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Trail radio pioneer’s signature sells

A 1936 QSL card from the radio communications department at Cominco that sold last week for $18 US was interesting for several reasons.



Part of an ongoing look at items of local historical significance on eBay:

A 1936 QSL card from the radio communications department at Cominco that sold last week for $18 US was interesting for several reasons that may or may not have influenced the three bidders.

It’s a rare artifact from “CM&S Radio Station CFU” — a ham radio operation used to keep communications with the company’s northern operations.

QSL cards are postcards sent to verify reception of a signal, often at a far flung location.

This particular card was mailed from Trail to an L.D. Brewer of Phoenix, Ariz. on February 1, 1936 and read: “Dear Sir: We wish to thank you for your authentic report on the reception of our signals which is appreciated. January 16/36.”

The transmitter, according to the card, was in Rossland, the power output was 500 watts and the frequency was 5705 kilocycles.

But the most interesting thing is the operator’s signature: Don Hings (which the seller misread as Huigs) was a telecommunications pioneer who helped launch Trail’s amateur radio station, 10AT. It began broadcasting Christmas Day 1931. Hings reportedly spent most of the previous night resolving technical problems to ensure things would go smoothly.

The station’s call letters later changed to CJAT, and it’s still on the air — recently rebranded EZ Rock.

Hings more famously invented the walkie-talkie, created in 1937 for Cominco, and originally known as the packset. He filed a U.S. patent in 1939, and spent five years in Ottawa developing it for military use.

In 1946, he was made a Member of the British Empire and in 2001 received the Order of Canada.

The card’s recipient is also noteworthy: L.D. Brewer was a pirate radio network operator from Tampa, busted by federal authorities in the late 1990s. Maybe a relative?

A similar card from 1936, also signed by Hings, sold in April 2010 for $8 US.

• An 1893 stock certificate from the Kootenai Hydraulic Mining Co. of Waneta sold for $150 US.

This company, based in Rochester, N.Y., worked the placer grounds along the Pend d’Oreille River from its confluence with the Columbia. Although they didn’t have much to show for their efforts, they did leave behind some gorgeous stocks.

This one, 100 shares issued to a William M. Mallett, was signed by president William Sage and secretary H.M. Goodhue.

Three others have sold before: in 2002 for $81 US, and in 2010 for $69 and $55 US.

An 1896 stock from a successor company, the Kootenai Water Supply Co. sold for $15.50 in 2005.

• Another Waneta item also sold last week: a Christmas card showing a circa 1910 winter scene. It went for $9 using the Buy it Now option.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on January 12.