Discovered by Historian Richard Warren Lipack


Information courtesy of Professor Thomas Perera Ph. D.
Curator: The W1TP.COM Telegraph Museum at web page:

Copyright (c) 2011 Richard Warren Lipack. All Rights Reserved.


This is one of the most significant scientific documents ever discovered.



This notebook remained hidden and unknown for over a century until it was discovered by Historian Richard Warren Lipack.
It contains a wealth of historical information and drawings related to the invention and development of the digital telegraph and numerous other technological innovations by Cooke.


Journal Discoverer and Contact Information


The JOURNAL includes:
Numerous Drawings with Descriptions of Parts & Equipments
for Construction of the Telegraph Apparatus for the: 

3.) The FIRST "ABC" Telegraph equipments in the World
(the true origin of today's keyboards). Further down the page they were replaced
instead with the "ABC DIAL" TELEGRAPH because it had less moving parts.
5.) The FIRST TELEGRAPH KEYS circa 1838-1839
ELECTRIC COILS used for TELEGRAPHS dating between 1837 & 1840
TELEGRAPH BATTERIES - circa 1839 - 1840

*** In addition to the TELEGRAPH-related INVENTIONS, DRAWINGS of the following are also included:

12.) A wooden CAMERA w/LENS dated OCTOBER 1840
(just months after the invention of the DAGUERREOTYPE in FRANCE)

*** Plus many many more fascinating drawings and text too lengthy to describe here detailing a cornucopia of electrical technologies marking man's entrance into the modern world as we know it by one of the most prolific inventor's of the 19th Century - as he developed them for the World. 

These are the builder's drawings themselves executed by the inventor himself;


The JOURNAL was used to guide COOKE'S English machinist KERBY in the construction of much of the first telegraph apparatus for the COOKE & WHEATSTONE partnership.

Today, examples of remnants of COOKE'S great enterprise of telegraphy can be found in museums the world over. However, only a very few patent drawings and letters to Cooke's mother sparsely containing small rudimentary sketches of his early telegraphy concepts, are all that exist in visually graphic form on paper.

This newly discovered journal by SIR WILLIAM. F. COOKE is the "HOLY GRAIL" for the beginnings of ELECTRICAL and ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS and the GENESIS OF THE INTERNET ! 

For more information email: Professor Thomas Perera: admin1 {at}   THANK YOU.

*** The following is a more detailed but still preliminary description of the journal ***


This historic MANUSCRIPT NOTEBOOK / JOURNAL had been brought to the United States
late in 1840 by Sir William Fothergill Cooke's machinist FREDERICK KERBY.
It is a large fancily bound leather & gilt JOURNAL known as CODEX LIPACK
(...named after Richard Warren Lipack, the historian & author who discovered it).

There is a great deal of drama in the progression of all of the circumstances surrounding this Journal, from the day it was created in the 1770's, through to the 1830's and then the 1840's and then into the late 1870's until the original custodian Frederick Kerby's death in 1894 - and finally to its path to being discovered looking like a worthless family scrapbook by author and historian Richard Warren Lipack nearly one hundred years later.  The manuscript was purchased by Lipack in the 1990's from an antiques dealer who could supply no additional information about it.

In addition to its historical and scientific importance, this Journal has had a fascinating life.  It is very vibrant and majestic with the printed golden burnt ochre/orange color trim around each page!

The Journal was created in several stages. Starting out first as an elaborate blank notebook, the initial entries made in 1775 were for a humble "NAAMLYST" ('Name List') for a now defunct scientific society in Amsterdam, the Journal was acquired by COOKE around 1836 likely on a trip to Amsterdam, or acquired from a person perhaps while Cooke was still working in Heidelberg..  He used it to record his discoveries, notes & drawings for the World's first commercial digital TELEGRAPH systems that he devised under his famous partnership with SIR CHARLES WHEATSTONE. The last dated Journal entry by COOKE is April 9th, 1842.

The Journal consists of approximately 95 LEAVES - or 191 pages in total - plus covers. There are also two (2) marblized end sheets attached to the inside of the gilt stamped leather covers, with writing on the front end sheet and the back end sheet having late 1800's news clips concerning local news from where Frederick Kerby and his wife Charlott Kerby lived in Long Island, New York after they came back to America from Canada with the COOKE journal.

According to Richard Warren Lipack, out of the total of 191 journal pages, or leaves, there are approximately 96 pages by SIR WILLIAM F. COOKE which are in his handwriting and which pertain solely to the Telegraph. There are around  20-30 more pages executed by COOKE that are not telegraph related, but related to early overland traction engine and automobile designs,  the invention of photography depicting cameras, an astronomy lecture from 1836 (the earliest entry in Cooke's hand), chemistry experiments,  a quack medical coil and a few other subjects - represented mainly with drawings.

Originally the COOKE journal came with the Kerby's when they left England for America in late 1842.

Kerby may have left England to escape the long winded Cooke - Wheatstone disagreements over the telegraph recognition rights in which COOKE even cited Kerby prominently during the proceedings.  All of this is found published in the "Arbitration papers" and among recent publications on COOKE available in reprint form from the University of Michigan, and quickly found for sale today on the Internet and at

Alternatively, Kerby may have left England to come to America to work with Samuel F. B. Morse as other documents suggest.

By 1844, the Kerby's had left America for Canada where they welcomed the birth of their first daughter, and their second daughter several years later. Then, around the time just after the Civil War in America, the Kerby's - with their daughters - returned to the United States to live in the area of Ronkonkoma, Long Island, New York. This has been established through reference to Canadian and American census records and later obituaries for both Frederick Kerby and his wife Charlot.        


The Journal left London with COOKE'S machinist Kerby when he departed from England in the early 1840's by boat bound for New York City, as reported in one of Charlott Kerby's obituaries.   Kerby's later North American residency in Canada has been established recently by Canadian census records and birth records of his two daughters.  Finally Kerby emigrated with his wife Charlott and two daughters as a family - back to America and settled in the area of Ronkonkoma, Long Island, New York.  Mr. Lipack initially located only the details of a undated published America obituary of Kerby's wife first found in the Journal.  It would be several years later that the computer internet finally allowed for more census records from both England, America and Canada to be found and sorted out by Mr. Lipack.  Mrs. Kerby died in 1906, but this was not known until more recently.   According to the original undated obituary found in the Cooke journal, she was 86 years of age when she died and had lived 62 years abroad.  This means that Kerby's wife was about 24 years of age when she came over to America with her husband Frederick. 


Further details found in this Charlot Kerby obituary regarding the life of Frederick Kerby himself surfaced recently in 2011 after lengthy internet searches by historian Richard Warren Lipack of the names "Kirby & Griswold" that were found in the Cooke journal.  "Kirby & Griswold" was the mercantile firm that Frederick Kerby was stated to have been a partner in - and it was this unassuming little comment in the Charlott Kerby obituary that was found pasted into the Journal that would set off a string of links that were to help authenticate the provenance of the Cooke journal. 


Historian Richard Warren Lipack then conducted an internet search with the words "Kirby & Griswold," which most startlingly revealed a New York Times obituary dated October 17, 1894 for "F. A. Kirby."  In the obituary it was stated that Kirby was "...a electrician, at one time associated with Prof. Morse" and had "died suddenly of heart failure in his home in Sayville, L.I."  Confirming his country of birth, the obituary also said, "Mr. Kirby was born in London, England and was at one time a member of the firm Kirby & Griswold of Lakeland."  


Interestingly, "Kirby" had changed his name from the correct spelling of "Kerby," AND - no mention what-so-ever was made in the obituary of his important and lengthy work while he was under the employment of Cooke and Wheatstone.  Only his 'one time association with Samuel Morse,' inventor of the American telegraph system was reported.   "Kirby's"/ Kerby's association with both Cooke & Wheatstone and then his  later association with Professor Morse in America adds a new twist of intrigue to the fascinating discovery of Cooke's 'lost' but now 'found' Journal.  Did Frederick Kerby change his name to cover-up his new found alliance with Prof. Morse from Cooke, the latter who was embroiled in his many-year- long bitter lawsuit with Professor Wheatstone? 


This new information surrounding the Cooke - Kerby & Wheatstone saga will be of considerable interest to historians and will undoubtedly lead to a more complete understanding of the lives and work of these men.   


Importantly, this JOURNAL was used primarily to formulate the 1840 TELEGRAPH PATENT awarded COOKE & WHEATSTONE for the apparatus and systems used on the July 1840 launched the LONDON & BLACKWALL RAILWAY installation and "ABC" telegraph.   The LONDON & BLACKWALL installation and the "ABC" telegraph systems comprised the very first use of a perfected digital commercial electric telegraph communication systems anywhere in he World!  Some designs for previous and experimental apparatus by Cooke are also included.  

And both inventors have signed this extraordinary JOURNAL! 





Here is a rather detailed but still preliminary general synopsis regarding the 1836-1842 Sir William Fothergill Cooke Telegraph Journal. Many hundreds of additional details need to be examined.


Mr. Lipack has explained that the actual pages of the Journal mainly include drawings; some very very detailed, some with medium details - and some just being sketches with or with-out significant details.  Many are very elaborate and many are with brief but significant content such as electrical circuit paths between equipment (on a line) and details within equipment - such as electro-magnet coil configurations, etc. - some labeled and some unlabeled. And of course, there are some very mundane drawings of details of control handles and brackets to hold same. Some drawings are of mere screw shapes and thread configurations, etc. And then some are just quick notes about certain aspects of telegraph construction and calculation. Most pages are executed in ink, while some are in pencil as well, and some drawings are in both mediums of ink and pencil. And there are some pages of writing and notes - but mostly everything consists of drawings along with some sketches - with many having two or three drawings to a page. 

Richard Warren Lipack discovered that several pages that are signed in ink by Cooke himself include a variety of addresses also inscribed in his own hand.  Mr. Lipack noted that in the early years of the telegraph's development, Cooke moved around often and his addresses match some of those seen in the now published letters he wrote to his mother in the late 1830's, Cooke gives his various addresses with the dates he wrote from those actual addresses to his mother. This corroboration between the dated addresses found on the letters to his mother, with the various addresses found in the Cooke journal with his personal signatures, substantiate or zero-in more closely as to the date or time period of the page that they are written on, as found in the Cooke Journal. Thus Richard Warren Lipack has developed  an effective way to date many of the undated drawings found in the Cooke journal and to determine when certain aspects of his telegraph patents were actually first formulated!

The exact number of all of the drawings has not been assessed, but there appear to be between 100 and 150 different separate executions in all, and more if we include all of the technologies treated within the Journal.

The Journal Entries (Evolving Descriptions)

The pages include detailed drawings of telegraph mechanism escapements - some with electrical coils shown; assorted "ABC" telegraph receiver assemblies; various details of signal lever handles for the telegraph assemblies; almost a dozen multiple drawings, including coils and circuits pertaining to the "Blackwall Railway" 5-needle Telegraph; notations and discussions of a problem with the "Blackwall Railway" installation dated July 1st and 2nd of the year 1840 with notes and with WM  F. COOKE'S signatures shown twice on this page as well.  

This topmost name entered on this above mentioned page is COOKE'S actual signature and asserts "ORDERS"  to Kerby addressing problems with the "Blackwall Railway" line - and repairs that COOKE apparently asked to have made - and below, next to Kerby's initials "F.K" written by COOKE is COOKE'S signature again near a notation for the referenced July 2, 1840 repair.

Richard Warren Lipack has provided the following photograph of this actual Cooke journal page, shown here by Professor Perera in his virtual telegraph museum and website page for the first time anywhere! 

A page from Cooke's journal in his handwriting
and an Exemplar letter by Cooke for handwriting comparison.

Shown above are handwriting samples executed by William Fothergill Cooke across a span of 39 years. The center example dates from November 30, 1836 and represents the earliest dated entry in Cooke's journal, i.e. Codex Lipack.

The sample of Cooke's handwriting shown above and to the left dates from May 30, 1838 and is part of a letter Cooke wrote to Mrs. Sophia Brunel Hawes, sister to Isambard Kingdom Brunel - the man on whose Great Western Railway Cooke had installed the world's first permanent telegraph system. The example of handwriting to the right that dates from January 2, 1877 is from a letter Cooke executed near the end of Cooke's life, written to the electrical engineer and telegraph historian Latimer Clark.

Comparing the word "with" in each of the handwriting samples, one can see conclusively that all three examples shown essentially match in many aspects including their flow and delineation. Hence, one can clearly assert authenticity, establishing that Codex Lipack is in fact Cooke's journal and that the writing within the journal was penned by none other than William Fothergill Cooke himself.

Another entry which has an address for COOKE
and his signature displays drawings with respect to electrical configurations that Kerby was expected to follow and build.   There is yet another page with Cooke's name and address - which will be described in more detail later in this summary.

Also on the "Blackwall Railway" page of July 1st & 2nd, 1840  is a wonderful drawing of the lever mechanism and circuit contact parts assembly as it works in relationship to this lever handle.  Another page dated "July 1840" signed by COOKE shows an 'ABC' dial and a needle assembly annotated as for the "Blackwall Railway" installation. And  there are other "Blackwall Railway" -related installation drawings and one which has a signature of a person who may have been a "Blackwall Railway" official - signing off on a large body of text by COOKE and on the other side - showing another drawing for a "Blackwall Railway" designated assembly. All in all - according to historian Richard Warren Lipack -
  about a dozen pages pertain to the "Blackwall Railway" installation of 1840.

Several other pages are probably related directly to the Blackwall Railway installation, but they are undated and they are not annotated with any "Blackwall Railway" word references on said pages, but certain circuit or coil arrangements may match.

It is most fascinating to note that the "Blackwall Railway" sprang forth out of the catalyst created by Cooke and Wheatstone for the "Five-Dial" needle telegraph lever control system to run the London and Blackwall Railway's July 6th launch. This same Blackwall Railway was also a key pivotal point in the development of the "ABC" telegraph technology.

The following year, 1841, would become witness to an "ABC" type print wheel being perfected by Cooke and Wheatstone. This preceded the later stock ticker print mechanisn of three decades later! But it had the "ABC" communications form which had its start at the time of the July 1840 London and Blackwall Railway installation. This period was essentially when two separate systems were set in to motion and operated at the same time - and all for two separate applications! One was for signalling "Stop" and "Ready" to the train run along the cable activated rail line, while the "ABC" system was for sending message communications of spelled-out words from one point to another.

Then there are some pages of telegraph calculations and also what appears to be a page for Kerby's wage calculations, ...but could alternatively be for material costs. Several entries for material costs have been found through-out the Journal. One page with a side view of the gearing used in a telegraph sender is dated "September 1839."

Also the word "Alarums" (as in alarms or bells) is found on several pages.  These pages that show drawings and discussions of Cooke’s invention of the telegraph “alarum” are also important components of the Cooke Journal and notebook since these “alarums” came to be widely used in railroad applications. And it was a major subject of Cooke's argument against Wheatstone his partner - when the 'question' arose during Cooke and Wheatstone's infamous "Arbitration" argument over proprietary interests in the telegraph patented between them.
Many more pages are dated.  And many pages are not dated - but are self evident to be in the 1839-1840 period due to their sequence in the journal. The earliest dated entry is November 30, 1836. It is unrelated to telegraphy - as those from this period are about an Astronomy class that COOKE attended likely in London, and possibly one conducted by Prof. William Ritchie, who has even signed the journal page which has three or four Cooke signatures and the signature of "Prof. Wheatstone - Kings College." It might also have been entered while Cooke was visiting Heidelberg, although it has been reported that Cooke was there only until the spring of 1836.  This fact argues more towards supporting the Prof. Ritchie connection, Mr. Lipack says.  The most recent page in the journal accomplished by Cooke, incidentally, is dated "April 9, 1842" and is telegraph-related.

There is also an extraordinary COOKE-executed chart with mathematical equations plotting the vibration created by pendulum swings entitled; "Length of Pendulum to Vibrate Seconds at every Fifth degree of Latitude."  These are for large clock pendulums, but may have been recorded observations of same made by COOKE to apply perhaps on a smaller scale to telegraphic escapements?  This examination appears to be from the time of COOKE'S work on the telegraph.

Please further note that the discussion on 'pendulum swing created vibrations' by COOKE is interesting in that in 1835, Wheatstone had envisioned the use of "mechanical vibration" as is stated in "Charles Wheatstone:  Encyclopedia - Charles Wheatstone" as follows:

"Wheatstone abandoned his idea of transmitting intelligence by the mechanical vibration of rods, and took up the electric telegraph. In 1835 he lectured on the system of Baron Schilling, and declared that the means were already known by which an electric telegraph could be made of great service to the world."
And also drawn from "Charles Wheatstone:  Encyclopedia - Charles Wheatstone" where it is stated:

"In 1840 Wheatstone had patented an alphabetical telegraph, or, 'Wheatstone A-B-C instrument,' which moved with a step-by-step motion, and showed the letters of the message upon a dial. The same principle was utilized in his type-printing telegraph, patented in 1841. This was the first apparatus which printed a telegram in type. It was worked by two circuits, and as the type revolved, a hammer actuated by the current, pressed the required letter on the paper. In 1840 Wheatstone also brought out his magneto-electrical machine for generating continuous currents, and his chronoscope, for measuring minute intervals of time, which was used in determining the speed of a bullet or the passage of a star. In this apparatus an electric current actuated an electro-magnet, which noted the instant of an occurrence by means of a pencil on a moving paper. It is said to have been capable of distinguishing 1/7300 part of a second (137 microsecond), and the time a body took to fall from a height of one inch (25 mm)."

The development of the "'Wheatstone A-B-C instrument,' which moved by a step-by-step motion, and showed the letters of the message upon a dial," is the primary defacto essence of the Journal in discussion herein.

The Journal is the 'Holy Grail' to the true essence of this study and primary notion - predating the "1840 Wheatstone" patent for his "alphabetical telegraph."

Further, the on-line article states:

"On November 26, 1840, he exhibited his electro-magnetic clock in the library of the Royal Society, and propounded a plan for distributing the correct time from a standard clock to a number of local timepieces. The circuits of these were to be electrified by a key or contact-maker actuated by the arbour of the standard, and their hands corrected by electro-magnetism. The following January Alexander Bain took out a patent for an electro-magnetic clock, and he subsequently charged Wheatstone with appropriating his ideas. It appears that Bain worked as a mechanist to Wheatstone from August to December, 1840, and he asserted that he had communicated the idea of an electric clock to Wheatstone during that period; but Wheatstone maintained that he had experimented in that direction during May. Bain further accused Wheatstone of stealing his idea of the electro-magnetic printing telegraph; but Wheatstone showed that the instrument was only a modification of his own electro-magnetic telegraph.

The COOKE entries and drawings in this Journal, with dates for some of the telegraphic clock escapements should settle this question once and for all and allow Mr. Bain to rest in peace, quietly.  Kerby, with several years experience under his belt working for Cooke & Wheatstone - clearly seems to have made this apparatus prior to Mr. Bain - and this Journal executed by WM. F. COOKE should bring closure to this notion.   Mr. Bain's name is nowhere to be found in this Journal, - and certainly Kerby, was the main machinist for the Cooke & Wheatstone concern - which Wm. F. Cooke recollected to Latimer Clark shortly before COOKE died. This recollection is now in the New York City Public Library Special Collections and available upon proper notice - and it is discussed in the published Cooke and Wheatstone 'Arbitration' proceedings themselves. 

There is also mention on two different pages of the Journal
of the well known Prof. Ritchie - the U.K. King's College Professor of Natural Philosophy.

Of the nearly dozen or so "Blackwall Railway" installation-related pages, there are a few with just text - and there are five pages of drawings showing the infamous "5-Dial" telegraph system for the "Blackwall Railway."  The drawings show five "5-Dial" telegraph cabinet assemblies. This reveals apparently that the "five needles" used in total between the "5-Dial" cabinet configurations premiered on the London Blackwall Railroad installation, must have represented that 5 telegraph stations were in place on the line.

The journal also contains brief mention of the "Great Western Railway" installation (owned by ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL), the "British Queen" installation.  The "Minories" installation that is well documented in the modern U.K. histories on the telegraph is also mentioned.   It appears as though the "Blackwall Railway" installation was key to Wheatstone's "ABC" telegraph patent of 1840, which was issued towards the end of that year..

What is interesting to note, is that in 1840, the sewing machine was not really in use - and people had their clothes made by a seamstress or by their wife or daughter at home. In France, just over the English Channel, a patent for a chain stitching sewing machine was awarded to Barthelemy Thimonnier in 1830 and in 1841, a year after Wheatstone's "ABC" telegraph was introduced, the French government had Barthelemy Thimonnier get 80 machines up and running and stitching army uniforms in a Paris shop for the French military. However, an angry mob of tailors, sure that the machines would rob them of their livelihood, stormed the Thimonnier factory and destroyed all of his machines.  The Frenchman was almost killed in the melee and fled Paris. He settled in Etienne nearly penniless.  Eventually Thirmonnier found backing and built his business again making sewing machines in 1845. But by 1848, the French Revolution killed his business and when he passed away in 1857, Thirmonnier died in poverty.

Thus, this Journal, historian Richard Warren Lipack points out, was created in a time of great technical insufficiency as it was, before the introduction of the sewing machine.  It marks a time in man's great epoch that was still in the throes of its basic development into the modern technological world that we have today - and this Journal embodies this great time of invention more cohesively than any other extant document. The genesis of the Internet and telegraphic communication and the electric typewriter; the two passenger personal
automobile with steering wheel and the camera in its the first year of existence - all live in this remarkable manuscript Journal - written when people were essentially still hand stitching clothing!

Besides the Sir Charles Wheatstone King's College signature in the frontis, there are the several other pages with WM. F. COOKE signatures and some with his varying addresses.  As stated before, COOKE moved several times during his work on the telegraph - borrowing monies from his mother and father often to keep him afloat.  Over half a dozen "COOKE" names (which constitute his signature), have been found in the Journal, but there may be a few others, as three or four more were just recently 'found hiding' by Mr. Lipack on the one frontis page with Professor Ritchie's and Wheatstone's signatures!  There is a lot of material, some going off in different directions executed at different times on the same page. 

Then there are a few pages of details of screws and other small parts and some very fine drawings of details pertinent to the "ABC" dials and such prior to the patent application for same. There is a great deal of historic material and very wonderful drawings in great detail. Some are actually quite amazing.

Beyond these 96 or so pages on the telegraph, Richard Warren Lipack explains that there are maybe ten pages of notes with Kerby family member names mixed-in with other data; about five or six pages of automobiles and steam driven vehicle drawings circa 1840; three or four pages showing circa 1840 cameras / lens configurations (one that is a camera made of wood dated Oct 26, 1840); one page of a simple flint lock gun part; one page showing a battery driven medical quack battery coil with a price shown in Canadian or American dollars as opposed to English pounds - circa mid-late 1840's; and the one aforementioned early partially executed page dated Nov. 30, 1836 of a college astronomy lecture COOKE took in, in Cooke's hand. 


Two other pages  in the Journal found later, of actually the same identical Astronomy lecture having the same identical "Nov. 30, 1836" date as entered  before,  constitute a totally completed and executed lecture produced by Cooke with descriptions and a full treatment of super detailed drawings .

The important handwriting exemplars recently obtained by Mr. Lipack revealed that all of these entries of "November 30, 1836" are completely in the hand of SIR WILLIAM F. COOKE,  but they are in a much smaller and finer handwriting than all of the other examples of COOKE'S handwriting found in the Journal.

Perhaps this is because COOKE was exercising more care and pride in making his first entry into his newly acquired Journal now that he was back in London? It might have been months after Cooke arrived back in the Spring of 1836, before Cooke even found the blank old "Naamlyst" Journal in his travels. Perhaps he found it in a second-hand book shop, or maybe even in Amsterdam proper, from where it originally came. There is no way of telling, but the Journal began life in 1775 - the year before the colony of America would become an independent country from under British Rule.

This Astronomy lecture is most significant, as it shows magnificently detailed drawings by SIR WILLIAM COOKE which include that of astronomical representations and also that of an planetary orrery.  This Astronomy lecture entry is the VERY FIRST DATED ENTRY by COOKE found in the Journal, and appears to be COOKE'S earliest entry as well - according to historian Richard Warren Lipack.  

Since he was born in 1806, this 'Astronomy' lecture entry of late 1836 was made by the young SIR WILLIAM COOKE when he was thirty years old and attending earlier in the winter of that year, the college lectures on anatomy at the University of Heidelberg.  While there in Heidelberg, COOKE, the student, studied the craft of wax anatomical model making. It was this avocation and discipline, as an artist making fine human sculpture out of colored wax, that COOKE had elected to learn. COOKE'S father, a prestigious doctor in London,  had sent him to the University at Heidelberg, and paid his student expenses as well so that his young son WILLIAM FOTHERGILL would better aid in his father's lectures on medicine and surgery back in London - by supplying his wonderful anatomical wax sculptures to teach young surgeons and doctors of the city.

But it was also in Heidelberg, earlier in 1836, around March of that year, that WM. F. COOKE by chance attended a telegraphy demonstration. It was at this time that the physics professor at the Heidelberg University introduced COOKE to the Schilling telegraph and it's intriguing trappings.  It was this day that would profoundly change the course of WM. FOTHERGILL COOKE'S path and mission in life, forever.

Following this profound first 'astronomical' entry, one starts to see the wholly intrepid development of the first commercial digital electro-magnetic telegraph system ever developed. This Journal sounds the birth of modern electronic communications and the genesis of the Internet. And this long lost notebook journal is a magnum opus draft folio marking it's creation by the most prolific inventor and co-patentee of the new modern electronic era. An era that stood before this great epoch of human development and international culturalexpansion.  

Then there are about three to four pages in COOKE'S hand on personal experiments conducted on chemistry for developing batteries to run the telegraph equipments; two  pages by COOKE discussing his investigation into perpetual motion (for telegraph ALARUM escapements?) and then there are two or three pages showing details of a mechanical pantograph needed to make mathematically accurate reductions for making parts.  Price calculations for parts needed to make telegraph power batteries to run the telegraph system are also included on one or two pages.

A drawing of a dial and calculations for 'four dials for the "Blackwall Railway" also appear on one page.  Another page shows a standardized machining characteristic chart by COOKE for cutting brass gears, pinions, etc. and for making other telegraph mechanism assemblies.

On the one page about the 'four dials' COOKE writes above the simple dial drawing: "Size of the four [or two] dials for the speaking Instruments of the Blackwall Railway - Inches 21.1/2 x inches 21.1/2" and cost computations are entered - totaling a sum figure arriving at "L 114.0.8."

Some pages are mixtures of scribbles and seemingly undecipherable notations mixed with the Kerby familial data (brother's address - some for cousins perhaps?) and /or also business contacts of COOKE'S, it seems. 


The use of the KERBY family name throughout the Journal and the initials "F.K." are used often and Mr. Lipack believes now that it appears to have been a manner employed to SAFEGUARD the true purpose of the Journal from unsuspecting eyes.  During the progression of time that COOKE spent drawing parts and assemblies he needed Kerby to make, COOKE would have needed to LEAVE the Journal at Kerby's workshop for the work to actually be executed. 

Although James Watt had invented a rudimentary copy machine employing a 'roller press' of sorts in the late 1700's, it was still not practical for Cooke to employ here to produce and 'drop off' and give Kerby 'copies' of his designs to work from - as his Journal was a bound work and not at the time separate sheets of 'copy paper' that he would have worked on!

Thus, looking back to the "F.K" and "Kerby" name, now known to be in Cooke's hand and found on many of the Journal's pages: Lipack reasons that if COOKE'S name was emblazoned all over the Journal page's, and some unsuspecting eye came across the open Journal on Kerby's workbench, the true nature of the Journal would have been revealed and the secrecy of its innovations put into jeopardy. By 1838 - AFTER the first telegraph patent was issued on June 12, 1837, COOKE'S name had great notoriety!  So, placing Kerby's name on most all of the Journal pages was for Cooke, really more a written directive directed 'to' the machinist "Frederick Kerby," or more simply, "F.K." In this manner the abundance of Kerby's name and that of family members, safeguarded COOKE'S notoriety. And in addition, it also SAFEGUARDED the Journal's true essence from unsuspecting eyes that could have happened upon it by accident!


Many pages by COOKE give Kerby's address at "12 Spann's Building" (Presumably this is near King's College - as Kerby's father, Francis Kerby was associated with the keeping and/or making scientific models there).

Also in his own writing, COOKE makes reference to the words "Philosophical Instrument Maker."     WM. F. COOKE's autograph signature is found on the other side of this page leaf - and it seems that an English pound wage price paid is notated here, as well.  A few pages show galvanometer designs and circuits. Another page shows an address for a "W. Kerby"  at "2 Kensington Place, Vauxhall."

All in all, excluding the approx. 7 leaves (14 pages recalled by Mr. Lipack), from the 1700's Amsterdam society "NAAMLYST," there are approximately 150 pages with drawings and notes on them - ALL by COOKE. Some names of those entered in to the Journal may be college professors.  And there are a few men of mark or notable lesser grade scientists, with addresses, etc. - included in these pages -  like the name: "Prof. Ritchie"  Other names may or may not pertain to the early telegraph.  More research is needed here.   There might be 10-15 pages in the 191 page Journal that are blank, maybe less. Some may have a few words on them or a number or two. And as has been noted, there are about 96 pages of the 150 pages that pertain to the telegraph. A few more pages show detailed drawings of electro-magnet coil assemblies and circuits. with the words "magnets" written by COOKE several times. 


This document is clearly of great historical importance not only for the material it contains but also for the insights it will provide to researchers who wish to obtain a better understanding of the inventive process as it pertains to the development of the telegraph and all forms of electrical communications that have evolved from these beginnings.

Many noted scholars have highlighted the near-total absence of technical information and documentation dealing with the evolution and earliest beginnings of digital electrical communications. John Liffen is the curator of communications at London's Science Museum and perhaps the most noted authority on early telegraph communications. In his 2010 article entitled "The Introduction of the Electric Telegraph in Britain, a Reappraisal of the work of Cooke and Wheatstone" and in his lectures, Mr. Liffen repeatedly noted the absence of detailed information on technical aspects of Cooke and Wheatstone's inventions and installations. In his 1965 book on Cooke and Wheatstone, Gregory Hubbard made many similar statements.

Mr. Liffen also stated in his 2010 paper published in the Journal of the Newcomen Society in Great Britain that "...the history of its [the telegraph] introduction and development has not been well told. Successive historians have tended to copy what previous books have said, rather than carry out new research." Mr. Liffen made similar statements in his 2007 formal lecture before the Newcomen Society. This lack of detailed information is not due to the fact that the information was not recorded but rather that it was lost in the time since these inventions and discoveries were made. No amount of research can produce documents that have been lost or destroyed.

The discovery of Sir William Fothergill Cooke's lost journal was due to an exceptionally astute inspection by Richard Warren Lipack. Many people had seen the journal and passed it by as a worthless scrapbook and it's purchase and the subsequent removal of the overlay of newsprint has provided historians and scholars with an unprecedented opportunity to fill in major missing parts of the jigsaw puzzle of early research.

After 100 years the secrets buried in the journal are starting to be analyzed and they are providing some important and very unexpected insights such as the fact that Kerby, Cooke's machinist was listed as having become associated with Samuel Morse immediately after he left England for America and the appearance of the first digital 'finger keys' in the Cooke journal slightly before the 'finger key' appeared in the notes of Alfred Vail, Morse's associate.

In addition to the contributions to knowledge of the history of telegraphy, Cooke's journal will ultimately provide additional areas of information. With the information gleaned from measurements shown and described in the Journal - some surviving physical telegraphic instruments residing in museums primarily in Europe today, can now be matched with actual written and drawn descriptions found in the journal to reveal some hitherto unknown links between them.

Many historians have commented on the lack of detailed and technical information about the early development of the telegraph by Cooke and Wheatstone. This discovery of Cooke's extraordinary and previously unknown journal provides many of these missing details. The preceding material shows the extraordinary amount of information in this journal that is now ready and waiting to be digitized, and made available to historians in the years to come.

Journal Discoverer and Contact Information

Richard Warren Lipack
is an internationally known expert on early telegraphy, scientific instruments, autographs and ephemera. He has been collecting and researching early telegraph, scientific and technological instruments for over 40 years.
His interest in autographs and ephemera began back in the late 1970's when he handled the majority of the basement collection at Glenmont, the New Jersey home and estate of American inventor Thomas Alva Edison. This collection primarily included the former Thomas A. Edison Co's corporate documents.
Mr. Lipack has consulted on and supplied antiques and artifacts to many private collections and museums the world over, with Harvard University Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among the institutions. He is the author of a book on 20th century American and English culture and the development of the modern music genres between same. In the 1970's he worked closely with the estate of Brian Epstein, who was the manager of the music group the Beatles.

Thomas B. Perera Ph. D. is Professor Emeritus at Montclair State University and former Visiting Professor at Columbia University.
He received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1968 and has taught and conducted research in the fields of neuroscience, brain coding, and computerized instruction.
He has been collecting and researching telegraph and scientific instruments for over 58 years.
He has written:
The only Telegraph Collectors Guidebook ever published:
An extensive Telegraph Collectors Reference Library CD-ROM:
And he has presented numerous telegraph lectures and demonstrations throughout the world.
He maintains an extensive on-line virtual telegraph museum at:
...and a virtual Enigma cipher machine museum at:
...and two virtual Scientific Instrument Museums at Columbia and Montclair State Universities.
He is a member of many scientific organizations including the Society for the History of Technology and the Newcomen Society.

For additional information email Professor Thomas Perera:
admin1 {at}