Telegraph Key

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Description (Brief)
Telegraph keys are electrical switches used to send messages in code. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. This British key was designed for use on underwater telegraph cables. Typical telegraph keys turn the current on and off in the line. This double-current key keeps the battery on the line and reverses the direction of the current flow when the operator presses down on the lever. Setting the small lever to “receive” sends the current to a separate relay instead of through the main section of the key.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1895
Silvertown Telegraph Works
India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
glass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 6 1/4 in x 4 3/4 in x 8 1/4 in; 15.875 cm x 12.065 cm x 20.955 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from ITT World Communications, Inc., thru John Van Ingen
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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