THE JOHN MILTON WILLIAMS TELEGRAPH COLLECTION
(A FEW SAMPLES)
W1TP TELEGRAPH AND SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENT MUSEUMS: http://w1tp.com
John Williams has been collecting early telegraph keys and unusual scientific
instruments for many years. His huge collection includes extraordinary and
significant examples of many extremely rare and unusual telegraph
keys and instruments. He has acquired many instruments with complete
histories of their use (provenance) and makes determined efforts to
find out as much as he can about the history and use of each item
in his amazing collection. The following are a few samples from his
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THE JOHN MILTON WILLIAMS TELEGRAPH COLLECTION ( A
- UNUSUAL NEEDLE TELEGRAPH SET:(28KB)
This lovely early needle telegraph set is an example of the type
of telegraph system that was used before Morse's dramatic
demonstration of the telegraph in 1844. Used primarily in England
on the railroads, a swinging handle places different polarities of
voltage on the line which cause a galvanometer needle at the other
end of the line to swing left or right to signal dots or dashes.
This example has an unusual brass mounted handle.
- VERY EARLY FRENCH NEEDLE TELEGRAPH:(23KB)
This telegraph sender and receiver used the principles pioneered by
Wheatstone to move a pointer to a specific letter. The large handle
or key in the lower part of the apparatus sent an electrical pulse
to one of the two electromagnets that rotated the pointer either
left or right to reach the desired letter. An enlarged view of the
face of the dial is shown below. Circa 1860s.
CLOSEUP OF THE DIAL OF THE VERY EARLY FRENCH NEEDLE TELEGRAPH:(19KB)
The electromaget coils that rotate the pointer to the left or right
may be seen through the cnter of the dial.
- PRE-CIVIL WAR LINEMAN'S POCKET TEST SET:(28KB)
This 'pocket test set' is a complete key and sounder combination
that has been designed to fit into the metal box shown alongside
of it. It was carried by telegraph linesmen and frequently used
by spies to tap into the enemy telegraph lines and even send false
and misleading information to the enemy. Most of these sets are
mounted on black bases but this set, with its wooden base was
probably made well before the Civil War. Circa 1850s.
- VERY EARLY STRAP KEY:(24KB)
Strap keys of this type were the first telegraph key designs. Although
more elaborate keys were soon developed, strap keys such as this
continued to be used throughout the history of telegraph.
- VERY RARE CHARLES WILLIAMS DUPLEX KEY:(8KB)
This is one of the only 3 keys of its type made. It was a prototype
for the Stearns Duplex Telegraph System. Circa 1868.
- UNUSUAL CASED BUNNELL TELEGRAPH SET:(26KB)
This lovely Bunnell key and sounder (KOB) set was obtained from
Jesse Bunnell's wife after he died. It had been part of the
Bunnell Museum and, although no special markings indicate it,
it may have been mounted in this box as some sort of commemorative
piece. No other examples of Bunnell KOB sets mounted in this sort
of box have been located.
- VICTOR KEY MOUNTED WITH A BOX RELAY:(13KB)
The "Victor Patent Key" was patented in 1882 and used knife-edge
pivots rather than a round trunnion.
- UNUSUAL GENERAL RADIO CO. 'RADIO RELAY KEY':(20KB)
This unusual key was used by the United States Navy to key a high
powered spark transmitter. It is marked 2KW RADIO RELAY KEY made
for NAVY DEPARTMENT (BU.S.E.) by GENERAL RADIO CO. for
NAVY YARD, Boston, Mass. Contract No. 235. Date 1918.
Type CAG 497. 500 Cycles. AC Amps: 50.
VERY EARLY 1840s 'MEDICAL'INDUCTION COIL:(15KB)
This is a very early induction coil used to step up a low battery
voltage of around 3 volts to a high voltage of about 1000 volts.
It was used to administer 'therapeutic' electric shocks to a
patient which were thought to be curative of most ailments. These
'quack medical devices' remained in use until the FDA found that
they were inneffective and outlawed their sale although some are
being sold to this day as 'personal hygiene or exercise machines'
to avoid the FDA classification as medical devices. The hand-wound
coils are typical of these early designs as is the bright gold
trim meant to impress a patient and help convince him/her of the
effectiveness of the machine.
VERY EARLY 1840s VERTICAL 'MEDICAL'INDUCTION COIL:(12KB)
This is a very unusual vertical coil version of an early 'medical'
induction coil as described above.
- FARADAY PHILOSOPHICAL MOTOR:(37KB)
This early motor was used to demonstrate the turning force of an
electric current passing through a wire. It consists of two circular
pools which are to be filled with mercury. Into these pools dip
contacts at each end of a vertically mounted iron bar that is
suspended by two pivot points at the top and bottom. When electricity
is applied by way of the mercury pools, the bar rotates in a
horizontal plane. One of these motors is on permanent exhibit at the
Smithsonian Institution. Circa 1830s.
- EDISON STOCK TICKER ON ORIGINAL STAND:(8KB)
This Edison Stock Ticker printed the identification and price of
stocks that were traded on the stock exchange in the offices of
subscribers. It is difficult to find these tickers these days,
and especially difficult to find them on the origianl mahogany stand.
- VERY EARLY EDISON ELECTRIC FAN:(18KB)
This is a fine example of an early Edison open frame electric motor
driving a fan.
- UNUSUAL 'POCKET RADIO' Made by Auto Indicator Co.(23KB)
This 'pocket radio' is the only one of its kind known to have
survived. It was made by the Auto Indicator Company in Grand Rapids,
Michigan and uses one tube. It would be hard to fit it into even
the largest pocket.
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the Museum / Telegraph Web Page.
For more information contact:
John Milton Williams c/o
Professor Tom Perera
Montclair State University
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