Telegraph Register

Description (Brief)
We do not know for certain who made this ornate telegraph register, only that the Delaware & Hudson Company’s Transportation Department used it on their railroad. Telegraph equipment maker J. H. Bunnell and Company donated the register to the Smithsonian in 1901 and may have been the maker, but the piece lacks the Bunnell stamping that usually appears on their products.
Telegraph registers are electrically-activated printers that receive Morse code messages. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. The pulses energize the register’s electromagnets which move a lever-arm holding a pen or stylus. A clockwork mechanism pulls a strip of paper across the pen or stylus, recording the message. Short pulses draw or emboss a dot, slightly longer pulses a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers.
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph receiver
telegraph register
date made
ca 1860
Physical Description
copper (overall material)
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 6 1/2 in x 8 in x 13 in; 16.51 cm x 20.32 cm x 33.02 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Communication, telegraph
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Registers
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from J. H. Bunnell & Co.
Additional Media

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