A 1926 ARRL Handbook

The capstone for my ARRL Handbook collection is a 1926 first edition ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook that Connie gave me for Christmas. I happened to see it come up on eBay with an interesting description, and she said “BUY IT.”

This particular Handbook is hardcover bound and embossed with the name of the original owner, Harry T. Carroll/W4AEE.

Hardbound copy of the 1926 First Edition ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook.  The name of the original owner, Harry T. Carroll is embossed on the lower right corner of the front cover.
Hardbound copy of the 1926 First Edition ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook

The Handbook comes with a pretty cool story related to me in a letter (and also part of the eBay listing description) from Harry’s grandson (now W4AEE).

On the title page are the names of three previous owners: Harry T. Carroll/W4AEE, James McKennon/W4ATD, and Wm Ray /W4CUP.

Title page of the First Edition ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook with the names of several previous owners: Harry Carroll/W4AEE, James McKennon/W4ATD, and Wm Ray/W4CUP.
Title page of the First Edition ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook

Harry/W4AEE was given the Handbook by his father as a birthday present, hardcover bound and with Harry’s name on the front cover.

The front cover bears the name of my grandfather as the original cover did. It was given to him by his father as a 20th birthday present in 1926.

W4AEE, eBay listing description

Harry received this book when it was a brand new publication. What a great birthday present it must have been!

Harry/W4AEE later loaned the book to James McKennon/W4ATD (who perhaps misinterpreted the gesture or just forgot, which might explain why he wrote “Property of W4ATD” on the title page). Harry/W4AEE was later unable to get back in touch with W4ATD to get the handbook back.

A few years later, Harry remembered the loan and wanted to get his handbook back. So, he attempted to contact Jim without success; relatives said Jim had joined the Navy.

W4AEE, personal correspondance

At some point (apparently in 1937), the book ended up in the possession of Wm Ray/W4CUP, who added his name on the title page.

Eventually, after many years and happy circumstance, the handbook found its way to Harry’s grandson:

Many years later, in the 1990s, I was listening to stories being shared by some OMs (old timers) at the Chattanooga Hamfest. The subject turned to old radio books. I mentioned that my granddad had once owned a 1st Edition ARRL Handbook but never saw it again after loaning it out in the early 1930s. One of the men in the group (Bill Ray, W4CUP) asked me my graddad’s name and callsign. I told him and he began to grin and said “I have your granddad’s handbook on the shelf at home! I’ll put it in the mail to you next week!” And, so he did. I had it rebound to match the original black covers that were shelf-worn. It has been with my collection for about 30 years.

W4AEE, eBay listing description

Now it has passed into my care (as the 5th owner) where it will have a special place in my collection. I love the story behind this Handbook as much as I love having it as part of my collection.

Maybe, after a few years or decades, the Handbook will find its way back to Harry’s family. If any of W4AEE’s children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren happen to discover the fun of amateur radio and stumble on this blog post, well, get in touch!