Incredible and historically significant ALS signed “Your affectionate husband, Alec,” four pages on two adjoining lightly-lined sheets, 4.75 x 8, July 2, 1880. An outstanding letter to his wife, in full: “My darling, I am sorry to pain you-but I am thoroughly aroused as to the necessity of instant action on my part if I wish to avoid being deprived of whatever rights I may possess in the countries yet remaining to me. The action of the International Company is simply in-explicable and your father’s letter to Mr. Converse is so astounding (when we consider that he knows how dis-satisfied I have been) that I have determined that the International Company shall not be blindfolded regarding my feelings any more.
I am sorry that the letter was sent to the wrong Mr. Converse-but it cannot be helped now. I enclose a copy of my letter to the directors of the International Bell Telephone Co.-and a copy of the whole correspondence with Converse, Forbes, and the Intern. Co. will be sent to Mr. Hubbard. I think that I have contributed sufficiently to the pecuniary interest of the Hubbard family, and think it is now my duty to look after the Bells. I propose organizing a company myself for their benefit, and forego my Laboratory Yacht. I shall convert if necessary all my Continental stock into cash & invest it in the new company. Charlie will be here tonight to help me settle the preliminaries.
We can send Willie Ker to Europe and give employment to Charlie himself if he so desires. We will go to Europe on the top of the Photophone and Volta Prize-and I will make personal application for concessions &c. in the countries yet open to me and in this way try to place the members of the Bell family in as comfortable pecuniary circumstances as those of the Hubbard family.
‘The gods help those who help themselves’—and I intend to manage telephonic matters in future alone. I am worked up-tired-headaching-and all my nerves are trembling with excitement, so if there is anything in this letter extravagant, please excuse it. I will be with you Sunday morning. Don’t ask me to recall any letters. I believe I have only done what a MAN should do, and if the International & your father will not recognize me, I see no reason why I should continue to recognize them.”
In fine condition, with some scattered light toning, with one strip next to signature and passing through closing, light show-through from writing on opposing sides, and two horizontal mailing folds.
Bell married Mabel Hubbard in 1877 and gave her nearly all of his stock in the company as a wedding present, ensuring the “pecuniary interest of the Hubbard family.” She was the daughter of the Boston lawyer and later founder and first president of the National Geographic Society, Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who partnered with Bell and became the trustee and de facto president of the Bell Telephone Company. In 1879, Hubbard founded the International Bell Telephone Company to promote sales abroad. As the company sought to file patents and begin operations in Europe and around the world, Bell grew suspicious of its increasingly convoluted business transactions. At the same time, he was gifting the foreign rights to his invention to family members, occasionally coming into conflict with Hubbard’s actions as company president. During the summer of 1880, Bell’s resentment boiled over, and he charged Hubbard with mishandling a trust held for Hubbard’s own daughter and children. Bell’s letter refers to William Hathaway Forbes, an investor and later president of National Bell Telephone Company, as well as Elisha Converse, the rubber-soled shoe magnate and one of Bell’s first investors.
In his letter, Bell mentions the Photophone, a device he invented in 1880 allowing for the transmission of both articulated sounds and normal human conversations on a beam of light. Bell believed it to be his most important invention, but it took many decades for the principles of the device to be applied to practical applications. He also refers to the Grand Volta Prize, a French award established by Napoleon with a $10,000 cash prize that he won in 1880 for the invention of the telephone. An exceptional letter capturing the familial tensions surrounding Bell’s invention, with direct references to the invention that would change the world. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.