I thought this was cute. In case NOS (New old stock) tubes dry up, I can always sell NOS sandwiches... Yummm! NOS Sandwiches means "Our Sandwiches." This was a sandwich stand in the south of France.
Tube hunting is tons of work, and a lot of luck. I had a tube T-shirt on while in Paris, and a gentleman walked up to me and asked "do you like tubes? I have this old radio..." etc etc. I have heard my share of old radio stories over the years, and my eyes typically role back into my head after about five minutes.
This time it was different. He shared about an old shop run by a man who does not speak English, does not ship, and does not take checks or credit cards...only cash. But... he has tubes to the ceiling. So I listened. It has turned out to be a fine source and nice man, who gave me a wonderful vintage Marconi radio my last visit.
Here's one of the cooler finds I've picked up from his shop. This is a vacuum sealed can of RCA 6V6s, made in 1953. Each can was coated in wax to keep it from corroding, then every tube individually wrapped so the tubes could be stored in adverse conditions. Just in case the Russkies came to bomb us.
This box says "Valvo, Hamburg." The German military demanded German names on everything they used, even products bought from other countries. As you can see, this is a RCA 5U4G, made in the USA.
This is a master pack of Telefunken EF86/6267, dated as made in February 1966. Very rarely will you see tubes in this condition. The original factory tape was still in place when I got the box, and I almost didn't want to open it, but what the heck. Inside is 100 tubes, individually wrapped and boxed for the military. This is one of the best grade 6267 on the planet.
This is a Mullard E188CC/7308 in a master pack of 100. These sound really phenomenal in certain preamps. As is the case with the British military, brand names rarely appear, but instead there is a factory code which tells us who made the tube. In this case, that code is KB, which means factory, and D, which means Mullard.
On the left are stacks of master packs containing the legendary Genalex KT66. At one time we had a huge stock. Now they are all gone, and unfortunately, we haven't been able to find more. This was actually a rather unique find. The tubes were boxed in sets of 25 for the Australian navy, and were actually factory-matched! They were used in sets of 25 in some submarine equipment. This was confirmed by our Platinum Matching process which showed that each set of 25 tubes were very tightly matched.
Here's an extremely rare find: A master pack of Telefunken ECC83s.This was so cool, I decided not to sell them, as I knew I'd never come across something like this again. Every ECC83 is still wrapped in their original cellophane wrapper.
Here is a stack of master packs containing Mullard CV4004s. These are a military stock 12AX7 made for the British Royal Air Force. You can see a highlight of one of the shipping labels, saying to deliver to "Officer Commanding" at the air base in Carlisle, Cumbria, England. The CV4004 is my favorite 12AX7, having that famous Mullard midband that I love so much. These are a box-plate design, and are extremely well-built.
Here are some Telefunken ECC801S's in original boxes I found in a barn in Europe. Perhaps one of the rarest and most sought after 12AT7s out there. We still have some of these left, but our stocks are dwindling fast.
Master packs of GE and Sylvania 12AX7s. Each box held 200 tubes. These were military stock, and tube is labelled "JAN," which stood for "Joint Army-Navy."
At one point, we had large stocks of both these 1963 GE's and 1961 Sylvanias, but now the Sylvanias are completely gone, and we're just about out of the GE's. They're incredible tubes and I guess people realize it because one second... we had tons of these... the next... POOF!
Here's a box of tubes I came back with from my 2003 tube hunting trip. It was a kind of a "mystery box," since I really didn't get a chance to fully inspect everything before purchasing. As it turned out, the box contained various rectifier tubes and a few 6SN7s.
Perhaps the most unique find in this box were these Mullard 6922's, which are branded as being made in Western Germany! So, I look underneath and sure enough there's a Telefunken diamond in the bottom of the glass. It was very common to see tubes from one manufacturer branded as being from another, but this was the first time I'd ever seen this one.
This is a shipping crate full of master packs of Russian 6H23/6922 tubes. Three Russian factories made nine different types of 6922's in the 70's and 80's. This particular tube is what we call a "Type 3," and are also referred to as a 6H23P-EB. These were made in the mid 80's, and still have all the original Soviet military markings on them. Perhaps one of the quietest, and most durable 6922's we've ever encountered.
A master pack of Visseaux 6V6GT's. When I first found these master packs, we had tons of them available... but we sold through them... fast. For the longest time, I thought we had sold out of this legendary tube. I know it bummed a lot of people out (especially you Fender Deluxe guys). As it turns out, we had a couple more master packs that had been tucked away in our warehouse, and during a recent spring cleaning, we're re-discovered! This tube has been the darling of the 6V6GT community for ages, so if you've been looking for some, we got 'em now... but stock is limited and they're selling quick!
Here's a cool find. On the left is a master pack of 1950's vintage RCA 6V6GT tubes, branded Jewel. I found these in a warehouse in France, where they were just collecting dust. As most folks know, RCA 6V6GT's are very sought after, and very hard to find. These are the real deal, sound great, and test perfectly.
This is a close-up of some Adzam 6SL7's I found during my 2003 tube hunting trip to Europe. These were made in the Philips Holland factory in the 1960's, and have that familial Philips Holland sound: nice airy top end, smooth mids, and a glorious soundstage.
Dennis Had, owner of Cary Audio, came out for a visit the day these came in. He asked if he could buy a pair, then took 'em home and stuck them in a few pieces of gear. He them promptly called back begging me to sell him some more. I had to say no, as I only found a few of these, and I had to have them for customers. The nickel-color make these tubes look as bitchin' as they sound.
During my 2002 tube hunting trip, and again in 2003, I found a huge stash of Mullard 12AT7 tubes. That famous Mullard midband, coupled with a military spec tube, gets you one of the finest 12AT7's on the market.
Some are branded CV4024 (the British military designation for 12AT7), others are branded M8162. They were all sold to the same British Royal Air Force base in Carlisle, Cumbria, England... just like the CV4004s we have pictured above.
This was a very cool find: Small master packs of Radiotechnique 12AU7's. These were made in 1956, which makes them one of the earliest 12AU7 tubes ever made. So far, I have heard tons of different vintages of this tube... most of them suck. Before I found these, only the 1965 vintage would cut the mustard. Then I found these, and they sound spectacular! These are a cousin to the Amperex Bugle Boy, and have very similar sonic characteristics. They have a somewhat different getter shape, and also a smaller plate than the 1965 vintage.