Lot 288: ALS signed "Sam. F. B. Morse," one page, lightly-lined, 5 x 8, March 1, 1872. Crisply penned letter to Hartford, Connecticut, publishing firm J. B. Burr and Hyde, in full: "The pages (from 1233 to 1247) of a work published by you, entitled 'the great industries of United States' have been sent me by some unknown person. I certainly was greatly surprized at the tone of an article entitled 'The American Telegraph,' being unconscious of having provoked such an ill-natured, spiteful, distorted & untrue statement of professed facts. I presume the author or authors of that article are not ashamed of their work, and will readily consent to reveal themselves. Will you be so good as to give me their names? I request them of you." Reverse bears ink and pencil notations in an unknown hand. In fine condition, with intersecting folds, slight scattered soiling, and a strip of toned tape to reverse. Accompanied by an unsigned engraved portrait of Morse bearing a facsimile signature.Nearly two decades after the courts affirmed his patent claim for the telegraph, Morse continued to face harsh criticism and disbelief of his role in the invention. The article in question characterized him as a dreamer and speculator who rode the coattails of his contemporaries and other scientists until the answers were luckily and cohesively pieced together for him. Morse believed that the men behind it were telegraphy pioneer Henry O'Reilly, the plaintiff in the original suit against him, and F. O. J. Smith, a former assistant who later threatened to sue for construction reimbursements; anxious to defend himself, he wrote the publisher hoping to obtain the names of the anonymous authors with certainty. A bold and unflinching letter written only a month before his death, wonderfully illustrating the firm defensive position he held throughout his career.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 467
Wednesday, 13th January 2016
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