[D8751AAA], Letter from George Edward Gouraud to Thomas Alva Edison, July 2nd, 1887


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[D8751AAA], Letter from George Edward Gouraud to Thomas Alva Edison, July 2nd, 1887

Editor's Notes

"CONFIDENTIAL ## The so-called Graphophone, of which doubtless you have heard,-- a name given to the results of certain patents taken out by Graham Bell and others, in the name of the Volta Graphophone Co.,--is being brought forward here, and I have been offered an interest in it. I am aware that for some time past, negotiations have been going on in America for the union of the Volta Co.'s interest in the Phonograph Co.; but I am told that no result has apparently contained principles fundamental to the Graphophone, the Graphophone Co. has been formed with a large capital, and its shares are at a high premium. Seeing that this machine--which I believe is to be worked on an enormous scale--is so much die to your genius, and to that most marvelous of your numerous inventions--that which perhaps I am not wront in saying is the one more than all others on which the world-wide extent of your fame and name rests,--it at once seemed to me that the circumstances presented an opportunity, of which I gladly avail myself, to do something toward continuing the identification of you name with the apparatus in question, as well as that of the company which is to work it. It also seemed that notwithstanding no claim could be made by you or on your behalf, if put in the light of a claim to the extent of giving you some pecuniary interest,--in view of the fact that there is no longer any British Phonograph patent, as you are aware,--that if judiciously handled I might be able, thro' taking a very large interest in the proposed company,--as well as an active part in its management,--that I might successfully put forward the idea of giving you what would perhaps be more correctly styled a complimentary participation in the shares of the proposed company. The parties concerned here were so desirous of having me take the matter up, that it resulted, I am happy to inform you, in the acceptance of the principle in both of the above respects, and I hope as a consequence to accomplish one or the other, or all, of the following: first, the permanent identification of your name with the company; 2d, placing of your name upon every instrument made; 3d, the placeing in your name of a substantial interest in the capital of the company, without any cost on the part of yourself. Ifam sure you will appreciate this course on my part, and shall be glad to have a few lines from you to that effect. There was considerable difficulty in the question of priority of names, under the head of putting your upon the instrument; and having in view the fact that the attorney of the Volta Co. is a member of Graham Bell's family. I felt that if the word "Graphophone" should be substituted for 'Phonograph,' (which of course they have a perfect right to do,) they should consent to letting your name go upon the instrument as first, to be followed by Bell's; that suggestion was obviously impracticable, so I finally,--and I think I may be permitted to say, happily,--solved the problem by proposing that every other instrument should have your name first, and Graham Bell's second. The parties interested agree that no other names besides your own and Bell's need appear upon the machine,--this excluding the names of the Taintor and Chinchester Bell, who are parties to the patent-rights, and are associated inventors with Graham Bell. ## I hear indirectly that you are occuppied in some experiments upon the Phonograph; if this be the case, which I sincerely hope, and you have taken out any patents, or intend taking any out, I shall be glad to assume my old relations to you as regards your European patents, if agreeable to yourself. Of course my interest in the Graphophone patents would enable me to better secure consideration of your own. Your early reply upon this point would very much oblige me, as if you have, or are taking out any European patents in this connection, and you acquiesce in the above proposal, it would of course be easier for me to secure consideration for you under this head--that is to say, under what we will call the 4th head, as to compensation for any patents of your own for improvements upon the Phonograph,--now, before any company has been formed, than later on, when many people have to be treated with. ## Kindly regard this communication as strictly confidential; by which, however, I would not have you understand that I would keep secret from those concerned here in the Graphophone patents, the fact of my interest with you in any patents off your own. The proposal last-above-mentioned,--if indeed it have any foundation in the assumption that you are working upon the Phonograph, I should of course make known to those with whom I am here interested in the Graphophone. I shall associate with me in this affair of the Graphophone, only a very select few of my friends; not failing to profit by experience in the past, to the exclusion of the Whites, Bouveries, Vogles [unindexed], and the like. Before finally completing the syndicate, I shall, in addition to the considerations above referred to, be glad to secure for you, as I no doubt can if you wish it, a share in the syndicate on the ground-floor, if you will intimate that you desire I should do so. I consider it a stroke of great good luck that I was sought out in this connection, and am thereby able to protect your name, in connection with that most marvelous of all your discoveries, as well as to possibly secure you some financial participation; to see the principle of the Phonograph--however modified by subsequent inventions--come into use with your name in no way connected with it, would have been, I think, something quite deplorable. ## Referring again to this rumor that you are engaged in improvements of the Phonograph,--if this be the fact, and you have taken out or applied for any patents, or expect to, and you accept the suggestion I have made you as to the application of our old Telephone arrangements thereto, kindly cable me at once the word 'Improvements,' so that I may, if it be not too late, include in the original contracts, which are now being prepared, and of which I have to-day received the first draft, a suitable caluse to cover proper consideration to you for usch improvements. In cabling please cable 'Gouraud, NORWOOD,' instead of 'Gouraud, London,' as thereby I receive talbes from America practically a day earlier than I otherwise would, by reason of the difference in time. ## Hoping this will find you in the best of health, and with kindes regards to Mrs. Edison, ## P.S.----Why don't you take advantage of this 'Jubilee' year, when so much more than usual is giong on here in England, to come over with Mrs. Edison for a little trip during the summer? The voyage is now so much more comfortable than when you made it several years ago; and if you will come, I should be charmed to entertain you at my home,--to which you really owe a visit, in recognition of the name it bears. I am building a large addition, which would be finished before you come, and can promise to make you very comfortable. We are so near London that we drive in and out with ease. I could also, without doubt, include you in a delightful yachting party during September, along the coast of Scotland, in the finest yacht in England. Give this earnest consideration, and I trust for your favorable decision."




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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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