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Telegraph Key & Sounder - Chester, Portable, circa1865 Object Reg. No: ST 022102

Portable telegraph key and sounder in leather-coverd case. Used by personnel working on telegraph lines in the field to transmit and receive messages.

To transmit signals the operator depressed the flexible brass strip (the key) to complete an electric circuit and transmit current along the telegraph line. Releasing the key broke the circuit and cut off the current. Letters and numbers were represented by a sequence of short and long current pulses, transmitted according to a defined code. The most widely used code was generally known as "Morse code".

When receiving signals, the incoming current pulses energised the coils of the receiving instrument, or "sounder". The operator interpreted the signals by listening to the sounds made by the sounder mechanism.

The key and sounder were made by Charles T. and J. N. Chester, New York, between 1858 and 1871. Used at Melbourne Observatory.
Sounder with horizontal coils on brass base in leather-covered case. Key is flexible brass strip with ebonite knob. Brass components.
Acquisition Information:
Transfer from Melbourne Observatory
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 70 mm (Height), 80 mm (Width), 157 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: morse keys, telegraph equipment, telegraphy
Themes this item is part of: Australia and the global telegraph network 1854-1902, The Australian telegraph network 1854-1877, Telegraphy Collection, Melbourne Observatory Collection, Information & Communication Collection, Positional Astronomy at Melbourne Observatory, Weights & Measures at Melbourne Observatory, Melbourne Observatory & Standard Time in Victoria, Astrographic Catalogue, Transits of Venus, 1874 & 1882, Buildings at Melbourne Observatory, Star Observations & Personal Equation, Meteorology at Melbourne Observatory, 1863-1908, Melbourne Observatory, 1863-1944, Geodetic Survey of Victoria, 1858-1872
Primary Classification: COMMUNICATIONS
Secondary Classification: Telegraphy
Tertiary Classification: input/output
Inscriptions: Base of sounder engraved:

Inside of case lid lettered in gold:
Maker: Mr Charles T. & J. N. Chester, New York, New York State, United States of America
User: Melbourne Observatory, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia

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