Alexander Graham Bell Letter Mentioning His Patent Court Case
Item Number: 13507
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell. Inventor of the telephone. Typed letter signed, mentioning the famous legal issues relating to his invention. Bell originally drew up a patent application for his telephone in 1876, but instructed his lawyers to apply for a patent in Britain before receiving his U.S. Patent. Meanwhile, Elisha Gray was also working independently, experimenting a telephone design of his own using a water transmitter. On February 14, 1876, Gray filed a notice of invention with the U.S. Patent Office for a telephone design that used his water transmitter. On the same day, a few hours earlier, Bell's lawyer filed Bell's telephone application with the Patent Office.
Bell then returned to Boston and drew in his notebook and drew in his notebook a diagram similar to that of Gray's patent caveat. On March 10, 1876, Bell's patent was issued. At that point, neither patent was for a working telephone yet. But Bell succeeded a few days later in getting his telephone to work using Gray's liquid transmitter design and spoke the famous line. "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you." Gray challenged the primacy of Bell's patent. And so ensued decades of multiple lawsuits on the invention of the telephone.
20 years before these events, in 1854 in France, Charles Bourseul, an employee of the French Telegraphs Company had published his own design for a working telephone. Another French inventor, Philip Reis in fact was the first to use the word telephone in 1861, and claimed his design was in working order with a low volume by 1863. These cases resulted in multiple legal battles in France that were eventually resolved in Bell's favor.
Ultimately, Bell was the first man to put the elements together in his telephone design and have a useable prototype. And though only by a few hours, he was also the first to patent that design. Offered here is a typed letter signed, 1 page, 8" x 10.5", Nova Scotia, November 27, 1907. The inventor writes to S. R. Wrightington of Boston in part, "Your note of Nov. 12 sent to Washington and the duplicate sent to me here have been received. I know nothing of any fund, 'paid into court in Paris for my benefit which has never been withdrawn'. I should be glad to have you look into the matter for me."
Bell was replying to a letter he had received from Wrightington dated November 12, the original duplicate included in this lot, in that letter, addressed to Bell, Wrightington informs Bell that an attorney in Paris had notified him that "some years ago a fund was paid into Court in Paris for your benefit, which has never been withdrawn." The attorney had requested Wrightington to ask Bell if he wanted him to "collect any monies that may be due you."