[D8847ACA], Letter from Charles Stolpe to Franck Zeveley Maguire, September 3rd, 1888


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[D8847ACA], Letter from Charles Stolpe to Franck Zeveley Maguire, September 3rd, 1888

Editor's Notes

"Your letter of the first came to my hands this evening in answer to your first inquiry I would state that at present I am receiving 45 cents per hour. ### In regard to the invention of the paper cylinder I must go back to the very beginning to give you a clear conception of the ease which I will endeavor to do. I herein enclose a specification of the patent as granted to Charles S. Tainter the description of how it is used and made is substancialy as I should describe it and it is the exact thing as I gave it to hime only in addition to the claims that he (Mr. Tainter) has made I would state that boxes of any description + (sound) and of any size can be made in that way and would alone revolutionize box making the world over. In order to show to you how I came to invent this I must explain to you how they were first made. In the first place I was engaged only as a mechanic to carry out and make what was given me to do from drawings I was not engaged nor paid to invent in the course of my work I had to make the cylinder that were used in experimenting just as described in article 25 of this enclosed specification, in trying to make them properly and squeeze all the glue out that was possible I used a strip of cloth and wound it tightly over the paper until it was dry; it occurred to me that I might make the cylinders of strips of papers and I mentioned it to Mr. Tainter and he said try it by winding the under strip right handed and glue the upper one on left hand it proved a success and then were made in that way for a year or more by hand which was very slow indeed; after this my father advised me to invent a machine by which they could be made and then have it patented I don't know whether Mr. Tainter ever had this form of cylinder patented neither do I know to what patents he refers to in this specification of having received on May 4th 1886). In my studies at home to make a machine by which this form of cylinder might be made cheaply I found it a complicated thing as the lower strip had to be wound the whole length before the upper one could be glued on and would make a complicated machine. I then hit upon the idea of winding one strip over the seam of the other and in this way it was an easy matter to wind the cylinders cheaply and with a simple machine. Well I kept my idea to my self and kept on studying on the machine to make them with. I would here state that I told my father of it and we both talked it over and I made one of newspaper and convinced him that it was a good thing in the mean time Mr. Tainter was having me make them in the shop by winding them by hand right and left spiral; all of a sudden he came to me and he said Mr. Stolpe see what you can do towards making these by a machine see what you can get up. I did as I was told and gave many suggestions as to how they might be made but as I had been over that ground already I gave it up telling I could not make anything that would not be complicated, and then he went at it with me at his side and for a day and a half he studied and sketched (in the mean time I was studying at home how I might make my improved cylinder cheaply) but arrived at no better result than I had; then it came to my mind at home that even if I did finish the invention of the machine I would not have the capital to have it patented and I thought now was the time I might interest Mr. Tainter and he would help me so I decided to tell him what I had done and the way the cylinder might be made cheaply. I did do this on the 23rd of March of the year 1886 of which I have a record (my conception of the idea was some 6 or 8 months before this) on the day and at the time I explained my idea to him I said to him (Mr. Tainter) remember Mr. Tainter this is mine, what I am now laying before you and he said of course it is, and it shall be regarded so and you shall be protected and he led me to believe that when it came to be patented I would be mentioned in the patent and be renumerated, and as I had no capital to put I through and working for wages upon which I had a family to support I trusted to him to do as he had led me to believe. He then went to consider the machine to make the cylinders. By the way I must mention here that when I first told him of the new way I had to make them he would not accept of it at first saying it would not make a strong tube and I told him I could convince him of it for I had made it allready and had proven it; so I made him one cylinder by hand and he pronounced it a success and remarked Stolpe that’s just the thing. I made this on his time but nevertheless I made the first one that was made so to have my idea that I had just explained to him to go back to the machine I told him my ideas and he suggested better ways in some points some of mine were retained and so finally we had a simple hand machine by which they could be made very much faster and better this machine has since been improved upon by others and also Mr. Tainter but I don't want to claim anything on his machine except what I gave. What I do claim is what is contained in and explained in this inclosed specification which is the ground patent. Well from the time that I exposed my idea up to the time that it was patented by Mr. Tainter I had no other belief but that he would do what was right and I called the attention of many people to my invention and also did I [unclear] mention it to members of the old company and of this company now. My father also spoke to many of his friends about it in this city. I became aware that he (Mr. Tainter) had obtained a patent through the newspapers and saw that he had entirely ignored me. I tried to find friends with capital to fight it for me but did not succeed I went to a lawyer and he told me I had better send a written paper to the company, which I did explaining the whole thing besides telling them that they were using what was not theirs and that I had not given up my right and hoped they would right the wrong done me but this paper was also ignored. I have a copy of this petition. During this time I used every opportunity that I got to let people and members of the company know that they were using what they had obtained by false swearing. I kept on trying to find friends to fight it for me and I also had some offers but as I got none substancial so I could make a living for myself and family I almost gave up in despair of getting my rights. In regard to the witnesses I would state that at the time I conceived the idea I told gentlemen that lived in the house with me of it and hoped it would make my fortune I explained it to. I have also one Mr. Rober Reed who in the presence of Irvin Haskins and myself on more than one occasion said that Mr. Tainter had acknowleged that the cylinder making was my idea. At the time the idea was exposed there was no one present as Mr. Tainter and I were always alone in the laboratory and consequently I have n o witness of that proceeding. But I think I can clearly prove that I was the inventor unless he has falsified dates in the files of the company. Mr. Maguire if there are any further points you wish to know of you can let me know I may perhaps have over looked or forgotten some in this communication. I also send by this mail a cylinder (coated) and mailing box to show you how this invention can be utilized. Mr. Maguire I can also show and prove clearly that the mixture which is used has been patented and obtained in exactly the same way that the cylinder invention was taen from me Mr. Tainter has no more right to that than he has to a great many things that he claims as his I think I can prove conclusively enough what I have just stated in regard to the mixture used has been patented and obtained in exactly the same way that the cylinder invention was taken from me Mr. Tainter has no more right to that than he has to a great many things that he claims as his I think I can prove conclusively enough what I have just stated in regard to the mixture used and claimed by Mr. Tainter to warrant any one else using the same. On the Graphophone Machine it is the same in a great many respects he has invented about half of it the other half has been obtained in the same way as the foregoing Mr. Maguire I hope you will give this due consideration and let me hear from you soon as I expect to break up here very soon. Address you letters to me to No. 1747 Penna Ave. N.W. as I have given up this house and expect to move by Wednesday. Address in case of Edward Stolpe address as before Personal. P.S. In case I have forgotten to mention anything let me know." Yours very truly, Charles Stolpe






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