Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, 1816

Made:
1816 in Hammersmith
maker:
Francis Ronalds
Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, 1816 (telegraph) Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, 1816 (telegraph) Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, 1816 (telegraph) Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, 1816 (telegraph) Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, 1816 (telegraph) Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, 1816 (telegraph)

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Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence

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Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence

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Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, Sir Francis Ronalds, Hammersmith, 1816. With replica dial, unknown maker, 1816-1894. In glazed mahogany case, made by Science Museum Workshops, London, England, 1994. Also, diagram of Sir Francis Ronalds' 1816 electrostatic telegraph, in glazed mahogany frame, made by Science Museum, London, England, 1920-1929.

This is part of the early telegraph system that the inventor Sir Francis Ronalds installed in the garden in his house in Hammersmith. The wire is original, while the dial is a reconstruction. Ronalds used a line charged with static electricity, with a pair of pith balls at each end. Pith balls are small, lightweight objects that are good at picking up charges. When the line was charged, the two pith balls would move away from each other. When the line was earthed, they would drop. At each end of the line, there was also a dial, with the two being driven by clockwork at the same speed. The sender would discharge the line when the letter desired reached the top of the clockwork dial at one end. This caused the pith balls at the other end to drop, and allowed the receiver to see which letter they dropped at.

Details

Category:
Telecommunications
Object Number:
1894-158
Materials:
mahogany (wood), wax, copper (alloy) and glass
Measurements:
overall: 120 mm x 540 mm x 440 mm, 6.46 kg
type:
telegraph
credit:
Donated by H.M. Postmaster General

Parts

Part of electrostatic telegraph, 1816

Part of electrostatic telegraph, 1816

Part of electrostatic telegraph, made by Sir Francis Ronalds, London, England, 1816.

This is part of the early telegraph system that the inventor Sir Francis Ronalds installed in the garden in his house in Hammersmith. The wire is original, while the dial is a reconstruction. Ronalds used a line charged with static electricity, with a pair of pith balls at each end. Pith balls are small, lightweight objects that are good at picking up charges. When the line was charged, the two pith balls would move away from each other. When the line was earthed, they would drop. At each end of the line, there was also a dial, with the two being driven by clockwork at the same speed. The sender would discharge the line when the letter desired reached the top of the clockwork dial at one end. This caused the pith balls at the other end to drop, and allowed the receiver to see which letter they dropped at.

Measurements:
overall: 60 mm x 450 mm x 100 mm, Wt. 3kg Est
Materials:
brass (copper, zinc alloy) , textile , plastic (unidentified) and iron
Object Number:
1894-158 Pt1
type:
component - object and telegraph
Display case, 1994

Display case, 1994

Glazed mahogany case, made by Science Museum Workshops, London, England, 1994. Used to display part of electrostatic telegraph, made by Sir Francis Ronalds, London, England, 1816.

This is part of the early telegraph system that the inventor Sir Francis Ronalds installed in the garden in his house in Hammersmith. The wire is original, while the dial is a reconstruction. Ronalds used a line charged with static electricity, with a pair of pith balls at each end. Pith balls are small, lightweight objects that are good at picking up charges. When the line was charged, the two pith balls would move away from each other. When the line was earthed, they would drop. At each end of the line, there was also a dial, with the two being driven by clockwork at the same speed. The sender would discharge the line when the letter desired reached the top of the clockwork dial at one end. This caused the pith balls at the other end to drop, and allowed the receiver to see which letter they dropped at.

Measurements:
overall: 118 mm x 548 mm x 441 mm, Wt. 3kg (Est.)
Materials:
mahogany (wood) , glass , paper (fibre product) and teak (wood)
Object Number:
1894-158 Pt2
type:
exhibit case
Two bronze screws from the Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph

Two bronze screws from the Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph

Two bronze screws from the Portions of Ronalds' electrostatic telegraph, unmarked, London, United Kingdom, 1816-1894. In crystal box

Materials:
bronze (copper, tin alloy)
Object Number:
1894-158/4
type:
telegraph