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 another Burritt Register Half-Plate Tintype 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 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 Williams Register
Man With Phelps Football Register and Knox & Shain Relay Man With a Different Style Phelps Register Plus Key & 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
Kicking Back Box Relay Tillotson Private Line Set Man With Early Telegraph Instruments
Man With Unknown Telegraph Set 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
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 Lewis Key & New Haven Clock Co. Sounder Man with KOB Set
Another KOB Set New Haven Clock Co. Combo Key & Sounder Tintype 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 Men on Train Tracks With Box Relay First Wireless Telegraph Demonstration by Ducretet & Roger on Top of the Eiffel Tower, Nov. 5, 1898 Japanese Military Telegraph Office During the Russo-Japanese War, 1904
Russian Telegraph Office 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 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 Bulgarian Telegraph Office With Hughes Printing Telegraphs Bulgarian Telegraph Operator Bulgarian Telegraph Office
A Group of Bulgarian Telegraph Operators More Bulgarian Telegraph Operators Eleanor Steele, the Telegraph Operator on Guglielmo Marconi's Yacht, The Elettra Thomas Edison With Bunnell KOB
President Herbert Hoover With the Taft Key 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 Japanese Telegraph Operator on WW2 Bomber
Female RCAF Telegraph Operator With a "Toronto" Bug WW2 German Luftwaffe Personnel Learning Morse Code Pvt. AC Davison of the 711th Engineers Railway Operating Battalion. Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. July, 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
Young Amateur Radio Operator Using a Vibroplex Blue Racer. Ca. 1950's President Eisenhower Practices Morse Code 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) Chinese Girl Learning Morse Code in the 1960's North Korean Girls Learning Morse Code




Questions or comments?

You can reach me at telegraphdude@comcast.net