Telegraph Register

Description (Brief)
This register, made in London, England, features a paper tape reel that is hidden in the drawer below the printer. The tape passes from the reel, over two wooden rollers, and then through the slit cut in the base plate before being fed into the printer. Presumably this design was used to save space and prevent the paper tape from being accidentally broken. This register was used at the cable station in St. Johns, Newfoundland to record messages received via a submarine telegraph line.
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
date made
ca 1883
Meinrad W. Theiler & Sons
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
copper (overall material)
overall: 8 1/2 in x 12 in x 14 1/2 in; 21.59 cm x 30.48 cm x 36.83 cm
ID Number
accession number
collector/donor number
catalog 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


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