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 is an example of the earliest type of key used by Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail.
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
mahogany (overall material)
overall: 1 1/2 in x 3 in x 6 in; 3.81 cm x 7.62 cm x 15.24 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from Western Union Telegraph Co.
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History