZ copy of Vibroplex, with type 1 Albright plate


But the maker of an illegal bug is not as important to the Vibroplex collector as the license plate on it. Such a key makes an historical addition to a collection of Vibroplex keys. These are commonly called "Albright bugs" today, with the understanding that Albright did not (as his nameplate says) make them, but that they are only licensed by him.



There are at least two types of the Albright license plate. Here is a photo of the most common, and probably the first, type:


                                First type Albright plate.




A typical first type plate reads:



this machine is NOT guaranteed NOR made



but only licensed by


253 Broadway, New York



Special No. 1234



The underlined number in the fifth (last) line is a stamped serial number. All the other information on the plate is engraved as an original part of the plate.


Here is a photo of a second type Albright plate:


                          Second type Albright plate.




The second type plate reads: 


this machine is licensed


but NOT guaranteed NOR manufactured by






253 Broadway, New York


No. 123



Note that the principal difference in the two types of Albright plate is in the wording of the first two lines. And there are variations in the fifth line, as seen below.


Here are some of the plates with their serial numbers that I am aware of (again, the underlined information is stamped on the plate):







 C E N S U S


Plate type 1 

"this machine is NOT guaranteed ...": 




  • Special No. 547 W.U.T.CO.




  • Special No. 614 W.U.T.CO. ... On a 1913 -16 double lever (copy) with square frame, second variety ckt closer. (ebay 11/2014)




·       Special No. 621 W.U.T.CO. ... (ATOZ [?] with nickel plated base, Ebay 11/05)




  • Special No. 622 W.U.T.CO.




  • Special No. 679 W.U.T.CO.




  • Special No. 808 W.U.T.CO.




  • Special No. 854 W.U.T.CO. ... on a copy of a 1907+ Original (ebay, 10/06)






·      Special No. 857 W.U.T.CO.




  • Special No. 960 W.U.T.CO. ... on an ATOZ. K5VT estate, on ebay 5/2012 Special No. 1029 W.U.T.CO. ... [WUT ?]  


  • Special No. 1049 W.U.T.CO. ... on an ATOZ; K5VT, on ebay 3/2012 Special




·      Special No. 1083 WUTCO ... ebay 9/09, won by K5VT  ==>  IZ0KRC 2012






  • Special No. 1088 WUTCO ... on an ATOZ; ebay 11/2011 poor nameplate




  • Special No. 1143 WUTCO ... on a restored ATOZ, put on ebay 7/2013 by XE1CK


  • Special No. 1242 on ATOZ improved model ==>N7CFO Lynn 


  • W.U.T.CO. No. 1270 ... on a nickel base Vibro Original type bug. ebay sept 2015






  • W.U.T.CO. No. 1327 ... looks like an ATOZ. ... Pete W2PM 6/2014




  • W.U.T.CO. No. 1328 ... on this key, see the nameplate. ebay feb 2014




  • Special No. 1368 on ATOZ improved model ==>2015 IZ0KRC




  • W.U.T.CO. No. 1378 ... probably an ATOZ; eBay 5/08; ebay 10/12 K5VT estate



  • W.U.T.CO. No. 1414 ... on a copy of a 1905 Vibroplex; poor condition, parts missing. W1IMQ (1990-DEG) to K5VT (2006-RYY), on ebay 11/2012 K5VT estate to Bob W0YBS (see




  • Special No. 2021 ... on a right angle Mecograph SN 07102


  • Special No. 2029 ... on a




  • Special No. 2107 ... on a 1913 Shawplex SN 527;W1IMQ collection 8/2011




  • Special No. 2219 ... on a Delaney Auto-Dot with number 673 stamped on the wood base; N4FS collection.




  • Special No. 2263 ... looks like an ATOZ; ebay March 2011 ... Tom W1IMQ




  • Special No. 2428 ... looks like an ATOZ; eBay Feb 09




  • Special No. 2454 ... Blue base, square cross section fixed contact and terminal posts, poor condition.




  • Special No. 2500 ... on a Delany Auto-Dot, K5VT estate 5/2010 




  • Special No. 2553 ... on an ATOZ? K5VT estate 3/2011




  • Special No. 2606 ... on a nickel plated ATOZ ("1" on bottom) Model X with serial no. 592 on connector strap. (ebay 3/2013)




  • Special No. 2623 ... on a double lever key. K5VT estate, on ebay 3/2012




  •  Special No. 2626  ==>  2012 IZ0KRC 











Plate type 2

"this machine is licensed":




  • No. 8 W.U.T.CO.




  • No. 68 WUTCo ... on an ATOZ bug




  • No. 169 WUTCo ... photo of last line




  • No. 319 WUTCo ... on an ATOZ (Bob




  • No. 352 W.U.T.CO.




  • No. 458 W.U.T.CO. ... on an ATOZ(original Improved Vibroplex plate SN 5300)




  • No. 466 WUTCo ... on an ATOZ bug




  • No. 486 WUTCo ... on a Delaney Auto-Dot, serial no. 200 stamped on the wood base; K5VT estate ==> Dave WA3LKN




  • No. 510 C ... on an ATOZ bug (wrong knobs, base repainted) (ebay 9/2011)




  • No. 585 C




  • No. 632 ... on a nickel base ATOZ (Wayne W4ID 5/2014)




  • No. 643 ... on a




  • No. 960 ... plate on a Dinger key. (note: no company code) ... Tim K4TJP see under.


It appears that on the type 2 plate the company for which the operator worked (or which owned the key?) is stamped on the plate, following the serial number space (see above photo). I have no idea what company "C" might stand for.




Last Update census Oct. 2018 - V 00.01