Telegraph Key
A Tribute to Morse Telegraphy
and
Resource for Wire and Wireless Telegraph Key Collectors and Historians
 
by Neal McEwen, K5RW
k5rw@telegraph-office.com

Key Photo Gallery | Wireless Photo Gallery | On-Line Key ID
Foreign Key Photo Gallery | Foreign Key Photo Gallery Annex | Bibliography
On-Line Museums | FAQ | Site Map

Copyright © 1996 - 2004, Neal McEwen



Welcome to The Telegraph Office. Whether you are a collector, historian or have a casual interest in the many facets of wire and wireless  telegraphy, you will find something of interest here. Many resources are presented. You should be able find information about an old telegraph key or other artifact that you have.  If you have a question, take a minute to read the Telegraph Office FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions.  Then send any questions or suggestions to k5rw@telegraph-office.com.

Last updated and link checked 11 September 2004

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References for Collectors and Historians
  • List of Semi-Automatic Key (bug) Manufacturers:  Did you know there were 60 plus makers of bugs in the U.S. alone?
  • Navy Telegraph Key and Spark Key Numbering Systems: What do the numbers on your Navy key mean?  Learn who made it and when.
  • American Telegraph Instrument Makers 1837-1900: a reference by Roger Reinke.
  • List of Spark Key manufacturers: by Russ Kleinman.
  • The "N7CFO Keyletter" and Cumulative Index: Issues 1 - 37 of the Keyletter indexed.
  • The Dow-Key bug research project: Documenting the Dow-Key bugs by Lynn Burlingame and Tony Rogozinski.  Can you add any information?
  • "Modern Practice of the Electric Telegraph": The complete 1870s book by Franklin Pope on-line. Many beautiful engravings of telegraph instruments.
  • Vintage J. H. Bunnell catalog: thanks to Steve Massy, N6TT.
  • Types of Telegraph Instruments: Greg Raven's photos and explanations of the various type of instruments.
  • Jame's Doty's list of Telegraph companies: A comprehensive list from the very beginning of the telegraph business.
  • Topics For Collectors
  • "The Telegraph Office Magazine":
  • Collecting Telegraph Instruments
  • Landline Telegraph Instruments
  • Wireless / Radiotelegraph Instruments
  • Submarine Cable Telegraphy and Instruments
  • Where do I find old keys? Tips on where to look plus a trick or two.
  • Advice for Beginning Key Collectors: Lynn Burlingame, N7CFO offers sage advice.
  • Where do I find parts for my old keys?  Are you missing a few parts?
  • Why "Trade Only"? Breaking the trade barrier with experienced collectors.
  • Key Values: What is your old key worth?
  • Telegraph Lore: Information for collectors about telegraphy and tales of days gone by.
  • Learn how to pack a Semi-Automatic key (bug)
  • On-line Key and Wireless Collections -- Domestic On-line Key and Wireless Collections -- Foreign Histories of the Key Makers
  • The J. H. Bunnell Company : 100+ Years of making Telegraph Instruments. Maker of the sideswiper, Gold Bug, steel lever key and many others.
  • Charles Williams, Jr.: The most prolific and influential key maker of the mid 19th century.
  • T. R. McElroy: maker of the "MAC-KEY" and famous '"teardrop" keys and bugs and World's Champion Radio Telegrapher; the man, the legend and the keys! Photo of McElroy and staff of WSO / WCC c. 1920.
  • George M. Phelps: Besides making beautiful keys, Phelps was a developer of printing telegraphs and technical director of Western Union in the mid 19th century.
  • George M. Phelps: More on Phelps by John Casale, W2NI, from Phelps' home town.
  • Thomas Edison: The teenage telegrapher became a telegraph engineer an telegraph instrument maker before becoming the premier inventor of the 19th century.
  • The Eddystone bug story: Only 500 of these unusual British bugs made --Extract from Morsum Magnificat:
  • Landline Telegraph History -- American Morse Old Photos of Telegraph Operators and Telegraph Offices Wireless Telegraphy (pre-1920) Radiotelegraphy and Maritime Radiotelegraphy (post-1920)
    Wireless on the RMS Titanic Submarine Cable Telegraphy Topics for Advanced Collectors Military Telegraph History Telegraphic Codes Morse's Magnetic Telegraph

    "The perfect success of professor Morse's Electro Magnetic Telegraph has excited the astonishment and admiration of the community. The most incredulous have been convinced, and occurring at the time they have done, the experiments have satisfied the public that the Magnetic Telegraph is not merely a beautiful illustration of a philosophical principle, but an agent that may be made of practical and every day utility in the business transaction of the country."

    A commentary on Samuel F. B. Morse's Washington to Baltimore telegraph line and its ability to report news instantaneously. from Exeter New Hampshire News Letter, July 1, 1844.

    Telegrams and Radiograms

    Using your Landline Telegraph Instruments Telegraph and Wireless Inventors
  • Morse's Telegraph Register Patent Model , patented May 1, 1849, patent number 6,420.
  • Morse's obituaries: New York Times and Washington Evening Star, April 1872.
  • Franklin Pope: 19th century inventor and entrepreneur.
  • Heroes of the Telegraph: Biographies of telegraph inventors and entrepreneurs written by John Munro, 1891.
  • Lee DeForest : Wireless pioneer and Inventor of the triode tube.
  • Alexander Graham Bell: Telegraph patent 174,465.
  • Alexanderson: he made very high power transmitters with AC machinery.
  • Edwin H. Armstrong: Armstrong (father of regenerative receivers and FM radio) home page; many fine photos of early gear and documents from the Harry Houck collection.
  • The wireless experiments of J.C.Bose: He predated Marconi.  Well researched IEEE paper by Darrel Emerson.
  • Nostalgia and Telegraphic Poetry
  • The Banana Boat Swing and other Distinctive Fists.
  • Three Telegraphic Poems of the 19th century: Besides being a great electro-physicist, James C. Maxwell was quite a poet.
  • Two Wireless Poems of the early 20th century: Are all wireless operators romantics?
  • Two Telegraphic Poems: by telegrapher Jerry Newton (1846-1917).
  • "Reminiscing": An old time shipboard radio operator looks back to the early days of wireless.
  • Code Ode: A beautiful poem about Morse code and those who love it.
  • Oldest Surviving Associated Press Telegrapher: Aubrey Keel, W0AKL, a walking encyclopedia of telegraph history.
  • Worlds Fastest Telegrapher on a straight key: The story of Harry Turner, an extract from Morsum Magnificat.
  • The K5RW Wire and Wireless Telegraph Key Collection and Historical Library
  • Read about the K5RW Collection: a private collection of telegraph keys and reference material with photos of unusual keys.
  • Visit the K5RW Home Page: Who is K5RW?
  • Keys Wanted: trying to fill some holes in the collection! Can you help? Got anything for sale?
  • Duplicate List: a few duplicates for trade. Would you like to swap keys? Here are some good ones!
  • Books Wanted: trying to find new research material.
  • Help me ID this Galvanometer: A very attractive and unique British instrument.
  • Recent acquisitions with photos and detailed documentation:
  • (NEW) French spark key with two sets of high current contacts: c. 1908 - 1916.
  • (NEW) Swiss PTT "silent key": c. 1920.
  • Photo of British Highland regiment with visual signalling equipment, c. 1898.
  • Ducretet & Roger spark key: c. 1914-1919, unusual French "oil break" design.
  • Atlantic Cable piece: c. 1879.
  • Wilson Royal Canadian Air Force Right Hand / Left Hand bug, c. W.W.II.
  • Charles Williams camelback key, c. 1860s.
  • T. A. Edison key, c. 1870.
  • Vibroplex Junior, c. 1921.
  • Electrical Construction Co. S.F. key, c. 1870s.
  • An unusual spark key by General Radio, c. 1918.
  • A quenched spark gap, c. 1920.
  • Relay Key from a U.S. Navy Federal Telegraph arc transmitter, c. 1919.
  • Historical and Fraternal Organizations Related Telecommunications Resources
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