Telegraph Apparatus

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Description (Brief)
This telegraph system is a replica of one of the 1844 units used on Samuel Morse’s line between Baltimore and Washington. The replica includes the key, paper tape reel, and register. Telegraph registers are electrically-activated printers that receive Morse code messages. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. The pulses energize the register’s electromagnets which move a lever-arm holding a pen or stylus. A clockwork mechanism pulls a strip of paper across the pen or stylus, recording the message. Short pulses draw or emboss a dot, slightly longer pulses a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers.
Currently not on view
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
paper (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
copper (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 11 in x 30 in x 7 in; 27.94 cm x 76.2 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
from Western Union Corporation
Communication, telegraph
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Registers
Data Source
National Museum of American History