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Item 2113 - 1860s Caton Civil War Spy Pocket Telegraph Set Catalog 588 (Jul 2020)

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(we are no longer accepting bids on this item)
Estimate: $3,000.00 +
Sold Price: $3,375.00 (includes buyer's premium)


Rare circa 1860s Caton lineman's pocket telegraph set, as used by spies during the Civil War. Measuring just 5″ x 2.25″ x 1.25″ in its hard rubber case, this is a complete ultra-portable telegraph sending and receiving system. During the Civil War, telegraph operator spies used these to tap into the enemy's communications systems: a bare wire tossed over uninsulated telegraph lines—and grounded with a bayonet—allowed them to intercept messages or send along false intelligence. This diminutive unit features horizontally mounted sounder coils, a 1.5″ strap telegraph key, and a tiny shorting switch; both the key and the switch have ivory knobs. The center piece is engraved with the maker's name, "Caton, Ottawa, Ill." In fine condition. These were also known as a pocket telegraph machine, cavalryman's portable telegraph key, or Caton Pocket Relay. At the time of their use, the Caton was the highest quality machine on the market.

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