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
Only Known Photo of a Civil War Field Telegraph Station. Wilcox's Landing, Virginia. Grant's Wilderness Campaign, May-June 1864 Man With Key and 2 Early Relays Chubbuck Telegraph Instruments Man With Chubbuck Key & Sounder
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 Man With Williams Sounder & Relay 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 Man With Unknown 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
Boy With a Key and a Tillotson Relay 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 A Boy With an Early Telegraph Relay
Inventor Franklin Pope With a Phelps Telegraph 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 CDV of a Young Man With a Partrick & Carter KOB
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
Young Telegrapher Charles Peirce With a Bunnell KOB. 1886 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
2 Men With JH Bunnell Instruments Man With Typewriter and Western Electric Steiner KOB Woman With 1890's Era Western Electric Telegraph Set 2 Women Telegraphers
A New York City Telegraph Office Ca. 1895 Another New York City Telegraph Office Ca. 1895 Yet Another NYC Telegraph Office Ca. 1895 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 Military Telegraph Operators at Brandfort, South Africa During the Boer War. August 11th, 1900
Guglielmo Marconi Poses With His Famous "Grasshopper" Key. Ca. 1900 Western Union Telegraph Office. Bay City, Michigan. 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 A French Telegraph Office With Multiple Registers and Other Telegraph Instruments A British Telegraph Operator Communicating With an Office in India, 1909
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
A Photo From a Telegraph Operators' Dinner Honoring Thomas Edison. In the Picture Edison is Talking With Henry Ford. San Francisco, Oct. 19th, 1915 The Recovery Room Inside the New Brunswick Marconi Station, Somerset, New Jersey 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 Telegraph Office in Cairo, Egypt Telegraph Training Class at the Cortland Business School, New York
Telegraph Training School. Location Unknown 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 Drawing of Samuel FB Morse on a Bucktrout & Co Cigarette Card (Inventors Series). 1924 The Back of the Bucktrout Cigarette Card
Jackie Coogan With a Marconi Roadmap Key. Screenshot From the 1924 Movie "A Boy of Flanders" Latvia Post & Telegraph. 1925 Early German Radio Operator With a German Postal Style Key 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 Screenshot From the John Wayne Movie "The Telegraph Trail" (1933) Showing a Cylindrical Box Relay 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 Another Picture of Albert Einstein With the Western Electric Telegraph Set, 1937
Russian Military Telegraph Office Japanese Telegraph Operator on WW2 Bomber Japanese Army Telegrapher WW2 Japanese Navy Radio Officer
Japanese Field Telegraphers WW2 Japanese Telegraph Training WW2 German Telegraph Officers WW2 German Luftwaffe Personnel Learning Morse Code
Female RCAF Telegraph Operator With a "Toronto" Bug Russian Women Learning Morse Code Postal Telegraph Operator Florence McLaughlin Using a Vibroplex Blue Racer Bug. 1940's Young Amateur Radio Operator Using a Cedar Rapids Bug. Ca. 1940's
Woman Telegrapher With a Cedar Rapids Bug. Ca. 1940's 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
Mrs. Horace B. Smith Sends a Message at the Embry-Riddle University Radio Station Using a Signal Electric Spark Key. Dec. 26th, 1942
An Air Force B17 Bomber Crew During Telegraph Training in Casper, Wyoming, 1943 The Cover of a Book on Using the Single Needle Telegraph. 1943 Swimsuit Model Posing With a Bunnell Key and Sounder Event in Washington DC Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Telegraph. 1944
William A.C. Bryan Sends Morse Code During the 83rd Anniversary of the Completion of the Transcontinental Telegraph in Salt Lake City. October 24th, 1944 Black GIs of the 539th Signal Company, Saipan, Learning Morse Code. 1945 US Army Signal Company, 70th Division, Operating Signal Corps TG-5a Telegraph Sets. 1945 Ukrainian Telegraph School. Late 1940's
Young Amateur Radio Operator Using a Vibroplex Blue Racer. Ca. 1950's Ham Operator W4HOJ With a Lightning Bug, 1950's Screenshot From the Movie "Denver & Rio Grande" (1952) Showing a Cylindrical Box Relay President Eisenhower Practices Morse Code
President Eisenhower Using a Special Telegraph Key (The Temporary Taft Key Replacement) to Light the "Freedom Flame" at the Republican Party Centennial Celebration in Ripon, Wisconsin Where the Republican Party Was Formed 100 Years Earlier. March 20, 1954 Glenn R. Van Eaton, Superintendent of the Union Pacific Railroad Telegraph Department, Demonstrating a Pump-Handle Telegraph Key for Charlene Arnold. 1955 President Eisenhower Using a Special Telegraph Key at the White House (The Temporary Taft Key Replacement) to Signal the Opening of a Printing Plant at the Buffalo Evening News, June 30, 1958 Telegraph Operator at the Milan Italy Railroad Depot. Picture Taken by Photographer Tullio Farabola. 1959
Arthur Quinn Presents the Taft Key to Alaska Senator Bartlett Arthur Quinn Observes the Taft Key and a Mini Telegraph Set in Operation TV Personality Arthur Godfrey Demonstrating the Telegraph. Arthur was a Radio Operator in the 1920's in Both the US Navy and US Coast Guard. 1962 President Kennedy With the Taft Key Before Opening the Seattle World's Fair
1960's German Classroom Where Students Are Learning About Morse 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
  A Visitor to the Museum of Wireless & Steam, in E. Greenwich Rhode Island, Uses a Giant Massie Wireless Key    




Questions or comments?

You can reach me at telegraphdude@comcast.net