Telegraph Key

Description (Brief)
Telegraph keys are electrical on-off switches used to send messages in Morse code. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. The operator pushes the key’s lever down briefly to make a short signal, a dot, or holds the lever down for a moment to make a slightly longer signal, a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers. This key has a switch on the side called a circuit-closer that takes the key off-line when not in use. The wooden base was made in the museum to display the key. In operation, the key was mounted to a table using the bolts and wingnuts.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph key
date made
ca 1890
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 5 in x 3 in x 6 in; 12.7 cm x 7.62 cm x 15.24 cm
ID Number
EM*222131
catalog number
222131
accession number
41948
subject
Communications
Telegraph Keys
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Manhattan Electric Supply Co.
Additional Media

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