Brownson telegraph repeater patent model

Telegraph repeaters amplified electrical signals in a telegraph line. Telegraph messages traveled as a series of electrical pulses through a wire from a transmitter to a receiver. Short pulses made a dot, slightly longer pulses a dash. The pulses faded in strength as they traveled through the wire, limiting the distance a message could travel. Repeaters remedied that problem by detecting a weak signal and using a local power source to re-energize and re-transmit the signal down the line.
This model was submitted to the U.S. Patent Office by inventor Walter Brownson of Wellsville, Ohio, along with his patent application. In June 1868 he received patent #78573 for his "new and improved Telegraphic Apparatus." This object appears in the patent as figure 5. The switch seen on the base opposite the electromagnets pivots an insulated plate "to cut out at pleasure both the main circuit and the second local from the circuit." Though Brownson designed the unit, the armature has the marking of L. G. Tillotson of New York, a well-known telegraph instrument maker.
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph repeater
telegraph relay
date made
L. G. Tillotson & Co.
Brownson, Walter G.
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
steel (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 3 in x 6 1/8 in x 4 1/2 in; 7.62 cm x 15.5575 cm x 11.43 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Telegraph Relays & Repeaters
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Relays & Repeaters
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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