In 1872 the Shanghai-based newspaper Shenbao described an invention by Giovanni Caselli that allowed the production of telegraphic messages containing Chinese characters, the ‘pantelegraph’, an ancestor of the fax, reproducing manu- scripts, images and symbols, and, as such, totally suitable for Chinese telegraphy. In 1863, the Italian inventor had shown his invention to a legation of Chinese diplomats in France, producing some impressive Chinese transmissions, the caselligrammi. The envoys reported this information back home, but for some reasons a commercial contact was only set twenty years later. Although in many ways this seemed to be a perfectly suitable solution for the telegraphic communication in Chinese, it was never applied in China and the reasons are revealed by a recently discovered account of the Italian Minister Plenipotentiary in China at that time, Ferdinando De Luca, which Caselli himself had copied and saved. The aim of this article is to explore a moment of Chinese and western media history that, to this day, remains relatively unknown. It will discuss an original example of western communication technology and the attempts that were made to lead for its application in China, revealing its strong points and the reasons that ultimately led to its failure.

VINCI, R. (2016). A Telegraph for China: The Attempted Application of Caselli’s Pantelegraph to Transmit Chinese Characters, 1856−87. INTERACTIONS, 7(3), 247-263 [10.1386/iscc.7.3.247_1].

A Telegraph for China: The Attempted Application of Caselli’s Pantelegraph to Transmit Chinese Characters, 1856−87

VINCI, RENATA
2016

Abstract

In 1872 the Shanghai-based newspaper Shenbao described an invention by Giovanni Caselli that allowed the production of telegraphic messages containing Chinese characters, the ‘pantelegraph’, an ancestor of the fax, reproducing manu- scripts, images and symbols, and, as such, totally suitable for Chinese telegraphy. In 1863, the Italian inventor had shown his invention to a legation of Chinese diplomats in France, producing some impressive Chinese transmissions, the caselligrammi. The envoys reported this information back home, but for some reasons a commercial contact was only set twenty years later. Although in many ways this seemed to be a perfectly suitable solution for the telegraphic communication in Chinese, it was never applied in China and the reasons are revealed by a recently discovered account of the Italian Minister Plenipotentiary in China at that time, Ferdinando De Luca, which Caselli himself had copied and saved. The aim of this article is to explore a moment of Chinese and western media history that, to this day, remains relatively unknown. It will discuss an original example of western communication technology and the attempts that were made to lead for its application in China, revealing its strong points and the reasons that ultimately led to its failure.
VINCI, R. (2016). A Telegraph for China: The Attempted Application of Caselli’s Pantelegraph to Transmit Chinese Characters, 1856−87. INTERACTIONS, 7(3), 247-263 [10.1386/iscc.7.3.247_1].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/522167
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