Lot 377 of 455:
1846 letter on invention of first Telegraph Printer  

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“Father of Submarine Telegraphy” on American invention of Printing Telegraph - letter

Brett, J.[acob] C.



Sept. 14, 1846


Autograph Letter Signed. 4pp. To James C,[hristy] Bell, London, American agent for Royal Earl House, inventor of the first Printing Telegraph

An important letter by Brett, who owned the European rights to a machine invented by New Yorker Royal Earl House, represented in London by Bell,  brother of a prominent New York Quaker shipping merchant, to print out messages sent over a distance by telegraph wire, also mentioning Brett’s interest in communication links between continents by underwater telegraph cable.

Jacob Brett’s elder brother (and roommate) John Watkins Brett, has been called the “father of Submarine Telegraphy”, but Jacob might share that historical honor. The year before, Jacob and John, an art dealer and furniture manufacturer who had earlier lived in America, had formed a company to link England to North America and the European continent by underwater telegraph cable. This letter notes that Jacob was trying to raise money for his own pet project, to first lay a Marine telegraph line, an “Oceanic Wire”, across the English Channel, from Dover to Calais. At the same time, Brett was seeking funds for European exploitation of House’s invention, offering to give House, through Bell, the benefit of his own “grand experiment” for an improvement on the House design, which he explains in detail, with diagrams, in this letter. Brett's British patent for the House machine would mention an “oceanic line” in passing, but it was brother John who would focus on this for the decade preceding the first successful Atlantic cable, having constructed a mechanism that would make this technological marvel possible.

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