PTT French Handkey
circa 1913

EARLY LAND-LINE TELEGRAPH EQUIPMENT (1): (Approximately 1881 - 1890s)
1225 FRENCH PTT KEY: Used in France by the Poste and Telegraph Offices. Massive all-brass key w/straight lever mounted on well worn wooden base.

***The well-known Belgian telegraph instrument collector Fons vanden Berghen said “This key is a typical standard model in France
during the beginning of the 20th century. The model was defined by the French government and was manufactured by many companies, as mentioned above.“

This key is based on the French Post Office design of the early 1880s, though it could have been produced until 1910.
Design of this key is shown in the book "L 'Electricite", by Baille, 1883.
On this French Post Office key, there is a figure ‘SI’ in a circle in the wood base. The key is believed to be a 1913 design.
Note similarity to earlier French PTT designs.

Note that on most French P.O. keys the lower part of the knob is mutilated, because the overlapping side bits of the knob have accidentally or on purpose been broken off. Pictures of PTT keys manufactured by L.Barriere, Deschiens and Appareillage Electrique, shows the same phenomenon. Why was this done? There are 2 theories floating around:
1. The French took measures to keep their knobs from spinning, and if someone was unmindful it was intuitive to just twist the knob to remove or tighten it, causing the overlapping pieces to break off.
2. Might be for aesthetics…fits the width of the lever better.

The holes on either side of the trunnion are probably for oiling. The French PTT 1913 key made by H.Provin in Asnieres (near Paris)
and Telefons Paris have the same holes. Other PTT keys have not.