Telegraph Sounder

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Description (Brief)
Telegraph sounders convert electrical pulses into audible sounds and are used to receive Morse code messages. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. Short pulses make a dot, slightly longer pulses make a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers. The pulses energize the sounder’s electromagnets which move a lever-arm. The arm makes a loud “click” when it strikes a crossbar and the operator translates the pattern of sounds into the original language.
This sounder was made using US Patent #92284, issued July 6, 1869 to William Davis of Jersey City, NJ. Davis' idea was to make the sounder produce a "clear tone" by using a hollow resonating chamber made of hard rubber. The chamber can be seen mounted on the base next to the electromagnet. The anvil with its adjusting screws is mounted on top of the chamber. When the lever strikes the anvil the resonating chamber amplifies the sound.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1869
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
overall: 3 3/4 in x 5 1/4 in; 9.525 cm x 13.335 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
from Western Union Corporation
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Sounders
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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