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. In operation, the key was mounted to a table using the bolts and wingnuts.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1890
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 3 1/4 in x 2 1/2 in x 5 1/4 in; 8.255 cm x 6.35 cm x 13.335 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
from Western Union Corporation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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