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 key has a switch on the side called a circuit-closer that takes the key off-line when not in use. The so-called humpback design was uesd in early telegraph keys.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
humpback key
telegraph key
date made
ca 1865
maker
Phelps, George M.
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 3 1/2 in x 6 1/4 in x 3 1/8 in; 8.89 cm x 15.875 cm x 7.9375 cm
ID Number
EM*331833
accession number
294351
catalog number
331833
collector/donor number
03-35
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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