Mirror galvanometer for the transatlantic telegraph, 1858

Made:
1858 in Glasgow
inventor:
William Thomson
maker:
James White

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

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

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

One of the first mirror galvanometers for reading the messages through submarine cables. This mirror galvanometer was
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

One of the first mirror galvanometers for reading the messages through submarine cables. This mirror galvanometer was
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Mirror galvanometer invented by Lord Kelvin and used at the Newfoundland end of the 1858 transatlantic cable, made by James White, Glasgow, Scotland, 1858.

Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, (1824-1907) was Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University, and was well known for his work in many branches of physics, including electricity. The first transatlantic telegraph cable was layed in 1858, reducing the time it took for messages to cross from days or months to hours. The success of the system relied on an instrument that could detect the tiny electrical signals that had passed so far under the sea. Thomson's galvanometer was the only instrument sensitive enough to detect reliably the first transatlantic telegraph messages. This mirror galvanometer was used at the Newfoundland end of the cable. A galvanometer is an instrument for detecting small electric currents. A small magnet is mounted at the back of a smaller circular mirror, suspended within a magnetising coil. When a current passes through the coil, the magnet is deflected, causing the mirror to move and a beam of light reflected from it to move along a scale.

On display

Science Museum: Information Age Gallery: Cable

If you are visiting to see this object, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.

Related people

Details

Category:
Electricity and Magnetism
Object Number:
1876-68
Materials:
brass (copper, zinc alloy), copper (alloy), leather, not recorded, wax, wood (unidentified)
type:
galvanometer
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • measuring device - instrument
credit:
Donated by Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)
status:
Permanent collection

Cite this page

Rights

We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.


Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero


Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data

Download

Download catalogue entry as json

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.