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 has been identified as an early form of the "Triumph Key" made by Bunnell in the late 1880s and intended to address a problem of uneven contact wear in existing keys.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1890
J. H. Bunnell & Co.
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
overall: 5 in x 3 in x 6 in; 12.7 cm x 7.62 cm x 15.24 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from J. H. Bunnell & Co.
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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