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Illustrations of Telegraph Instruments and Equipment, taken from contemporary sources. Not to scale

The Electric Telegraph, then and now, 1859
A. Bright's insulators, B. Cooke's insulators,
C. Schilling's telegraph, D. Bain's clock, E. Sömmering's telegraph,
F. Alexander's telegraph, G. Lightning Protector, H. Wheatstone's alarm,
I. Bain's chemical telegraph, J. Ronald's telegraph,K. Cooke & Wheatstone's
five-needle telegraph,L. Leiden jars, M. Steinheil's telegraph,N. House's telegraph, O. Bright's magneto telegraph,P. Highton's two-needle telegraph,
Q. Henley's magneto telegraph,R. Bright's bell telegraph,S. Cooke & Wheatstone's one-needle telegraph coil,T. Froment's telegraph,
U. Cooke & Wheatstone's two-needle telegraph,V. Foy & Breguet's telegraph,
W. Brett's telegraph, X. An American recording telegraph,
Y. Cooke's Sand Battery, Z. Cooke's detector or galvanometer
1. Troughs for underground cables, 2. Test box, 3. Submarine cable 4. Soldering iron furnace, 5. Soldering iron and solder, 6. Cooke's insulators and wire connectors, 7. Jointing shackle, 8. Shovel and Pick, 9. Jointing tools,
10. Hammer

The Engravings

The poor quality of the images is due to the age and condition of the mid-nineteenth century sources. They have been scanned from the books listed in the Sources, from patent specifications, from magazine articles and from manufacturers' catalogues; all sources for engravings are over 140 years old.

Just Scroll down for many more pictures!


Bain Writer 1848
Used by the Electric Telegraph Company between 1848 and 1860. It printed the dots and dashes of Bain Code on a clockwork-driven roll of chemically-sensitized paper. There is a finger-pedal or key on the right of the base to send the message. It could also be used with a separate rotary transmitter fed with punch tape: the tape was prepared originally by Bain's crude single hole punch and then by a three-lever punch devised by Latimer Clark.


Bain's first I & V Telegraph of 1843
These simple instruments with double-keys and a single-needle indicator
were used on state circuits and on the railways in the Austrian Empire from 1843. A thoroughly effective device, it used a cypher based on combinations of the numbers 1 and 5 (Roman I and V). 


Bain's I & V Telegraph of 1845
This is the single needle and drop handle version mounted on a wall bracket used between Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as on railways in Austria-Hungary.
It has replaced the keys or pedals with a rotating commutator so that it looked more like the needle telegraph common in Britain; the drop handle was spring-loaded to return to the mid-point. 


Bakewell's Copying Telegraph 1848
Used experimentally in 1854, it is the precursor of the facsimile machine. The sender and the receiver were identical, with a rotating drum worked by clockwork and a traversing electric "feeler": using metallic foil round the drum on which hand-writing or a drawing was made  to send, and with chemically-sensitized paper to receive.


Bonelli's Typo-Telegraph 1860
A small chemical writer that printed roman alphabet on its right 
side, sending from feelers scanning a line of metallic type set on the left side, as it reciprocated.  It required a five-wire circuit, one wire for each feeler. The tape on the right under the feelers was about one inch wide. This was used by Bonelli's Telegraph Company between Liverpool and Manchester in 1863.


Breguet's Dial Telegraph
The Receiver
Used widely in French government circuits until the American telegraph was adopted in 1855 and on French railway circuits for much of the rest of the century.  There was a separate alarm bell to attract the clerk's attention.
It was adopted by the Economic Telegraph Company in 1863.


Breguet's Dial Telegraph
The Sender
Not patented in this form in Britain, so was widely imitated and used on internal circuits in factories and mines in the 1860s. It was a galvanic telegraph, requiring a battery of cells and a single wire circuit; movement of the handle rotated the needle of the receiver. 



Breguet's Portable Telegraph 1854
Combining in a single case the receiver, the sender, a small galvanometer and a sand battery in the ventilated box base. This was the only Breguet apparatus patented in Britain.
It was also known as Breguet & Crossley's Telegraph, from its licensee in Halifax.


Brett & Little's Electro-Telegraphic Converser 1847
The first instrument devised by George Little, financed by Henry and Alfred Brett, London brandy distillers. It was the earliest challenge to the Cooke & Wheatstone telegraph with a two needle indicator and a horizontal (left and right) handle to communicate. The Electric Telegraph Company bought the patent in 1851 and suppressed its use.



Brett's Electric Type Printing Telegraph 1848
Used by the European Telegraph Company in 1854. This was devised by Royal Earl House in America during 1845 using a piano-like keyboard to transmit the roman alphabet to print out on paper tape, it could also be read from the clock-like dial in the centre;  its mechanical parts were operated by clockwork. Jacob Brett, brother of the great cable entrepreneur John Watkins Brett, bought a license from House.

Jacob Brett's Rotary Telegraph Sender 1851
It used a rotary handle rather than the original  keyboard to transmit the
roman alphabet, the letters and numbers so arranged to speed-up transmission. It was used by the Submarine Telegraph Company briefly in 1851.
A miniature or portable version was also made.

See also 31 below, for House's much improved version


Bright's Bell Telegraph 1855
Used by the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company between 1855 and 1868. Receiving acoustically, it was worked by a separate pair of "tappers" or keys which are not shown; the device in the centre is a relay.
It required a single wire circuit and worked the "European Alphabet", a German adaptation of the American Code.
It was the "fastest" working of all simple electric telegraphs in Britain


Cooke & Wheatstone's Five-Needle Telegraph 1849
Originally thought to be that used on the Great Western Railway in 1838,
this is a miniature or demonstration version of the first wall-mounted five-needle telegraph of 1837 that was made in 1849 for the Electric Telegraph Company as evidence in a patent law suit.

Only one pair of these miniature instruments were made in 1849, they were subsequently kept in the Company's boardroom along with a sample
of the very first five-wire telegraph circuit of 1837 that was recovered at Euston Square in 1863.


Cooke & Wheatstone's Two-Needle Telegraph 1842
Used by the Electric Telegraph Company between 1842 and 1868. It comprised two switches or commutators and two dials or galvanometers, and sent a unique code that lasted until 1880. It needed two wires. Note later drop handles.
The original version had a twenty character code plus numbers, this version with "twin dials" had a twenty-five character code but no numbers.


Cooke & Wheatstone's Single-Needle Telegraph 1846
This is the earliest 'gothic' version with an S-handle; effectively just half of the previous two-needle telegraph. It required just one line wire, using its own special code until mid-1853 when the "European Alphabet" was adopted.

Cooke & Wheatstone's Single-Needle Telegraph 1868
The final version with a drop handle and a shelf to hold the outgoing message, used on local and divisional (or intermediate) lines of the Electric Telegraph Company and by the railway companies for nearly a century


Cooke's Detector
The first common electrical instrument from 1838; it was a portable galvanometer measuring current in degrees of deflection.


Cooke's Dial Telegraph 1840
A galvanic instrument in which moving the outer index to the dial
caused the inner hand at the distant station to follow its movement
Copied by Alexander Bain in 1863


Clark's Perforator 1850
Devised by Latimer Clark of the Electric Telegraph Company to perforate
tape for Bain's fast chemical telegraph replacing the original hammer-worked single punch, and used from 1850.
In the engraving the two upper levers punched either a large hole (dash) or a small hole (dot) in the tape, the lower lever moved it on one space.  The tape moved from right to left beneath the levers.
A copy was attempted by Siemens & Halske but never used.


Culley's Pneumatic Perforator 1868
R S Culley's improvement in Wheatstone's automatic telegraph, using compressed air pistons to punch code into paper tape rather than tiring and occasionally painful manual pressure.
It enabled women operators to punch tape for the first time.


Dering's Telegraph 1852
George Edward Dering's galvanic needle instrument worked by two small electro-magnetic coils with an alarm bell in the arch. It was used on the two long lines of the Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland, between Dublin, Belfast and Newtownards, and from Port O'Spital near Port Patrick to Dumfries in Scotland.
Probably made by William Reid in London, a shareholder in the company.
A Science Museum photograph


Digney's "American" Telegraph
The French version of the inking receiver, used by the Submarine Telegraph Company. The tape reel above the clockwork mechanism for moving the tape,
with the electro-magnetic element to the right.


Electric Telegraph Company's paratonnerre 1848
Lightning striking the line wires is short-circuited to earth across the brass spheres and close points before it can damage the instruments or their clerks.
There were a great many alternative arrangements for lightning protection.



 Foy & Breguet's Telegraph
Used by the Submarine Telegraph Company briefly in 1852, and by the state system in France until replaced by the Breguet dial telegraph.
It has two rotating arms with two crank handles; the arms imitated the action of the Chappe optical telegraph of the Bonaparte era.


Froment Dial 1850

Froment's Alphabetic Telegraph 1850
The ultimate improvement of Wheatstone's galvanic dial instrument.
A clockwork-powered receiving dial, a clockwork-powered transmitting keyboard with a verifying dial and a separate alarm bell, all three with
separate electro-magnetic escapements or actions.
Widely publicised in Britain around 1855 but not adopted


Hatcher Indicator 1848

W H Hatcher's Single and Double Index Telegraph 1848
Used by the Electric Telegraph Company alongside of Cooke & Wheatstone's two-needle instruments for a short period.
The single index version worked in two directions, the double index worked two needles moving in opposite directions. The latter instrument controlled trains
on the South Devon Railway and was displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851

Hatcher Communicator 1848

W H Hatcher's Double Key and Induction Machine 1848
For working both the single and double index telegraphs in connection
with a small galvanic battery
There was also a double magneto that did not need cells, this was in effect
a pair of Wheatstone magneto devices (see below, 79)
W H Hatcher was Secretary and Engineer to the Electric Telegraph Company
from 1846 to 1851


W T Henley's Magneto-Electric Telegraph 1852
Used by the Magnetic Telegraph Company and its successors between 1851 and 1868 for domestic circuits; phased out in England after 1855, it remained common in Ireland for many years. Each lever worked a needle in one direction only, but without batteries. It required a two-wire circuit.


W T Henley's Single Needle Magneto-Electric Telegraph
Without needing batteries it was used for signalling on the early Mediterranean
underwater cables and, experimentally, on the Magnetic Telegraph Company's
domestic long lines in the mid-1850s, with a special dot-dot code and a single wire line.  It was much slower in action than the galvanic needle telegraphs. Its powerful current pulse was also used for igniting explosive charges.


Henley Dial

W T Henley's Magneto-Electric Dial Telegraph 1861
Rotating the horizontal handle generated a series of electrical pulses
that caused the index in the upper dial to move in sympathy.
The mechanism was not as precise as Wheatstone's or Siemens and
easily lost its synchronicity in unskilled hands
The British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company and the London District Telegraph Company tried to market it, as well as Henley


W T Henley's Military Telegraph
Originating from the Crimean War 1854-6, a portable galvanic single-needle instrument with button keys, it also served as a galvanometer for measuring current. Unlike his magneto-electric machines it was based on Henley's galvanometers and so needed galvanic cells. It was used by the Royal Engineers of the British Army in the 1860s and 1870s. As with other single-needle instruments it transmitted the "European Alphabet".


Highton's First Single-Needle Telegraph 1850
This is the earliest version with an S-handle  for sending, dating from 1850.
It had Highton's patent coils to work the long needle. The S-handle commutator was replaced by Highton's  patent "tappers" shortly after. They all had a German-silver shield at the head engraved with either Highton's name or that of the British Telegraph Company. It used the unique Highton Code and a single wire circuit.



Highton's  Single-Needle Telegraph 1852
This improved version of Edward Highton's instrument had his mock "suspended" diamond needle for receiving and  Highton's patent wooden "tappers" or keys for sending at the base with a single wire circuit. Both the fat needle and the tappers are marked L and R for Left and Right!
The two German-silver finger pointers were also on the operational version.  
This was the version actually used by the British Telegraph Company.


Highton's Single-Needle Telegraph
Used by the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company and
the London District Telegraph Company. After those of Cooke & Wheatstone this was the commonest telegraph instrument in Britain.
(Note the "tappers")


Highton's Tappers 1852
Invented in 1852, a pair of double current-reversing keys; installed in the base of Highton's needle telegraph and used separately to work Bright's Bells. A side view and plan view, the tappers and base are wooden with a narrow brass bridge towards the front. The tappers work on thin springs.


House's Type Printing Telegraph 1849
Royal Earl House's second and much improved type-printing instrument. It printed messages in roman capital letters onto a paper tape, it could also be read letter-by-letter by means of a dial in the small turret on the top if the paper ran out. The roll of paper tape was on the cross at top right on the pedestal with an ink band (dotted). It had a pneumatic regulator and needed a treadle air pump under the table-top to turn its various mechanisms. It was widely used on  lines on America's east coast from 1850.

Unfortunately Jacob Brett, R E House's licensee in Europe, who patented it in England in May 1853, chose not to promote this advanced and effective type-printer


Hughes' Type Printing Telegraph 1858
Used by the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company from 1862 until 1868. It had a clockwork mechanism to print the roman alphabet on a paper tape until the 1880s when Siemens & Halske introduced an electric motor. It was to be adopted by the Submarine Telegraph Company in 1872 for its circuits to Paris, Brussels, Cologne, Berlin and Antwerp.

35 to 48


W F Cooke's Original Insulator
Introduced in 1842, a 2 inch diameter brown earthenware disc, the circuit
wire threaded through the hole,
stapled directly to the side of the telegraph pole.
Used on the Great Western Railway between Paddington and Slough

W F Cooke's Barrel Insulator
Electric Telegraph Company 1845 - 1850
A 3 inch long hollow earthenware cylinder retained by an iron staple to the pole, this was Cooke's second pottery insulator.

Alexander Bain's Insulator
Used between Edinburgh and Glasgow 1845
The first "bell" or "shed", a ceramic cylinder, the circuit wire tied
to the top pin, inserted onto a wooden or iron peg

J L Ricardo's Insulator
Used experimentally by the Electric Telegraph Company 1848
Patented by Lewis Ricardo, the Company's chairman, it was devised by Henry Physick. A ceramic cylinder with an iron hook for the wire, secured to the pole by a staple, the top recess filled with mastic

Edwin Clark's Insulator
Electric Telegraph Company 1850 - 1855
The "shed" protecting the inner stoneware insulator is a separate element  stamped out of zinc

Edwin Clark' s Ceramic Insulator
The whole body is now made from glazed stoneware, improving its
insulative properties considerably

C V Walker's Porcelain Insulator
Inspired by Cooke's barrel of 1843, but made of  porcelain in France in 1850,
used only on the circuits of the South Eastern Railway

Edward Highton's Gutta-Percha Insulator
British Electric Telegraph Company 1851-52
A silk ribbon surrounded by hot gutta-percha and varnished with shellac and used on lines in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

C T Bright's Insulator
Widely used by the English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company,
British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company and
the London District Telegraph Company 1852 - 1868.
A metal pin and light wire held the wire in place at the head
of the ceramic dome.

Latimer Clark's Insulator
 Used by the Electric Telegraph Company from 1856 in relatively
small numbers. With a double shed or invert cast into the body.
The iron pin or bolt retained by mastic

C F Varley's Insulator
Used by the Electric & International Telegraph Company, 1859 - 68
A ceramic "double shed" on an iron bolt, glued together with mastic, its use continued into the 20th Century.

W Andrews' Insulator
Patented in 1861 and used extensively on the circuits of
the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company.
It comprises an iron bolt with an ebonite cup within a ceramic bell.
In 1860 Andrews had patented a complex cylindrical ebonite insulator,
with three resin elements, mastic adhesive and an iron hook,
that was embedded in the cross-bar

 W T Henley's Insulators
Patented in 1861, showing the complexity of designs for the rain
and moisture deflecting "sheds"
Used only in test circuits in Britain and in Henley's contracts overseas

Siemens "Ironclad" Insulator
Used by the Indo-European Telegraph Company from 1868 and also widely used on government lines over rough terrain in Prussia and Russia. An iron shell with a ceramic inner and an iron hook for the wire all glued together.


Little's Telegraph 1849
George Little's second effort at a telegraph. The indicator uses two glass vials each containing a metal filament in oil which moves either left or right using the current reversing buttons on the base. There was also a miniature or pocket-sized version. It was used only experimentally.


Moore's Galvanometer 1857
A very simple and sensitive device used to receive messages on the first Atlantic cable of 1857 and by the British Horological Institute in 1859 to receive the time-signal from the Greenwich Observatory.


Nott & Gamble's Telegraph 1846
Used experimentally in 1846 and acquired by the Electric Telegraph Company.
There are two keys in the box at the base to work the index hand of the dial;
the swing arm below the dial is the switch between the telegraph and the alarm bell. It was used on the Great Western Railway's Box Tunnel from 1848.


F W Nottebohm's Umschalter
The first switch-board, used by the Royal Prussian Telegraph and
by the Electric Telegraph Company.
An insulated metallic peg connected the circuits at the holes in the metal strips.


O'Shaughnessy's Indian "Telegraph" or Receiver 1851
Made in India, a simple coil and a single one-inch long needle, with a mirror in the lid. It worked a unique code for the East India Company.


O'Shaughnessy's Indian "Reverser" or Transmitter 1851
Turning the handle in the left reversed the current by dipping contacts in mercury. Used by the East India Company.

55 to 57


Electric Telegraph Company Pipe 1848
3 inch diameter solid cast-iron with socket ends,
Laid from the Strand to Nine Elms in London,
the first underground cable


William Reid's Pipe 1852
2 inch diameter, solid cast-iron with screw-ends,
used by the European Telegraph Company on its inner London circuits.
Wooden troughs were used for the trunk line to Dover

W T Henley's Patent Split Pipes 1853
2 inch diameter, two part cast-iron with socket ends,
used by the English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company and
the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company



Rutter's Patent Electric-Indicator 1847 
An alarm for protection from fire, trespass and robbery. The alarm apparatus with a galvanometer on the left, signalling F for Fire and B for Burglar, with the small alarm bell to the left triggered by the electromagnet above. It was worked by the electric thermometers and mercury switches below, and later by automatic switches.

Rutter's Electric Indicator  1847
used an Electric Thermometer (left)
and a Mercury Switch (right)
The heat of fire caused the mercury in the differential thermometer to rise to the platinum points to create a circuit in one direction; a burglar opening or closing a door or window tripped over the mercury-filled bulb to create a circuit in the opposite direction.


Shepherd's Electric Clock or Time Transmitter 1851
Used to precisely transmit time in one-hundreth of seconds from Greenwich Observatory to slave clocks at London Bridge railway terminus and at the central stations of the telegraph companies in London.


Siemens 1847M

Siemens & Halske's Galvanic Dial Telegraph 1847
The first Siemens telegraph, patented in Prussia in 1847. In one wooden case there was a galvanometer on the lower left, a switch above, the twelve inch diameter telegraph with dial and petal keys on the right, and an internal alarm
Connectors along the top: Z - zinc, C - copper, E - earth, L - line.
Switch at left: T - telegraph, R - rest (alarm).
There is a push-pull on-off control  next to the switch. The index or needle rotated continuously until stopped by pressure on a key.


Siemens & Halske's "American" Telegraph
A key-and-inker used in Britain mainly for submarine telegraphy to Europe
before 1868, on the long domestic circuits of the Electric Telegraph Company and of the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company. The receiving clockwork-driven inker is to the left, the paper roll is in the base drawer, the sending key and a galvanometer under a glass dome are on the right.



 Siemens & Halske's Magneto Dial Telegraph 1859
Used by the London District Telegraph Company in its private circuits from 1860.  It indicated the roman alphabet on its dial by turning the handle. There is an exposed bell alarm on the top with a switch between bell and telegraph.
Like the Universal Telegraph it used no galvanic cells.


Siemens & Halske's Rotary Sender 1869
This was  a magneto-telegraph that transmitted code from a punched tape
without the use of batteries, to one of Wheatstone's automatic receivers. It was first used by the Indo-European Telegraph Company on its circuit between London and Teheran using Varley's automatic relays.


Siemens & Halske's "Sounder" or Acoustic Telegraph 1868
Introduced as an experiment  to improve receiving rates by
the Electric Telegraph Company on its local circuits in
response to the success of Bright's Bell acoustic telegraph
It was not generally adopted by the Company


Statham's Fuze c.1850
A copper wire covered with sulphuretted gutta percha insulation allowed sulphide of copper to form on the interior of the resin. If the copper wire is cut the current passes through the sulphide which ignites. Used with galvanic batteries or single cells and induction coils to detonate gunpowder and gun cotton for many years in demolition works.


Theiler's Direct Printing Telegraph 1857
Introduced the "disc inker" in place of the needle embosser on the American telegraphs used by the Electric Telegraph Company.
The electro-magnets, working the arm to the right, are not shown.
Now sensitive enough not to require a local relay


Thomson's Mirror Galvanometer 1857
An oil lamp behind the graduated screen focussed a point of light on a mirror and a magnet suspended on a filament in the coil of the highly-sensitive galvanometer on the left. A current-reversing key caused the mirror and magnet to turn and a reflected spot of light indicated the message by swinging either left or right on the graduated screen. Successfully used for receiving messages on the Atlantic cables of 1858 and 1866.

68 to 73

The sleeper or trough for carrying wires was not an original invention,
the patents noted applied to the insulation or to material used

Cooke's Batten 1837
Not exactly a trough, but narrow lengths of wood with deep grooves
containing india-rubber insulated wires stopped with wood fillets,
2 inches high by 3 inches broad
Used between Euston Square and Camden Town on
 the London & Birmingham Railway during 1837

Reid's Original Sleeper or Trough 1847
Patented in 1847, the bare copper wires are laid between short, cylindrical earthenware or gutta-percha carriers or supports within the grooves of the sleeper, which are then filled with marine glue or other resin, with resin washers where the sleepers meet to keep out moisture.
This odd mode of insulation was reinvented by Henry Wilde in 1863.

Reid's Improved Sleeper or Trough 1847
Also patented in 1847, this had lead-sheathed, india-rubber and cotton
 insulated wires in a wooden sleeper or trough,covered with an iron "shield" or lid.  William Reid and T W B Brett also patented metallic troughs in 1852, but there is no evidence that they were ever used

W T Henley's Original Troughs 1851
Protecting underground gutta-percha telegraph cables bound together in heavy webbing in wooden sleepers with wooden lids. Used by the English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company between 1851 and 1852.

W T Henley's Improved Troughs 1851
Protecting underground gutta-percha telegraph cables in rot-proofed wooden sleepers with a zinc or iron lid. These were used by the English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company and the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company between 1851 and 1868.

Electric Telegraph Company's Wooden Troughs 1854
Used on its short-lived "express" wires between London and Birmingham
in 1854 along the London & North-Western Railway
Of note is the V form and loose deposition of the gutta-percha insulated cables featured in William Reid's and T W B Brett's 1852 patent


Varley's Submarine Key 1854
The first double current-reversing key, introduced on the International Telegraph Company's underwater circuit from Lowestoft in England to Scheveningen in Holland. Latterly it was used on the Electric Telegraph Company's very long domestic lines with Siemens American inkers or receivers.
It had five electrical connections, to the relay, to the inker, to the line, to the line battery (and inker), to the local battery (and relay).


Varley's Relay 1854
This advanced double current-reversal relay or repeater automatically
 amplified the line current. It was used in tandem with Varley's Key on the longest telegraph lines, from London to Amsterdam, then to Liverpool, Edinburgh and to Dublin. It, too, had five electrical connections along its base
Varley's relay was adapted by 1860 to convert English double current-reversal circuits to European (and American) single current working.
It enabled direct land circuits, without manual retransmission, from London to Constantinople in 1862, and even to Omsk in Siberia by 1864.



Wilde's Globe Telegraph 1863
The foot treadle generated magneto-electricity to drive a needle on a horizontal circular communicating dial with alphabetic stop buttons on its circumference. 
The indicator at the top had the receiving dial and an alarm in a spherical case, the "globe". It was a much larger competitor to Wheatstone's Universal telegraph.


Whishaw's Telekouphonon 1848
A "speaking telegraph", using gutta-percha tubing to connect rooms in public buildings,club houses, mansions, hotels, warehouses and offices, and at the Electric Telegraph Company's Central Station in London.
Speaking tubes had previously been made of inflexible tinplate conduit.
Shown are whistle-mouthpieces of 1854 made from ivory, metal, glass or wood to attach to the gutta percha tube; the removable whistle has an Indicator which pops out when the whistle is sounded where several were in use together.


Wheatstone's Automatic Telegraph 1858
The Key-Punch and The Receiver
It sent and received three "characters", dot, dash and space, the key
punched holes representing each character on a paper tape. Several key punches were used to supply a single clockwork-driven high-speed transmitter with tapes. The transmitter worked in synchronicity with a distant clock-work driven receiver which printed dots and dashes in ink on a paper tape. It was used by the Electric & International Telegraph Company from 1867 on its long lines in Britain and by the Great Northern Telegraph Company of Copenhagen from 1869 on its underwater cables and its long lines in Russia.


Wheatstone's Magnetic Exploder 1863
The first electric blasting machine, shown removed from its wooden casing.
Used in colonial mining and by the British Army from 1861, and by the Confederate States to detonate submarine charges or torpedoes in 1864, through a gutta-percha insulated copper wire.

Abel's Magnet Fuze 1863
This was the detonator used with the Magnetic Exploder, inserted in charges of black powder or the much more powerful new explosive, gun cotton. It has a box-wood head with a long copper primer filled with phosphide of copper and a tubular case of black powder.


Wheatstone's Magnet & Bell 1840
Pressing the lever down against the spring lifts the coil of wire away from a permanent magnet to generate a pulse of electricity. It was used to signal slow beats on a distant bell on railways and in mines for many years. By 1848 it was known as the Thunder Pump from its lever action and as the bell was exceptionally loud.


Wheatstone's Galvanic Dial Telegraph 1840
The original battery-worked capstan sender that made and broke the circuit to send pulses to a clockwork escapement moving a dial round
one character at a time.


Wheatstone's Electro-Magnetic Telegraph 1843
The Dial Sender viewed from above, used on the Great Western Railway in 1843
and experimentally on the London to Southampton circuit. Turning the wheel transmitted a series of magneto-electrical pulses. No batteries needed.



Wheatstone's Electro-Magnetic Telegraph 1843
The first Dial Receiver
The letters and numbers are visible through the small circular window. The dial rotated through pulses of galvanic or magneto-generated electricity. It had an interior bell alarm.


Wheatstone's Universal Telegraph 1858
Used by the Universal Private Telegraph Company from 1860; indicating the alphabet on its dials by turning the handle to generate magneto-electricity it did not need batteries. The sender stopped the needle by pressing one of the small button keys on the lower dial. The lever on the top switched between A - alarm and T - telegraph.

(Every home should have had one)


Wheatstone's Universal Type Printer 1863
The first desk-top printer, used with the communicator dial on the private wires of the Universal Private Telegraph Company. With a clockwork mechanism, it originally "printed" roman type without ink on recyclable metallic tape.


Wheatstone's Magnetic Clock 1840
One of six "slave" clocks registering hours, minutes and seconds, connected electrically to one master movement, at King's College, London, in 1840
The Magnetic Clocks were made by E J Dent, the famous clockmaker, of 82 Strand, London
A Christies Photograph

Wheatstone's Magnetic Clock 1870
First announced in 1840 but only put into production in 1870
Shown is the master instrument at the Central Telegraph Station, London.
Many subsidiary or slave dials were connected about the building

A magnificent collection of photographs of preserved telegraphic instruments can be found at
Fons Vanden Berghen's Museum Website

Telegraph, from the Greek “tele”, distant, and “graphos”, writing
© Copyright - Steven Roberts 2012