Telegraph Key

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 is a very early strap key used by Joseph Henry in experiments made at the Smithsonian.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph key
date made
ca 1850
user
Henry, Joseph
maker
Chester, Partrick & Co.
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
copper (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 2 1/8 in x 3 1/2 in x 6 in; 5.3975 cm x 8.89 cm x 15.24 cm
ID Number
EM*181441
catalog number
181441
accession number
2006.0177
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Communications
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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