Lot 308: Extraordinary archive of documents related to the financing and construction of Morse's telegraph, consisting primarily of third-person ADSs in the form of accounting records and payment receipts; in total, there are twenty-seven ADSs by Morse. The primary item is an ADS signed "Sam. F. B. Morse, Superintendent, Elec. Mag. Tel.," one page, 8 x 13, March 20, 1845. Headed, "Copy. Abstract B. of Expenditures on act. of Contingencies for the Elec. Mag. Teleg. for the month ending Feby. 10th 1845….[and] March 20, 1845." Penned entirely in Morse's hand, the document breaks down expenses into accounting vouchers numbered between 811 and 832, with dates from January 17 through March 12. It is worth noting that two of these are payments to his assistant, Alfred Vail, who received Morse's famous first telegraph message.
Three of the vouchers listed are included, all of which are in Morse's hand, as well as a series of subvouchers that itemize the individual expenses, the majority also in Morse's hand. First is voucher "813," a third-person ADS signed within the header, "Professor Samuel F. B. Morse for United States Telegraph, To David Burbank, Baltimore," one page, 7.5 x 12, January 13, 1845. The document lists bills and receipts from various parties between December 7, 1844, and January 13, 1845, with labels "A" through "O" indicating their corresponding subvouchers. Twenty-one of the subvouchers are included, fifteen of which are accomplished in his own hand; fourteen of these contain his third-person signature within the body as the account holder, "Professor Morse's Telegraph," "Morse's United States Telegraph," "Prof. Morse's Telegraph," or some similar variation. An autograph receipt by Morse is also affixed to the main voucher, signed in the third person, "Professor Samuel F. B. Morse, Superintendent of Telegraph."
Second is voucher "821," a third-person ADS signed within the header, "Professor Samuel F. B. Morse for 'Morse Telegraph,' To David Burbank, Baltimore," one page, 7.75 x 9.75, February 8, 1845. The document lists bills and receipts from various parties between January 18 and February 8, 1845, with labels "A" through "L" indicating their corresponding subvouchers. Eleven of the subvouchers are included, eight of which are accomplished in Morse's hand. These generally measure approximately 7.5 x 2.5 and have three lines written by Morse to indicate the date, amount, and payee, and all contain his third-person signature within the body as the account holder, "Professor Morse's Telegraph" or "Morse's Telegraph."
Third is voucher "829B," a third-person ADS signed within the header, "Sales of copper wire, on a/c of Professor Samuel F. B. Morse per 'Morse's Telegraph.'" Also includes a few related documents and ephemera, including: an 1869 patent transfer document for the rights to an "Electro-magnetic Printing Telegraph," assigning the rights from Henry N. Baker to Samuel S. Laws (Morse not mentioned); an original cabinet photo of Morse by Bogardus of New York; and a printed form letter by US Treasurer William Selden. In overall very good to fine condition, with repaired separations to horizontal folds of the first voucher.
On March 3, 1843, Congress had passed an act appropriating $30,000 for construction of an experimental 38-mile telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore along the right-of-way of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, specifically naming Morse as the superintendent of the project. Construction of the telegraph finished in May of the following year, and it was officially opened on May 24, 1844, when Morse sent the now-famous words, 'What hath God wrought,' from the Supreme Court chamber in the Capitol to Mount Clare Station in Baltimore. This was the first long-distance telegraph system set up to run overland in the United States—the first step of a communications revolution.
The expenses meticulously recorded in these documents relate either to continued construction or maintenance of the new telegraph lines. Around this time, Morse was anxiously awaiting a decision from Congress regarding an extension of the line from Baltimore to New York—this project, however, never came to fruition. He soon went into business with Burbank, who is frequently mentioned throughout this archive, and together they founded the Magnetic Telegraph Company in Baltimore in May 1845.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs And Artifacts Auction 471
Wednesday, 9th March 2016
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