Highly desirable circa 1860s Civil War-era 'camelback' telegraph key by G. M. Phelps, handsomely crafted from brass with hairpin spring and shorting switch on the side, engraved "G. M. Phelps Maker" on the key's edge, "Wutel Co." on the top, and marked with serial number "4074" on the base. The long threaded mounting legs remain intact. In very good condition, with overall tarnishing to the finish. The Phelps 'camelback' key—so named for the hump at the center—was the most widely used telegraph key during the Civil War. They were produced from about 1853 to 1865, before being abandoned for an improved design; the steel trunnion shaft, press-fit into the lever, would gradually become loose after prolonged use, rendering the key unusable so relatively few have survived.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.