Can You Hear Me Now? Currency and QSL

A Central Bank of China $5.00 note used as a QSL card by Capt. H.J. Olson. Olson was with the US Navy in Shanghai in 1946.

Amateur radio enthusiasts take pride in their ability to send to and receive transmissions from distant locations. Since radio transmissions are transitory, they needed a way to document that these long distance communications occurred. The QSL card was developed in the 1920s to do this.

Captain A. N. Braude of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps used this unfinished Japanese printed note for Hong Kong as a QSL card in 1948. Braude was taken prisoner in 1941 and liberated in 1945.

A QSL card is usually a post card that includes at least the following information: (1) the call sign of both stations, (2) the time and date (usually using UTC), (3) the radio band used, (4) the mode of transmission and (5) a signal report.

Romanian 500 lei note used as a QSL card by Anton Hapsburg, Archduke of Austria, while living in Romania in 1947. Hapsburg was an ardent amateur radio enthusiast who insisted on being referred to by the shorthand Kai-Ho an abbreviation for the German Kaiserlicher Hoheit (Imperial Highness).

The name “QSL card” comes from the Q code “QSL”. Q codes are a type of shorthand used in radio transmissions. QSL means “I acknowledge receipt of your transmission.” As a question, QSL? means “Can you acknowledge receipt of my transmission?”

QSL cards are frequently customized to highlight information about the sender or where the sender lives. Industry publications included the names and call signs of hobbyists looking for connections and willing to confirm communication with a QSL card.

Thousands of different QSL cards have been produced. A few of these have been made on paper money and are interesting crossover collectibles for these two hobbies.

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