Friday, October 18, 2013

Telegraphic Codes

I've written a bit about Telegraphic codes in the past. You can read about one here. But I recently came across a list of other telegraphic codes. These are for the most part utterly obscure and I will spend years searching for more information, possibly to no end. I can't emphasize this enough... there were hundreds of these code books, each with numerous improved, expanded, specialized and updated editions.Not all of them were in widespread use (some surely weren't used at all). To the contrary, most of them appear to specialize in niche-markets. There were code books for mining, leather, shipping, lumber, stock prices and many others. As archaic as this practice is, some code books remained in print into the 1940s!

This list below draws strongly on a Lloyd's Shipping Register of1921. I also used Palmer & Howe's 1906 List of telegraph codes, the digitized code books on and the 1911 edition of the Declaration of London which lists off telegraph codes in print at that time. I also referred to the very impressive website of John Mcvey here and some of S.Tomokiyo's writing here. I've omitted police and fire codes as well as non-English language code books from this list for space reasons.

Adam's Cable Codex
Anderson's Expert Cypher Words
Anglo-American Cable Code
Anglo-International Cable Code
Atlantic Cable Directory
Atlantic Cotton Telegraph Code
Atlas Universal Travelers' Telegraphic Cipher Code
Ager's Shipping Telegram Code [LINK]
Ager's Standard Telegram Code
Ager's Alphabetical Telegram Code
Australian railway telegraphic code
AYZ Telegram Code
Broomhall's Comprehensive Cipher Code
Baltimore Export Cable Code
Bedford McNeil's Mining and General Telegraphic Code
Beith's 10-Letter Combinations 
Bentley's Complete Phrase Code [LINK]
Bennett's Cypher Code for Steamship Owners and Brokers
Bentley's Baltic and White Sea Code [LINK]
Berne's Official Vocabulary
Bi-Literal Telegraph Cipher for Code Messages
Billionaire Phrase Code
Bink's Cut-Rate Cable Code
Bishop's Travellers Telegraph Code
Bloomer's Commercial Cryptograph [LINK]
Brentano’s Telegraph and Cable Code [LINK]
British and Foreign Trade Shipping Code
Broomhall Miniature Code
Century Standard Code
Cheeseborough Private Telegraphic Code
Chestnutt, Cooper & Co. Bristle Code
Clare's Telegraphic Code for Black Sea and Mediterranean Trade
Clauson-Thue A.B.C. Universal Commercial Electric Telegraphic Code
Clauson-Thue A1 Universal Commercial Electric Telegraphic Code
Corby's Code for Drapers
Cornforth Telegraphic Code
Crossley's Cable Code
Cook's Unicode
Dieckelmann's Code
D.M. Ferry & Co Wholesale Trade List & Telegraphic Code [LINK]
Dunn's Cypher Code
Durst Telegraphic Code
Figure Code for Stocks and Shares
Gallesi's Commercial Telegraphic Code
Gerrish System Telegraphic Cipher Code 
Gilburt's Tourists Telegraphic Code
Globe Commercial Telegraph Code [LINK]
Glover Brothers Telegraphic Code
Grain Trade Standard Code
Great Western Railway Telegraphic Code
Hamilton's Telegraphic Code of Numeral Quotations
Hancock Telegraph Code
Hartfield's Wall Street Code
Harvey's Cosmopolitan Cable Code
Hawke's Tables for Telegraphing
Hawke's Inland and Foreign Telegram Code
Hawke's Maximum Cyphers
Heath Telegraphic Cipher [LINK]
Heath & Finnemore Private Telegraphic Code
Hendiploun, a Telegraphic Code
Herbert's Universal-Simplex Code System
Hinrich's Shipbrokers' and Steamship Cable Code
Igha Telegraph Code and Tables
Ironscrap Telegraph Code
International Telegraphic Code
Jeweller's Telegraphic Code
Jones's Universal Shipping Telegraph Code
Kraipnos Telegraphic Shorthand
Keegan's International Three-Letter Code
Kerr & Gordon Private Cipher Code
Kendell's Figure Cypher Code
Kolkenbeck's Ideal Code Condenser
Laurie's Universal Code
Lawrie's Pocket Telegraphic Code
Lieber's Standard Telegraph Code [LINK]
Leviathan Cable Code
Lieber's Standard Telegraphic Code
Longford Wire Cable Code
Low's Pocket Cable Code
Lumberman's Standard Telegraphic Code  [LINK]
Maguire’s Code of Ciphers
Mackay's One Word Telegraph Code
Manchester Piece Goods and General Phrase Code
Massey-Harris Telegraphic Code
McNeill’s Code [LINK]
McNichol's Nine Figure Code
Mercury Code
Meyer's Atlantic Cotton Code
Meyer's Anglo-American Cotton Code
Meyer's Commercial Telegraph Code 
Meyer's International Mercantile Telegraph Code
Murray's Insurance and Maritime Telegraphic Code
Marconi International Code
Miners and Smelters Code (aka Master telegraph Code)
Mitchell's Code
Montgomery Code
Moreing & McCutcheon's General Commercial and Mining Telegram Code
Moreing & Neal's New General and Mining Telegraph Code
Musgrove Private Telegraphic Code
National Tube Works Pocket Companion Telegraphic Code
Nattini Codice Telegráfico Commerciale e Mercantile
Pain's Directory Code
Pacific Railway Company Private Mining & Metallurgical Telegraphic Cipher Code
Parker's Economical Code for Piece Goods Code (aka Parker’s Combination Code)
Patakys Telegraphic Code
Penny's Cipher Code
Perfect Cypher Code
Peycke's Abbreviation Key [LINK]
Peycke's Ekonomik Telegraphic Cipher Code
Phillip's Telegraphic Code for Rapid Transmission [LINK]
Pieron's Code Condenser
Piggott's Cable Code
Premier Cypher Telegraphic Code [LINK]
Prentice's Cable Code
Private Cable Code for the Timber Trade by Price and Peirce [LINK]
Repetition Code
Riverside Code
Rohde's Code Words and Terminal Key
Ross-Moss Phrase and Combination Code
Everybody's Pocket Code by W.M. Saunders
Scattergood's Fruit Merchants Cable Code
Scott's Shipowners' Telegraphic Code [LINK]
Schnore's Telegraphic Code
Shepperson's Telegraphic Cipher Code (cotton trade)  [LINK]
Simplex Telegraphic Code
Slater's Telegraph Code [LINK]
Southard & Co.'s Telegraphic Cypher
Spalding’s Telegram Guide [LINK]
Standard Shipping Code
Steven's Engineering Telegraph Code
Stewart's Five Letter Telegraph Code
Stockbrokers Telegraph Code
Sutherlands K.K. the Complete Code
Swift's Private Telegraphic Code
Tahl's Telegraphic Code
Timber Trades Universal Code
Timber Trades Journal New Zebra Code
Tracey's Tenmil Code 
Tybo Code
Unicode Universal Phrase Book [LINK]
Universal Alphabetical Figure and Column Cable Code
Universal Shipping Telegraph Code
V.A.J. Figure Code for Stocks
Victoria Code
Vicker's Mariners and Family Cable Code
Voller's 12-Figure System
Voller's 9-Figure System
Victorian Railways' Telegraph Code Book [LINK]
Watkins' Code, 1881 (aka Shipbrokers' Telegraphic Code)
Watt's Telegraphic Cypher (multiple editions)
Watkins' Universal Shipping Code (multiple editions)
Watson Cable Code
Wray's Telegraphic Code
Western Union (Five Letter)
Wetmore's Commercial Telegraphic Code
Western Union Telegraphic Code and International Cable
Whitelaw's Telegraphic Cyphers with Terminal Order
Widebrook's Code
Williams & Brown Private Telegraphic Code
Wilson's Ship Brokers Telegraph Code [LINK]
Whitelaw's  Telegraph Cyphers
Whittingham’s Skeleton Telegraph Code [LINK]
Wilson's Shipbrokers' Code
Wood's Bohemian Telegraph Code
U.S. Steel Corporation Private Telegraphic Code

I am continuing this research on a page here.


  1. That is a great list. The links are great too.

    Here is a link for the Phillip's Telegraph Code

  2. I added your link. It's a shame these code books are so hard to find. It's a lost art. In all my years I've only found one text myself... the others I see on fleabay cost hundreds.

  3. FYI: I found another good source and added more codes and more links

  4. Anonymous1:44 AM


    Interesting topic. There is a short article here, that I assisted IBM researcher Jim Reeds with a number of years ago. (you will find my name listed near the end. There article is here:

    I still have some 20 or so code books that I purchased from a woman who's father operated a commercial code library. Although I am currently at work (I am an RN 7p to 7a) If you will contact me I can send you a list of what I have. I might be willing to part with a few of them at this point ..

    Wesley Horton K0WHH

  5. Today I ran across a copy of "The Fifth Mongomery Code by Montgomery ROllins. copyright 1898, 1910, and in looking for information, landed here. The copy I have is bound like a pocked bible or dictionary, with a soft leather cover, thin but high-quality paper, and alphabetic tabs cut into the page edges.

    The Montgomery Code is intended for the banking and investment business, and uses proper words (from multiple languages defined in telegraphic regulations) in order to loophole telegraph company regulations attempting to restrict use of abbreviation, acronyms, and other cost-saving measures in telegrams.

    I can pretty-well confirm that this code was actually used. The copy I have is well thumbed and in areas provided, has hand-written additions to the code. Inside, my copy is stamped "Return to Morris Brothers, Railway Exchange Building, Portland, Oregon, and most of the neatly written additions I've seen refer to northwest US companies and governments.