Early Telegraph Photos

Great pictures of telegraph instruments can sometimes be found that were created using the earliest photographic processes.
Daguerreotypes are the earliest photographs in which the image is exposed on a silver-plated copper plate. The images have amazing detail. They were around from around 1840 until the mid 1860’s. They were expensive to produce however, so having a Daguerreotype portrait made was generally reserved for the wealthy.

In the mid 1850’s, another form of photograph called the Ambrotype was invented. It differed from the Daguerreotype in that the image was exposed on a glass plate rather than copper. They were also around until around until the mid 1860’s.

The next popular type of photograph was the Tintype, developed in the 1850’s, which exposed the image on a sheet of silvered iron. The exposed image was then coated with enamel or lacquer. They were more durable and cheaper to produce than the Ambrotype. The popularity of the Tintype peaked in the 1860's and '70's but continued to be used into the 20th Century.

Finally there was the Cabinet Card, which became the most popular type of photograph in the latter part of the 19th century. These were printed on paper using an Albumen process and then mounted on a heavy card stock. Cabinet Card prints also show great detail and were typically larger than the other types of photographs, which increased their popularity.

Below are some cool telegraph pictures, starting with Daguerreotypes & Ambrotypes, followed by Tintypes & Cabinet Cards. I have also included some more modern photographs of telegraph images from the 20th Century.

Click on each thumbnail to view the full size image:


Daguerreotype of a Woman with a Burritt Register Daguerreotype of a Man, Believed to be James. D. Reid, the Designer of the Harp Register Daguerreotype of another Man with a Clark Harp Register Daguerreotype of a Man with an early Davis Register
Daguerreotype of a Man With an Unknown Register and Relay (w1tp.com) Daguerreotype of a Man with another Burritt Register Daguerreotype of a Man with a Norton Register Half-Plate Ambrotype of Man With Early Sounder & Relay
Ambrotype of Minstrels Holding Early Telegraph Instruments, Possibly Palmer & Hall. (Jim Bollman Collection, www.themusicemporium.com) Ambrotype-Williams Register Ambrotype-Knox & Shain Register Ambrotype-Norton Register
Early Chubbuck Register Ambrotype Ambrotype of Man With Early Telegraph Relay Tillotson Relay & Sounder Tintype Tintype-Multiple Instruments
Tintype of Man With Henning Box Relay

Tintype of 3 Men With Very Early Telegraph Instruments

Tintype 1 Early Canadian Telegraph Instruments
Man With Key and 2 Early Relays 2 Men With Caton Register, Key and Relay. Picture Taken by Daniel Sewall, a Photographer in the San Francisco-Area Gold Rush Town of Sonora Chubbuck Telegraph Instruments Man With Chubbuck Key & Sounder
Man With Williams Register Man With Phelps Football Register and Knox & Shain Relay Man With a Different Style Phelps Register Plus Key & Relay Tintype of a Man With an Unusual Phelps Relay
Group of Men with Register Telegrapher Group 2 Men with Keys Young Girl With Tillotson Telegraph Set
Woman Telegrapher Woman Telegrapher With Early Telegraph Instruments Man & Woman With Relays Key & Sounder
Young Man With Tillotson Telegraph Instruments Robert Henning Instruments Man With Chester Telegraph Instruments Boys With Chester Telegraph Instruments
Man With Chester Sounder Chester Sounder / Knox & Shain Relay Telegraphen Metz, Germany 2 Men With KOB
Chester Key & Register Knox & Shain KOB Charles Williams Practice Set Man With WH Johnson Telegraph Set Consisting of a Key, Sounder, and Relay
Man With a Putt Mechanical Practice Set Man With Box Relay and Pocket Set M. Gibson, Warren Illinois. Kicking Back. Box Relay
Tillotson Private Line Set Man With Early Telegraph Instruments Man With Unknown Telegraph Set Buell KOB
Another Man With a Buell KOB Tintype of 2 Men WIth Unknown Instruments Operator With Unknown Telegraph Instruments Telegraph Operator in Nebraska With Lewis Key
Tintype of 2 Men With Western Electric Key & Sounder Tintype of 2 Men With a Western Electric Private Line Set Pair of Lewis Box Relays British Double Plate Sounders
Box Relay Man Smoking a Pipe While Using a Box Relay Operator With a Western Electric Lewis Key Man With Unknown Box Relay
Operator With a Pair of Box Relays A Telegrapher Being Robbed (Actually a Double Image of the Same Person) Man With Unknown Private Line Set Partrick-Bunnell Sounder and Relay
Man With Partrick & Carter Key Man With Bunnell 1875 Patent KOB 2 Telegraphers With Bunnell 1875 Patent Sounder and Key Man With Unknown KOB, Possibly Altoona Shops
Telegrapher With Altoona Shops Cain Sounder (Center) and an Unknown Key & Relay Steiner Key and Partrick & Carter Sounder 2 Men With a Western Union Relay, a Key, and What Appears to be a Partrick & Carter Sounder Tintype of What Appears to be a Partrick & Carter Sounder and a KOB
Man With Early Canadian Telegraph Set Lewis Key & New Haven Clock Co. Sounder Man With New Haven Clock Co. Sounders and a Relay Man with KOB Set
Telegraph Lineman With Western Electric Pocket Set Another KOB Set New Haven Clock Co. Combo Key & Sounder Tintype Man With Unknown Box Relay
Burlesque Dancer Ella Chapman With a Western Electric Private Line Set and an Unknown Relay Bunnell KOB Bunnell Key & Sounder Tintype-Possibly a Bunnell KOB
Bunnell KOB 2 Bunnell KOB 3 Tintype of Man With Bunnell Telegraph Set 2 Men With a Bunnell Telegraph Set
Man With Typewriter and Western Electric Steiner KOB Woman With 1890's Era Western Electric Telegraph Set 2 Women Telegraphers Young Telegrapher & Teacher
Father Teaching Son to Copy Morse Code Telegraph Operator Ransome Finley in the Telegraph Office in Marion, North Carolina. 1899 Men on Train Tracks With Box Relay Man Outdoors With Key and Phelps Sounder
2 Men With Bunnell Box Relays Cabinet Card of a Woman With a Bunnell Relay First Wireless Telegraph Demonstration by Ducretet & Roger on Top of the Eiffel Tower, Nov. 5, 1898 Guglielmo Marconi Poses With His Famous "Grasshopper" Key. Ca. 1900
Telegraph Operator With Multiple Bunnell Instruments The White House Telegraph Office, 1902 Japanese Military Telegraph Office During the Russo-Japanese War, 1904 White Dog at the Telegraph Key in a Dutch Telegraph Office, 1907
Russian Telegraph Office Wireless Room Aboard the SS Santa Marta Showing a Marconi Guillotine Key and French CGR Oil-Break Key. Ca. 1910 Man & Woman on Porch, Ca. 1910. Both Are Practicing Morse A Re-Creation of the Previous Picture by Photo Enthusiast Larry Roettger. Larry Used His Grandkids to Pose for the Picture. Very Cool !!
Man Using an Early Marconi Spark Key, Ca. 1910 "Big Sounder" on Float in St. Patrick's Day Parade. University of Missouri, 1913 Telegraphers at the 1913 World Series at the New York Polo Gounds Serbian Telegraph Operators During the 2nd Balkan War, 1913
Telegraph Office 1 Telegraph Office 2 Hungarian Telegraph Operator: "Miss Suzie" Swedish Telegraph Operator
Russian Woman Operating a Key & Register Set Telegraph Office 3 Swedish Telegraph Training School Telegraph Operator With Bunnell KOB Smoking a Pipe
Man Posing With a Gun and Various Telegraph Instruments 2 European Telegraph Operators With a Key & Register Set Bulgarian Telegraph Operator Bulgarian Telegraph Office
A Group of Bulgarian Telegraph Operators More Bulgarian Telegraph Operators Bulgarian Telegraph Office With Hughes Printing Telegraphs WW1 Signal Corps Telegraph School
WW1 UK Naval Signalling School Union Pacific Overland Telegraph Office Spanish Telegraphy School Large European Telegraph Office
Railroad Switchtower Operators Taking a Break to Play Some Music Telegraph Office With Young Boy Telegraph Operator Telegrapher JC Ward, Visalia California Telegrapher George Elmer Fisher at His Operating Desk
Eleanor Steele, the Telegraph Operator on Guglielmo Marconi's Yacht, The Elettra. 1922 Thomas Edison With Bunnell KOB Ham Operator Eric Palmer With Vibroplex Model X Bug, 1928 President Herbert Hoover With the Taft Key
Busy Western Union Telegraph Office Female Operators in a UK GPO Telegraph Office Women Telegraphers With Signal Electric KOB Sets Mae West Using the Telegraph to Signal the Opening of the World's Fair in Chicago, 1934
Walter Winchell at the Mic, and the Telegraph George "Sonny" Ticehurst, 3 year old son of W1CAV, Playing With a Vibroplex Bug Junior Western Union Telegrapher Frank Chojnacki Using a Vibroplex Blue Racer. Aurora Illinois, 1936 Albert Einstein With a Western Electric Telegraph Set, 1937
Russian Military Telegraph Office Japanese Telegraph Operator on WW2 Bomber WW2 Japanese Navy Radio Officer WW2 German Telegraph Officers
Female RCAF Telegraph Operator With a "Toronto" Bug WW2 German Luftwaffe Personnel Learning Morse Code WW2 Japanese Telegraph Training Pvt. AC Davison of the 711th Engineers Railway Operating Battalion. Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. July, 1942
Member of the 28th Infantry
Training With a TG5-A Telegraph Set. Fort Jackson, South Carolina, 1942
An Air Force B17 Bomber Crew During Telegraph Training in Casper, Wyoming, 1943 Black GIs of the 539th Signal Company, Saipan, Learning Morse Code. 1945 Russian Women Learning Morse Code
Woman Telegrapher With a Cedar Rapids Bug. Ca. 1940's Young Amateur Radio Operator Using a Cedar Rapids Bug. Ca. 1940's The Cover of a Book on Using the Single Needle Telegraph. 1943 Swimsuit Model Posing With a Bunnell Key and Sounder
Young Amateur Radio Operator Using a Vibroplex Blue Racer. Ca. 1950's Ham Operator W4HOJ With a Lightning Bug, 1950's President Eisenhower Practices Morse Code President Eisenhower Using a Special Telegraph Key at the White House (Not the Taft Key) to Signal the Opening of a Printing Plant at the Buffalo Evening News, 1958
Glenn R. Van Eaton, Superintendent of the Union Pacific Railroad Telegraph Department, Demonstrating a Pump-Handle Telegraph Key for Charlene Arnold. 1955 President Kennedy With the Taft Key Before Opening the Seattle World's Fair Arthur Quinn Presents the Taft Key to Alaska Senator Bartlett Arthur Quinn Observes the Taft Key and a Mini Telegraph Set in Operation
President Richard Nixon With Another Presidential Gold Telegraph Key (Not the Taft Key) 1960's German Classroom Where Students Are Learning About Morse Chinese Girl Learning Morse Code in the 1960's North Korean Girls Learning Morse Code




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You can reach me at telegraphdude@comcast.net