The Virtual Valve Museum
is the online presentation of my personal collection. This collection
has been assembled over a number of years, more seriously from around
1998 onwards, with the decision to share images of it with the world
being taken in 1999. There are currently
2587 valves in the collection, 2148 on the website, 86 coming soon.
The collection is made
up of items purchased over the years, and of valves which people have very kindly given me. In each
case where a valve has been donated you will find this noted at
the bottom of the web page.
Although the museum is
virtual, that is I have no space in which to display it to visitors,
if you are keen to see any item physically then please contact me.
If you want an item photographed from different angles, again let
You will also notice the collection is basically just that - a collection. I have very
little documentation and no stories online
as excellent examples of these can be found elsewhere, even on Wikipedia.
What I collect
I generally collect any CV marked valves (and semiconductors!), British military (Ax, Nx, Vx types) and
any other valves I class as 'interesting'. Of course peoples interests are as many and varied as
the valves themselves - to me, 'interesting' is typically those odd types that find use in military equipment,
including the likes of the Zahl tube.
My interests also include any kind of silica valve
and certain types of transmitting valve, for example
I have in the past collected almost any valve I could lay my hands on. However, in 2010 I determined this would only
serve to fill our loft with 'uninteresting' (to me) valves. In addition, some of the magnetrons I gathered along the
way are to be disposed of and I plan mostly only to keep CV marked types. I may yet dispose of all my German and Russian valves,
so watch this space and the ebay seller 'valvemuseum'.
If anyone wants elements of the collection to be on display at an
event, this can be arranged at cost (e.g. travel, accommodation
Donations of valves
are always welcome!
The current site
was redesigned at the end of 2002 but not all the pages have been
remodelled yet. The older pages are being worked through gradually, with the
valves rephotographed and the new page design applied. If there is an old page
you would particularly like to see refreshed straight away let me know.
My original valve website
started in 1999 on a little web server tucked away in my office
at work, but as it grew I moved it out onto commercial webspace,
where it has remained to this day.
Images are now taken using a Canon Powershot A480 which has turned out to be a very
effective camera for all uses, family and valve alike. It has a super macro setting allowing it to focus with the lens
just 1cm away from the object, and at 10M pixels it takes acceptable images. It might be me, but I find an 'actual' camera
a lot easier to use that the camera on my various mobile devices. Most of the newer images before that
were taken with a Kodak DC280 digital camera which had a couple of closeup lenses that
could be attached to the front. The older
pictures were taken either with a Cassio QV-200 which does not have
a flash, or with an SLR camera and then scanned in.
I first became interested
in valves, and electronics in general when I was about 8. My grandad
drew a sine wave on the wall to try to explain the difference between
ac and dc - I forget why but I can still picture that drawing. He
had a few old radios including one he built himself, all laid out
on a baseboard and looking like a well-made cupboard. He showed
me the valves in an old radio he gave me and then told me off as
I took each valve out and popped it on the concrete to see what
was inside! This started my collection, and soon after I took a
battery box out of my Lego set plus two 425PEN's
into school and showed the teacher as they lit up.
Myself and a friend often
frequented the local TV repair shop, and after a number of years
and many visits, the people running the shop retired. My friend
phoned me, we were about 12 at the time, and told me they wanted
to see us. So off we went. When we got there, all their remaining
unsold stock was all on display in various boxes, and with words
which have become immortalized we were told "take anything
you want". Being 12 I guess I didn't really know what to make
of this and hurriedly studied the boxes of valves for any that I
might find useful, but it all became clear when I extracted a few
and was told to take all the boxes of valves rather than one or
two! There must have been a couple of hundred radio/TV valves there.
There were a few other bits of kit we wanted and we took the first
load back to our house in bags, went back with a wheelbarrow (imagine
two 12 year olds carting old radios along the road in a wheelbarrow...),
and finally my grandad took us for the last trip in his car.
At secondary school I
discovered three things. I forget how or in what order, but they
were an electronics shop in the city centre that had loads of old
test kit and all sorts of goodies, a TV repair shop near the school,
and a house clearance dealer, also near the school.
A number of old radios
came from the house clearance shop, and were either pulled apart
or sold. I also expanded my valve collection with about 20 old valves
from this shop. The TV repair shop owner was a good source of generic
white valve boxes, plus he had a small collection himself. The electronics
shop was the source of several heavy items of test gear that left
their marks on the city busses as I brought them home!
My grandad had made me
a workshop in the basement and I could be seen regularly carrying
heavy bits of test gear home on the bus after school. The workshop
went through many phases as my interests changed between test kit,
radios, radio teletype, and at one stage had a wall of test kit,
plus Admiralty (Murphy) B40 and B41 receivers, a Creed 7E teletype,
several readers and perforators, and associated kit.
The collection itself
is a real mixture of the general and the special, including a real
live silica valve
and many WWII vintage microwave items. It is growing, and at the same time shrinking (!)
in all directions as I find new things to add or new areas to explore.
I trust you will enjoy watching the collection grow.
Part of the collection
is featured in the Brian Jenner book "Men and Collections",
published by New Holland Publishing, ISBN 1-84330-554-2.
I hope you like the website
and the collection. Comments are welcome
via the e-mail address at the top of this page.
Jeremy M. Harmer
Virtual Valve Museum
help support this website.
Each year a significant amount is spent on internet charges
in order to keep this website live.
The exhibit count is achieved through a database query
which counts unique entries. However this
does not currently take into account that there are duplicates, or
even triplicates of some exhibits, for example where there are different
styles of one valve. Currently it underestimates the actual total