telegraphic codes and message practice
scanned code directory

catalogue codes

Manufacturers and others typically incorporated telegraphic codes within their catalogues. These volumes might provide one or two pages of general phrases relating to orders and queries, and a codeword for each of the items listed. These companies might also specify which general or specialized code(s) they employed; their own codewords would not conflict with those codes. I call these catalogue codes for convenience, in part to allow me to list them apart from other more elaborate codes. I’ve not attempted to devise rules by which catalogue codes could be differentiated from ordinary private codes, which themselves might have catalogue-like sections as well.

There were countless such codes — countless meaning both many, and many lost. Scans exist for a good number of them.

1898     General Machinery Catalogue     The Niles Tool Works Co.
1898     Hunting Talking Machine Telegraphic Code     Bettini Phonograph Laboratory
1900     General Machinery Catalogue No. 4     The Niles Tool Works Co.
1905     Illustrated Catalogue of Pumps and Hydraulic Machinery     The Deming Company
1908     Wellcome’s Excerpta Therapeutica


1898 Telegraphic Code
pp 529-571 and throughout, General Machinery Catalogue
machineryThe Niles Tool Works Co.
Hamilton, Ohio

The code words used to designate the various machines on the preceding pages do not conflict with Lieber’s Standard Telegraphic Code, and can, therefore, be used in connection with it without any confusion. Below will be found a selection of phrases with their corresponding code words which will, it is believed, be very convenient in ordering from this catalogue. Both words and phrases were selected from the Lieber Code which is regularly used by us and to which we would refer those desiring greater variety, or who are unable to express their meaning with the phrases given.

Bataholas / At the price of
Pinturn / Patent Portable Crank-Pin Turning Machine (page 181)


1898 Hunting talking machine telegraphic code, 1898. Compiled for the talking machine trade and useful in mercantile lines where code telegraphy is desired. Including a complete and classified list of each and every separate part of all talking machines (and accessories) yet invented. Compiled by Russell Hunting (for the Bettini phonograph laboratory).

phonograph equipment, recordsRussell Hunting, comp.
New York
Bettini Phonograph Library
BNF   catalogue, links to
Gallica   scan
  digitized March 12, 2012

Introduction (includes instructions, acknowledgements) pp 3-9;
Index pp xi-xxiii;
Part I (all phrases, including money, dates, etc.) pp 1-168;
Part II Edison Phonograph Section pp169-204 (omits unnumbered introductory pages);
Part II (sic) Graphophone Section pp 205-290 (ditto);
Bettini Attachments pp 291-292 (ditto)

Code word initials agree with topic initials, e.g., Abayant for Agents, Salesmen, etc.

Cover and title page (not spread), Hunting talking machine telegraphic code (1898)  

Only several pages are devoted to records —

Pages 90-91, in Hunting talking machine telegraphic code (1898)  

The bulk of the code regards orders, shipment and account details, etc.

Pages 169 and 180 (not spread), in Edison Phonograph Section, Hunting talking machine telegraphic code (1898)  

Inclusion of phonographs, parts, etc., for three different companies would shorten the useful life of this code.


1900 Telegraphic Code
pp 529-570 and throughout, General Machinery Catalogue
machineryThe Niles Tool Works Co.
Hamilton, Ohio

The significant difference between this 1900 catalogue code and its 1898 predecessor seems to be the addition of a General Machinery Index that concludes the book, pages 571-76. The title page identifies this as catalogue No. 4; the 1898 edition carries no such designation there.

The code is divided in two parts: pages 529-532, providing the usual general phrases regarding shipments and orders; and pages 533-70, which provides the code words in alphabetical order, next to their machine meaning/reference and, in a third column, the page on which the machine description (and code reference) is to be found.

pages 529 and 538 (not a spread, and here cropped from uncertain borders) from Niles Tool Works General Machinery Catalogue (1900)  

Shown above is the first code page, and a later page in which codewords are arranged alphabetically, followed by their machine meaning/reference, and the page in which the respective machine descriptions are are located. Note the codewords Foolify, Foolifying, Foolishly and Foolscap — all to be found on page 71, and separated here by other codewords from page 131.

pages 70 and 71 (cropped, from uncertain borders) from Niles Tool Works General Machinery Catalogue (1900)  

Shown above is a spread from the catalogue section, with telegraphic code words for specific models and/or configurations. Foolify, Foolifying, Foolishly, Foolscap.


1905 Telegraph Cipher Code
pp 4-5, Illustrated Catalogue of Pumps and Hydraulic Machinery (Number 22)
machineryThe Deming Company
Salem, Ohio
NYPL, digitized April 27, 2011

297pp; 20cm (in NYPL cat)

A great part of the articles listed in this catalogue are given Cipher words or names by which they may be ordered by telegraph.

The specimens below include one of the two code pages, and a typical presentation of pumps in various configurations and diameters, each with its respective code word. Deming also uses the ABC 4th Edition and the Western Union Telegraphic Code.

pages 4 and 41 (detail, not spread) from Deming Illustrated Catalogue of Pumps and Hydraulic Machinery (1905)  


1908 Wellcome’s Excerpta Therapeuticapharmaeuticals(Canadian Edition), Burroughs Welcome & Co., Londongoogle

Section Serums and Serum-Therapy (pp 137-44) includes a telegraphic code (pp 142-144), accompanied by this instruction —

When therapeutic serums are ordered by telegram, it is often undesirable to use the words Diphtheria, etc. A telegraphic and cable code for ordering serums has therefore been adopted. It consists of ROOTS and TERMINATIONS. The ROOTS appear in the margin opposite the serum they indicate. The TERMINATIONS are given below and indicate quantities and sizes.

Send six phials of Diphtheria Antitoxic Serum (’Wellcome’) each containing 5000 units in 5 cc. =
Send five phials of Anti-venom Serum (’Wellcome’) each containing 25 c.c. =

  One Three Six 1 doz.

Arrangements are made at the London Offices for the immediate dispatch of telegraphic orders for serums received between the hours of 9 a.m. on week-days, and 3 to 3.30 p.m. on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

A tipped-in Addendum provides 5L codewords for Diphtheria Antitoxic Serum (available in 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000 units — JORAS, JORIM, JORUH and JOSER), and Anti-Streptococcus Serum (in 10 c.c. syringe containers — JOSIV).