telegraphic codes and message practice
A.B.C. Telegraphic Codes (seven editions 1873-1936)
codes of Edmund Peycke (1900 – 1918)
meteorological codes (various, including 1896, 1939)
also, ice codes, including International Code for Polar Ice (København 1937)
specimen pages (descriptions, analysis and images of various codes, mostly not available in digital form)
resources (contemporary treatments, &c.)
Dictionaries of phrases and codewords or cipher components were commonly used in the age of telegraphy to compress messages and thereby economize on wire costs, and to achieve some secrecy for communications.
There were different kinds of codes, different arrangements of phrase matter, different means of assembling and dis-assembling messages. Typically, a sender would choose from the dictionary’ss selections those phrases or expressions (about the quality of cotton, for example) that satisfied his intentions, and take the codewords associated with the selections. It is the coded message, packaged for transport, that would be processed and sent along its way by the telegraph or cable company. The recipient of the message would unpack its original meanings by looking the code words up in another copy of the same dictionary — they were listed in alphabetical order — or by following a sequence of other procedures to arrive at the meaning.
Thousands of codes were published or issued privately, but they are largely forgotten now. They present a finely-grained window into their respective domains and their time. And they provide instances of sometimes stunning visual, technical, lexicographic and unwitting poetic achievement.
A list of codes for which a digital scan is available can be found here. For a number of these codes, I provide some descriptive and analytical information, as well as images showing characteristic details (e.g., use of tables, phrase sequences, etc.).