The Edelcrantz Telegraph Systems
Abraham Niclas Clewberg-Edelcrantz
Edelcrantz wisely wrote in his Treatise on
- It often happens, with regard to new
that one part of the general public finds them useless and another part
considers them to be impossible.
- When it becomes clear that the possibility
usefulness can no longer be denied, most agree that the whole thing was
fairly easy to discover and that they knew was significant."
Initially, Edelcrantz Experimented with a
From Edelcrantz's A
Treatise on Telegraphs
- "...In September 1794 I began experiments
area which led me to several telegraphic devices, some of which were
and some of which were completely different from the French system, a
of which had still not been made available. Since then I have
these experiments, in order to perfect the design and operation of a
that, after weighing all factors, I believed would combine most
- "The first design I used was similar to
the one in
Paris. AB, in Figure 10, is a vertical rod, to which two others are
CD and EF, movable on axles at G and H in such a manner that GA, GC,
EH are all equal. ...Thereby 4 × 4 = 16 combinations can be
Figure 11, ..."
Edelcrantz's Shutter Telegraph Systems
invention of the telescope in the 17th century
the way for the development of the optical telegraph. The Frenchman
Chappe was in 1793 the first to build a functioning optical telegraph.
In the wake of the French Revolution, the optical telegraph acquired
At the same time as Chappe, the Swede A. N. Edelcrantz
with the optical telegraph in Sweden. In 1794 he inaugurated his
with a poem dedicated to the Swedish King on his birthday. The message
went from the Palace in Stockholm to the King at Drottningholm .
Edelcrantz eventually developed his own system which was quite
from its French counterpart and nearly twice as fast. The system was
on ten collapsible iron shutters. The various positions of the shutters
formed combinations of numbers which were translated into letters ,
or phrases via codebooks. The telegraph network consisted of telegraph
stations positioned at about 10 kilometres from one another.
The Swedish optical telegraph network was restricted to the
of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Karlskrona. Like its French counterpart,
was mainly used for military purposes.
After the Finnish War, the optical telegraph network was allowed
fall into disuse but some 20 years later it was rebuilt and
opened to the public. The traffic, however, was quite insignificant
was partly due to the fact that the optical telegraph could only be
when the weather permitted. When the last telegraph station at Vinga
closed in 1881, the optical telegraph had become obsolete and was
by its electrical counterpart. " (Source)
Edelcrantz Models of Shutter
(Coll. Telemuseum, Stockholm)
Model of a Nine-Shutter Telegraph
ca. 1808 (Source)
Model of a Ten-Shutter Telegraph
Life on the Telegraph
- "...Along with the usual ways of
special, telegraphic system existed in Sweden from 1794 - the optical
It was invented by the Swedish poet and scientist Abraham Niclas
a Royal Counsellor, and consisted of ten shutters, arranged in a
that could be easily read off at a distance. The arrangement of the
formed what today is called a binary system with 10 signal elements - a
predecessor of moden data signal systems. The optical telegraph
a network of linking stations. A signal was successively repeated from
one station to the next until the office of destination was reached.
- Soon telegraph circuits linking
in the neighbourhood of Stockholm were set up and the system was
to Grisslehamn and Åland. Subsequently telegraph circuits
introduced between Gothenburg and Marstrand, at Helsingborg and between
Karlskrona and its fortresses. Sweden was the second country in the
after France, to introduce an optical telegraph network.
- At the outbreak of war against Russia
telegraph lines were rapidly extended to important places on the east
After the peace in 1809, the optical telegraph network in Sweden fell
decay, except for the stations in the Gothenburg area. In the 1830s,
the political situation in Europe became tense and the Swedish
considered it necessary to strengthen coastal defences. The telegraph
was rebuilt and the lines from Stockholm, Gothenburg and Karlskrona
restored to their formerInteriör från den optiska
i Furusund utanför Norrtälje. Telegrafen rekonstruerades 1962 och är den enda i Sverige som fungerar.
state and extended." (Source)
Early (1794) Model of Lord George
(Coll. Victory Museum, England)
Interior of an optical telegraph station
reconstructed in 1962 at Furusund
"Working the Ropes" in a telegraph station on
from London to Deal that
was designed by Lord George Murray.
design is undeniably based on Edelcrantz's.
This page was
prepared and is maintained by R.
Comments to: email@example.com.
November 1, 2005