Lot 224: Samuel F. B. Morse

RR Auction

2015-08-21 10:51:46

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Lot 224: ALS signed "Sam'l F. B. Morse," one page, 7.75 x 9.75, August 8, 1854. Letter to prominent businessman Samuel Colgate. In part: "I write you once more in respect to your proxies at the Annual Meeting of the N.Y.—Alb.—& Buffalo Teleg. Co. My friends in Utica warn me in the strongest manner against the machinations of Mr. B. the Prest. who if perseverance can do it seems determined to carry his ruinous project by any means. It would be a matter of deep mortification to me and not of pleasant reflection to yourself in the retrospect if your proxies should be the means of giving a triumph to my enemies to those who are determined to rob me at all hazards and sit me at defiance. I do not ask you to give your proxies to me, without you can thoroughly understand the bearing of the present measures proposed, and are then persuaded that you would be rising your vote against me & my interests most disastrously in supporting the plausible plan proposed by B. & the House pirates. What I ask is that you will not recklessly put a weapon into the hands of my opponents seriously to wound me. Be present yourself at the meeting or if you are in doubt, at least be neutral. If you cannot as I could wish have sufficient confidence in my representation, that mischief will ensue to me if B's measures are carried, yet I may hope that you will not deliberately lend your aid directly to produce the mischief." In fine condition, with intersecting folds and some feathering to ink throughout.During this period Morse faced numerous patent disputes as other inventors developed new telegraphic methods. He mentions his chief competitors in this letter, "Mr. B." and "the House pirates," presumably referencing Alexander Bain and Royal E. House, both of whom had developed their own telegraph systems. Morse took part in legal battles in hopes of protecting his invention and quashing his competition, and earlier in 1854 had found one of his cases, O'Reilly v. Morse, before the United States Supreme Court. Morse lost his fight in the landmark case, which determined that abstract ideas were not eligible for patents; this decision has since become extremely important in the field of computer software. Morse's sense of urgency and tone in this letter reveal his fearfulness for his business now that his "enemies" were authorized by the courts. RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460 Wednesday, 16th September 2015 Estimate: $1000-1500
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