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MISCELANEOUS TELEGRAPH & RELATED: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (9901-9999)

Many items and documents related to the electric telegraph are shown below.

(The instruments are in approximate chronological order: Oldest first.)
* = (Items no longer owned.) ** = (Items in other collections.)

9905 BOXED SET OF SAMUEL F.B. MORSE MEMORABILIA: 11 Pictures, articles, patents, and letters. All are excellent copies.

9910 EARLY VISITING CARD SHOWING 19th CENTURY TELEGRAPHER AND TELEGRAPH EQUIPMENT:(19KB)This is an interesting view of an early telegrapher with two box relays in position on the table in front of him.

These early cards were issued to The Honorable Daniel Smiley of the Board of Indian Commissioners to allow him to use the services of Western Union and Postal Telegraph-Cable Companies without paying for the telegrams and to have the telegrams billed to the government at the special government rates. The Western Union card is signed by Thomas Vail, President of Western Union and the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company card is signed by Clarence H. McKay, President of the company.


9915 ADVERTISING CARD FOR NATIONAL TELEGRAPH INSTITUTE:(24KB) This card promises wonderful salaries of $70 per month or more.

9915a The reverse side shows the morse characters:(22KB

9925 * BOXED PIECE OF THE 1858 TRANSATLANTIC CABLE:(20KB) This is a 4-1/2 inch section of cable with brass label reading "ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLE Guaranteed by Tiffany & Co. Broadway, New York. 1858". In wooden box stamped Original Transatlantic Cable. 1858. Guaranteed by Tiffany & Co.
(This cable is now in the Samuel F. B. Morse Museum, Poughkeepsie, NY.)

9925a Closer view of the cable section:(23KB)

9925b Close-up view of end of cable showing layers:(8KB)

Tiffany sold the cable sections in the box accompanied by a certificate of authenticity in the form of a letter dated: New York. Aug. 21st, 1858. "This is to certify that I have sold the balance of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable now on board of the USS "Niagra" to Tiffany & Co. Jewelers of 550 Broadway of this city and that the piece which accompanies this is a genuine section thereof." Cyrus W. Fields." "Entered According to Act of Congress AD 1858 by Tiffany & Co. in the Clk's office of the dist Ct of the S dist of N.Y."

9925c The letter which accompanied the cable:(29KB)

9925d A 75dpi scan of the letter / certificate:(41KB)

9925e A BIG, slow loading 300dpi scan of the letter:(116KB)

9925f The box and cover shown alone:(23KB)

9925g A closer view of the cover of the box:(23KB)

9925h The box alongside a copy of the letter:(23B)

9935 EARLY FRENCH SUBMARINE TELEGRAPH CABLE:(7KB) It was customary to preserve several lengths of each submarine telegraph cable in a way that would allow the cable to be displayed. This usually involved wrapping the cable with brass bands to keep it from unraveling and stripping it so that the individual layers could be seen. This cable was laid from France to England in the 1870's and is an interesting example of early telegraph cable design.

9935a A closeup view of the layers of the cable:(8KB)

9935b A closeup view of the base of the cable:(24KB)

9940 EARLY COMMEMORATIVE SIEMENS-HALSKE SUBMARINE TELEGRAPH CABLE:(13KB) When a submarine telegraph cable was laid to connect two countries, it was generally a momentous occasion. Several pieces of this cable were generally saved and made into museum and display pieces to commemorate the laying of the cable. This process usually involved applying a metal band to one end of the cable, peeling back the other end to display the internal layers and construction, and signing the metal band with the maker's name.
This is a commemorative piece of a submarine telegraph cable which was laid over 120 years ago to connect France and England. It was manufactured by Siemens and Halske whose name appears on the metal band. They were makers of many kinds of telegraph apparatus. It has a heavy protective outer wrapping of 12 thick steel cables to protect it from damage from rocks on the bottom. This outer wrapping is covered with a light protective winding of tar- impregnated hemp and another layer of hemp protects the three conductors in the center of the cable and their insulation which consists of Gutta Percha, a sap found in certain trees. This is a very early cable which does not have the protective layer of copper sheeting used to protect the gutta percha insulation from the torado worms on the ocean floor. These worms tunnel into the gutta percha and rapidly short out the insulation and virtually all cables laid after the 1870's had this additional protection.

9940a A close-up view of the bottom of the cable showing the construction and layers:(42KB)

9940b A close-up view of the manufacturer's name engraved into the metal band at the end of the cable:(33KB)

9950 RECOVERED PIECES OF AN EARLY SUBMARINE TELEGRAPH CABLE:(46KB) This early cable was laid between Florida and Cuba and recovered by Tom Perera in 1997 on a diving expedition. (See story and other pictures and cables referenced in main museum pages as follows:)

9970 ** MURRAY WILLER, VE3FRX DEMONSTRATES THE USE OF 'TELEGRAPH FLAG SIGNALS' AT THE 2001 AWA ANNUAL CONFERENCE:(33KB) Murray Willer has been collecting and studying light signalling devices for many years and here he demonstrates the proper use of signal flags.


9975 ** MURRAY WILLER, VE3FRX DEMONSTRATES A VERY EARLY OIL-BURNING SIGNAL LAMP AT THE 2001 AWA ANNUAL CONFERENCE:(34KB) Murray Willer specializes in light signalling devices and here he shows a very early signal light. As you can see in the next picture, moving the lever causes the cylinders around the wicks to move up and down and exposes more or less of the wick to oxygen, thus controlling the intensity of the light.

9975a ** A Close-up view of the signal light:(35KB)

9980 THE PRESIDENT'S PRIVATE TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH BUREAU AT THE WHITE HOUSE - 1906 POSTCARD:(27KB) This postcard postmarked Dec 1, 1906 was sent from a New York address. It has a photograph of the 'President's Private Telephone & Telegraph Bureau, White House, Washington, D. C.

9980a A higher-resolution view of the photo:(113KB)

9985 * EXTREMELY UNUSUAL WESTERN UNION CEREMONIAL TELEGRAPH SET:This unsusual set was built by Western Union and used at major ceremonies such as the opening of a bridge or tunnel or roadway or building where a ribbon was to be cut. When the set received the appropriate signal, it activated the large metal 'Ribbon Cutter' in the center of the set and simultaneously flashed a very large Press-sized flashbulb. The remote signal was presumably sent by an important person such as the president of the United States who may have been unable to attend the ceremony in person. The device was excellent advertising for Western Union because it used the Western Union Telegraph Lines and therefore a large Western Union sign was prominently displayed along with the unit.

9985a Another View of the WESTERN UNION CEREMONIAL SET:

9985b Another View of the WESTERN UNION CEREMONIAL SET:

9985c The outside of the box of the WESTERN UNION CEREMONIAL SET:

9985d The Sign that accompanied the WESTERN UNION CEREMONIAL SET:

9990 FIRE ALARM KEY AND RELAY AND LIGHTNING ARRESTOR:(32KB)Fire Alarm keys and apparatus are often mistaken for telegraph instruments. This is an example of a fire alarm key, relay, and lightning arrestor. Many Fire Alarm devices were manufactured by Gamewell and this helps to identify them and differentiate them from telegraph instruments.

9990a Another view of the Fire Alarm Instrument:(31KB)

9991 FIRE ALARM KEY OR 'TAPPER' WITH CAMELBACK LEVER: (47KB) Fire Alarm keys and apparatus are often mistaken for telegraph instruments. Since they were made as early as the very early telegraph keys, they often look and are very old. This is an example of a fire alarm key that has the camelback or 'humpback' design of some of the earliest telegraph keys but it was not used to send Morse Code signals. These keys are also called 'Tappers' because they were used to 'tap' out the code which identified the location of a fire. Fire alarm codes were numeric and 3-taps, followed by 5-taps, followed by 2-taps: xxx xxxxx xx signalled that the fire was at location 352. Keys such as this often have a device which makes it impossible to activate the key accidentally and you can see this mechanism under the lever. Pressing the mechanism to one side locks the key and pressing it to the other side unlocks the key.

9991a Another view of the Fire Alarm Key or 'Tapper' showing the complete mechanism.:(55KB)

9991b A right-side view of the Fire Alarm Key or 'Tapper' showing the complete mechanism.:(54KB)

9991c A view of the Fire Alarm Key showing the set of contacts under the base.:(46KB)

9993 FIRE ALARM KEY WITH UNUSUAL ANGLED LEVER: This Chrome Plated camelback key was used to send fire alarm signals on local and city-wide fire alarm circuits. This one was designed to be mounted on a vertical wall thus explaining the angular lever. Often mistaken for land-line telegraph keys, these fire alarm keys (sometimes called 'tappers') were widely used in fire stations as early as the 1860's (This key is much more recent). The coded location of the fire was sent by the key and received in the form of bell signals at the remote stations.

9993a The contacts on the angled fire alarm key:


Professor Tom Perera
Montclair State University

Internet On-Line Telegraph & Scientific Instrument Museum:
Internet ENIGMA Museum: http://w1tp.com/enigma