Foote Pierson "pony" telegraph relay

Foote Pierson "pony" telegraph relay

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Telegraph relays amplified electrical signals in a telegraph line. Telegraph messages traveled as a series of electrical pulses through a wire from a transmitter to a receiver. Short pulses made a dot, slightly longer pulses a dash. The pulses faded in strength as they traveled through the wire, to the point where the incoming signal was too weak to directly operate a receiving sounder or register. A relay detected a weak signal and used a battery to strengthen the signal so that the receiver would operate.
So-called “pony” relays like this unit made by Foote, Pierson & Co., serviced private lines and shorter branch circuits. The resistance of a given pony relay varied depending on the length of the circuit. This 20 ohm pony relay would have been used on circuits up to about 15 miles in length.
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph relay
date made
ca 1900
Foote, Pierson & Co.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
cast iron (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 2 1/2 in x 6 1/2 in x 3 1/2 in; 6.35 cm x 16.51 cm x 8.89 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from Foote Pierson & Co.
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Relays & Repeaters
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object