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 has a switch on the side to select which side of a battery to connect to a line, the positive or negative terminal, and is called a pole-changing key.
Currently not on view
Spies Electric Works
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 1 3/4 in x 6 in x 3 1/2 in; 4.445 cm x 15.24 cm x 8.89 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
from Western Union Corporation
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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