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 Half-Plate Tintype 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 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 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 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
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
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 Telegraph Operator Ransome Finley in the Telegraph Office in Marion, North Carolina. 1899
Men on Train Tracks With Box Relay 2 Men With Bunnell Box Relays 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
White Dog at the Telegraph Key in a Dutch Telegraph Office, 1907 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 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 Bulgarian Telegraph Office With Hughes Printing Telegraphs
Bulgarian Telegraph Operator Bulgarian Telegraph Office A Group of Bulgarian Telegraph Operators More Bulgarian Telegraph Operators
WW1 UK Naval Signalling School 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 Junior Western Union Telegrapher Frank Chojnacki Using a Vibroplex Blue Racer. Aurora Illinois, 1936 George "Sonny" Ticehurst, 3 year old son of W1CAV, Playing With a Vibroplex Bug
Japanese Telegraph Operator on WW2 Bomber WW2 Japanese Navy Radio Officer 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 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
Young Amateur Radio Operator Using a Vibroplex Blue Racer. Ca. 1950's President Eisenhower Practices Morse Code 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  




Questions or comments?

You can reach me at telegraphdude@comcast.net