Lot 229: Guglielmo Marconi

RR Auction

2015-10-06 13:04:57

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Lot 229: Large archive of 31 letters by Marconi, including eight ALSs totaling 41 pages and 23 TLSs totaling 36 pages, dated between 1902 and 1909. Nearly all are to engineer Richard N. Vyvyan, with a handful of others written to his wife. The handwritten letters date from 1902 to 1905, the time of the first transmission of a telegraph signal from Canada to England. On August 5, 1903, Marconi writes: "I have been working very hard to try and find out what are the somewhat occult causes which make signals good one night and unobtainable the next, and also the reason of the great difference in distance over which signals can be sent by day compared to night. For this purpose I have had to carry out a very great number of tests between this station [Poldhu] and other stations on the east coast and in Scotland, and I believe I have found if not very clearly the cause of the effects noticed at least the means by which to obtain signals across the Atlantic by day as well as by night." In a lengthy eight-page letter of May 15, 1904, marked "Private," he reports on "results obtained from the working of the Poldhu station during the last voyage of the S.S. Campania, from Liverpool to New York…I have undertaken to carry out a series of tests to war ships stationed at different points, the receiving apparatus being taken in charge of by our assistants. I shall try various sending arrangements at Poldhu." Marconi also discusses general domestic life, such as his wife, family, and home in Cape Breton.The typed letters date from 1907 to 1909 and are written in Marconi's capacity as managing director to Vyvyan at Glace Bay, concerning day-to-day telegraph operations and equipment, employees, and scheduling. In a letter of August 29, 1907, he writes: "Since my return here from London a few days ago I have been carrying out some interesting work. We are at present using only about half the available power of the plant, and the results of the programme, according to latest reports, are satisfactory in the light of the arrangements which we are using at this end. I hope that, by the time this letter reaches Glace Bay, you will have received the discs which were sent in charge of the operator of the 'Empress of Ireland' last Friday." On May 14, 1908, he writes: "I have your report…and am sorry to note that you are still suffering very much from X-s at your station. It is difficult to understand why these X-s have been so persistent for the last few weeks, and I hope you are doing all in your power to ascertain whether the Receiving apparatus and Receiving Aerial are so adjusted as to allow of the most efficient reception." He continues to address the issue a month later, writing on June 10th, "As I informed you in my previous letter, I hope as soon as I can get back to my experiments to make further improvements in connection with the X-stopping device." In his ongoing attempts to improve the station's equipment later in the year, Marconi writes: "I have to consider ways and means for the proper management of the station during your absence…Before you leave Glace Bay I wish you to order a Generator suitable for producing such a current to drive a 50 H.P. Motor which will be directly coupled to the new disc." These letters are more formal in tone and often briefly touch upon technical subjects.Also of particular interest is Vyvan's handwritten and illustrated manuscript in a quarter-leather notebook, entitled "Notes on Long Distance Wireless Telegraphy and the Design and Construction and Working of High Power Wireless Stations." The comprehensive manuscript covers several aspects of his work in telegraphy under the auspices of Marconi, covering the period of the first transatlantic transmission in 1900 through 1904. At well over one hundred pages, the notebook is full of descriptions of their experiments, tests, equipment, and other details, and is enhanced by an abundance of sketched schematics, diagrams, and charts. In addition to the Marconi letters and Vyvyan's notebook, the archive contains nine ALSs by Ambrose Fleming, who was employed by Marconi as one of Vyvyan's co-workers and later invented the vacuum tube. One of these, in part: "I read of the death of Marconi…The newspapers and magazines do not do justice to the cooperative work of his colleagues…I agree with all you say about M. He had genius of a certain kind but he over-reached himself in thinking that he could appropriate the whole credit for wireless." Included as well are a series of letters by Godfrey C. Isaacs, Alldin Moore, and a letter by Vyvyan to his brother. In overall very good to fine condition, with intersecting folds and office notations to the typed letters, as well as some spreading and brushing to some signatures; all ALSs in fine condition. Lending significant insight into the early development and implementation of Marconi's telegraphic systems, this impressive archive is both vast in quantity and of the utmost scholarly interest. RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 462 Wednesday, 14th October 2015 Estimate: $40000-50000
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