Butler Indicator or Elevator Indicator?

March 16th, 2010

indicatorI’ve seen these before, mostly noted as elevator indicators but they seem to complicated to have worked with the types of elevator controllers that were built back around the 1900’s. This one noted to be either a butlers station or elevator indicator posts a date of 1882 which is a long time ago.

Have some information on how these might have worked? Comment below!

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Posted in Elevators - 1900-1930, Elevators - Pre 1900's Follow responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  • Jan L.
    March 17th, 2010
    at 3:04 pm

    Altough it is hard to figure out what’s written above or below the pointers, I’m quite sure it one is a service-personell indicator. It had a bell mount on top which would ring when a button is pressed to call for service. At the same time, a coil corresponding to the button pressed was activated which caused the individual pointer to move up about a quarter of to a half turn. If the service person looked at the board and noticed where the call came from, he or she would reset the pointer by pressing the button at the bottom of the box. This button would activate another set of coils at all pointers at the same time so that all pointers get aligned back to their initial position. If over time two or more calls came in, a single touch of a button would reset them all at once. In some cases, the pointers are reset mechanically, I know about various mechanisms. Very similar indicators where used as so called “target anunciators” in elevators to show calls from the floors to the operator. Advanced types had two columns of indicators to distinguish between “up” and “down” calls. The problem with this type is that during hardeer traffic the operator would loose control when calls come in faster than being able to answer – if he had some more calls remaining to answer, there was no chance to reset because he would loose all the information (all remaining “open” calls at once). The calls he already served would remain indicated (because he can’t reset)and lead to confusion later. During this situation, even more calls can come in and cause total confusion. Later the target anunciators where replaced by flashlight anunciators. These used lights instead of pointers or targets and became more sophisticated over the years – for instance by erasing individual calls from the board as they have been served. (In combination with a semi-automatic controller like used in dpt. stores uo to the 1960ies)

    Hope that helps…

  • elevatorpreservation
    March 19th, 2010
    at 8:22 pm

    Thanks Jan! That makes a lot of sense!


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