Telegraph Sounder

Description (Brief)
Telegraph sounders convert electrical pulses into audible sounds and are used to receive Morse code messages. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. Short pulses make a dot, slightly longer pulses make a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers. The pulses energize the sounder’s electromagnets which move a lever-arm. The arm makes a loud “click” when it strikes a crossbar and the operator translates the pattern of sounds into the original language. This very early sounder, made only a dozen years after Morse's "What Hath God Wrought" message, is ornate and features a marble base plate.
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph receiver
telegraph sounder
date made
ca 1856
Clark, James J.
Physical Description
marble (overall material)
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 5 in x 8 in x 5 in; 12.7 cm x 20.32 cm x 12.7 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Sounders
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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