Autographic telegraph, known as the 'Pantelegraph'

Giovanni Caselli, Paul Gustave Froment1861

Musée des arts et métiers

Musée des arts et métiers

Caselli’s autographic telegraph transmitted facsimiles, drawings and handwritten texts. The dispatch was written with insulating ink on tin foil scanned by a stylus. At the reception point a stylus moved across a sheet of paper coated with a chemical solution; the electrical current produced a chemical reaction, revealing the sent message. The movement of the styluses was controlled by two regulating chronometers at the transmission and reception stations, synchronised by electromagnets. The price of a transmission was set at a prohibitive 20 centimes per square centimetre, and only two lines were installed. The device was unsuccessful and the system abandoned. ‘The Caselli telegraph is now merely a museum piece, a memorable example of the fate awaiting the most ingenious inventions when they do not cater for any real need,’ a journalist wrote in Caselli’s obituary. Yet the Pantelegraph was a precursor of the fax machine …

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  • Title: Autographic telegraph, known as the 'Pantelegraph'
  • Creator: Giovanni Caselli, Paul Gustave Froment
  • Date: 1861
  • Date Created: 1861
  • Location: France
  • Provenance: Musée des arts et métiers
  • Contributor: Author: Marie-Sophie Corcy. English translation: David Wharry
  • Inventory number: Inv. 10581
  • Credits: © Musée des arts et métiers-Cnam/photo Pascal Faligot