Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company
1880's Automatic Repeater and Transmitter
Highly Collectible Firefighting Items Like This Are Very
Rarely for Sale in such Excellent Condition...
$18,500.00 obo.
For the Discerning Collector of
Firefighting Memorabilia!
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If interested, please contact Ann Hicks: call 303-507-7766 or email.
Last Updated on August 12th 2015


Antique Gamewell Fire Alarm Telco. Automatic Repeater, dating from the 1880's - FOR SALE.

For years my mother has used this beautiful piece as a conversation piece and coffee table in her private home. Now she is moving and no longer has the space for it. Near perfect, original, unrestored and unaltered condition!

Description: 1880-1890 - A very rare ten-circuit Fire Telegraph Repeater, manufactured by Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Co., New York. Enclosed in a beveled glass case with a silver nickel plated frame (probably nickel plated on brass), measuring approximately 60" long, 24" wide and approximately 23" high.

Inscription on the side of the brass frame of the skeleton movement:

THE G.F.A. TELCO, NY  (The Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company, New York)
Pat. Apr.14.68  (Patent dated April 14th, 1868)
Reissued Oct.10.71 (Patent reissued on October 10th, 1871)
Pat. June.14.70 (Patent dated June 14th, 1870)
Pat. July.27.75 (Patent dated July 27th, 1875)
Pat. Jan.6.80 (Patent dated January 6th, 1880)

The intricate weight-driven lacquered-brass skeleton movement is connected to a series of 10 solenoids that completed the circuits to the remote telegraph station boxes. Some of the original wires are still present and connected to the single end where they were when the unit was removed from active service. The wires that remain connected can be see in the photos below.

The brass wire connectors on the dark wood base are in excellent condition. There are two sets of glass doors on each side, WITH the original key, each of the four doors is fully functional. See the photo album below for a clear view of the doors open and closed. With no cracks or damage to the glass or frame, this repeater is remarkably well preserved! With an interesting and artistic shape, and displaying exceptional period workmanship and quality materials, this item can be a beautiful conversation piece for a house, and serves as a functional piece of furniture closely resembling a glass topped coffee table. Or, for the discerning collector it is a rare and historical piece of firefighting memorabilia from the late 1800's.

The automatic repeater was an essential and central part of the complete fire alarm system installed in many cities at the end of the 1800's. The repeater was connected to a number of telegraph station boxes scattered throughout the city. Activation of the switches in these boxes would broadcast a signal to the repeater and the signal would be re-broadcast across all the boxes in the system, with a unique signal from which the location of the fire could be ascertained. An example of one of the Gamewell street telegraph boxes dating from 1879 (note the company logo and trademark cast into the top of the cast iron box) is shown to the right. Please note, we do NOT have one of the telegraph boxes for sale.

The text shown below is taken from a Gamewell & Co. catalog of this era, and it describes the Automatic System for which Gamewell was famous:

Picture left, shows the cover of a representative 1907 Gamewell catalog. Note: we do NOT have a catalog for sale.

Picture right, shows one of the circa 1881 gongs that would have been connected to the repeater to signal the alarm. Note: we do NOT have a gong for sale).

Quoted text from a Gamewell catalog dating from the 1880's:

"The Automatic Central Office is furnished with a battery, lightning arrester, switch-boards, and galvanometers, and is located in an engine house, city hall, police station, or other public building, and is connected by telegraph wires with as many street signal boxes and bell strikers or whistle blowers, and engine-house gongs and indicators, as the size of the city or town may require.

It may, if desired, have call bells and registers similar to the manual central office, but its essential feature is the automatic repeater and transmitter, which instantaneously sends out over all circuits, and to every alarm station (box), each signal received from any of the alarm boxes in any part of the system.

It may be properly said that our automatic telegraph WATCHES ITSELF. If a battery becomes too weak to work efficiently, or an intentional or accidental interruption occurs to any part of the wire, in an instant notice is given by one blow upon all the alarm bells and gongs, calling Attention! to its temporary disabled condition; thus not only keeping watch over the city, but actually watching itself, and guaranteeing reliability every moment.

In a complete Automatic System, such as is herein briefly described, any one who discovers a fire, by opening an alarm box and by (pulling the hook down once), can start into life a series of electric and mechanical movements by means of which bells, whistles, and gongs miles apart are instantaneously sounded, not only alarming firemen and citizens, but announcing to them the locality of the fire.

The cost of an automatic central office system will range from $2,500 to $10,000 or more, according to the number and extent of circuits, and the amount of apparatus required.  In this system no night watchman is required."

(Catalog text source:

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