The Atlantic Telegraph

Various artists/makers

Not on view

This book documents the great 19th century technological achievement of laying a telegraphic cable beneath the Atlantic to allow messages to speed back and forth between North America and Europe in minutes, rather than the ten or twelve days it took to cross the ocean by steamer. Led by Cyrus W. Field and financed by the Atlantic Telegraph Company, an initially successful attempt in 1858 failed after three weeks. Repeated efforts by Field, a cadre of engineers, technicians, and sailors, backed by two groups of investors with help from the British and American navies, finally produced two working cables in July and September 1866. Illustrations here reproduce watercolors by Robert Dudley that document the extended, arduous process, and the title page shows sailors raising the anchor of the Great Eastern as the ship sets out from the Thames Estuary on July 15, 1865, fully loaded with cable. Field donated this book and related art works by Dudley to the Museum in 1892, together with commemorative medals, memorabilia, and specimens of cable.

The Atlantic Telegraph, Sir William Howard Russell (Irish, Tallaght, Dublin 1820–1907 London), Illustrations: color lithographs

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