Monday, April 28, 2014

Unusual QSL Cards: Metal, Wood and Plastic

Back many moons ago, we presented a special feature here in Wavescan about unusual QSL cards which were made from various forms of paper and printed card, thick and thin, including blotting paper and parchment paper.  Then too, there were regular QSL cards that had been treated with oil and with varnish. 
            Over the years other materials have also been used in the production of QSLs, including rice paper, birch bark, and Pacific tapa cloth.  We should not forget too that the QSL text has been printed on currency notes, including Japanese occupation money.
            In our program today, we look at other materials that have been used to make QSL cards, including various metals, wood and plastics.
            At least four different radio stations in the United States have used a copper sheet in place of a thin card as an official QSL to verify reception of their station.  Three of these stations, all mediumwave, are located in the state of Montana where there have been several notable copper mines.  During the 1940s when the copper QSL cards were available, these three stations were highly prized DX targets for international radio monitors living in New Zealand.  These three stations were:-
                        KGIR   Butte                Montana          1340 kHz         1 kW
                        KPFA  Helena                                     1210                ¼
                        KRBM Bozeman                                 1420                ¼
            The fourth radio station that issued a copper sheet QSL card during the same 1940s era was an amateur station, W6SCV in Tucson Arizona.  This QSL card showed a hand painted picture of a western cowboy with his donkey, and the QSL text was typed in with the use of an old style typewriter.
            A large tin-plated generic style QSL card was available several years ago for use by amateur radio operators who lived in the town of Weirton West Virginia.  This unique QSL card measured 8 inches by 5 inches and it advertised Weirton as the Tin Plate Capital of the World.  Two different varieties of this generic QSL card were available, though they were quite similar in style.
            An oversized amateur QSL card from 1947 was issued by an international radio monitor living in the town of Mountain Iron, Minnesota.  This QSL card measured 7 inches by 4¾ inches and the QSL text was printed in the usual ham style on regular thin card.  However, attached to the card was a small sample of crushed iron ore taken from the Mountain Iron Open Pit Mine.  This card was issued by Bob Ostman with the self identification callsign W0-SWL.
            At least three different forms of wood have been used for the production of a radio station QSL card.  In 1958 amateur station HC1CW in Quito Ecuador had his QSL card made out of thin balsa wood.  Balsa wood is very light and quite fragile.
            In 1992 a radio listener who was holidaying in Alaska bought a tourist postcard made of plywood.  Upon it he rubber stamped a generic QSL text, together with a rubber stamped impression of his home address.  This QSL card was enclosed with a reception report to the distant mediumwave station KICY in Nome, Alaska.  The card was duly signed and posted in Nome, though it was spoiled in transit through the postal system, and it was received in a plastic envelope apologizing for the damage to the card.
            Back in the year 1999, the European staff of Adventist World Radio staged an anniversary convention in Portugal, celebrating a significant milestone in AWR history.  Five different styles of tourist cards were procured, each bearing a different colored picture of a tourist scene in Portugal. 
            These cards were all printed on thin sheets of cork, the same size as a regular postcard.  A QSL sticker was adhered to the address side and they were used to verify reception reports of the special anniversary programming on the air from Portugal.  
            Cork is harvested from the inner bark of the Cork Oak Tree.  Portugal provides half of the worlds supply of commercial cork. 
            Hard plastic was used for the production of a QSL card issued by amateur station WB5SGY in Dallas Texas.  This card is formed in the shape of the state of Texas and it was issued to another amateur operator in the United States, K3ASV.  Unfortunately. this hard plastic QSL card was also damaged in transit through the postal system; it was actually snapped into two separate pieces.
            A ribbed plastic card was used by Radio Netherlands in 2012 to verify the reception of their programming via the transmitter facility on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean.  This card is a tourist postcard and it shows a windmill scene in Holland.  The clear ribbing over the picture makes the entire scene look three dimensional.  The QSL text was printed onto a sticker which was then applied to the back of the card.

            Back more than half a century ago, there was a pirate station on the air in New Zealand.  When the station was raided by the authorities, the operator wrote a QSL text onto a standard 78 gramophone record and gave it to one of the officers.  This unique QSL has since become an interesting historic item. 
(AWR Wavescan/NWS 269)