Telegraph Key

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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.
date made
ca 1910
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 1 3/8 in x 2 3/4 in x 5 1/4 in; 3.4925 cm x 6.985 cm x 13.335 cm
ID Number
nonaccession number
catalog number
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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