Telegraph Sounder

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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
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
Credit Line
from Western Union Telegraph Co.
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Sounders
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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