[D8959ABC], Letter from George Edward Gouraud to Thomas Alva Edison, May 4th, 1889


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[D8959ABC], Letter from George Edward Gouraud to Thomas Alva Edison, May 4th, 1889

Editor's Notes

"The new patent case 90 reached the day before yesterday. It has been manifolded and leaves today for abroad. The provisional for England will be filled probably today. The new Phonographs with the spectacles have reached me and they seem in every practical quality to mark great improvements. For loud records Hamilton does not think they are equal to the old. I shall be glad to know whether that is the case in your opinion or whether it is that we have not quite got at the right way of doing it. In the manipulation of the machine and clearness of articulation as also in the automatic adjustment of the knife they seem all that could be desired for practical commercial use and that of course, is 99 per cent of the question. We shall not let them out or our hands until the patents are secured. This is rather a difficult question because of the long time it takes to file some of the patents, while they might be shown and described in any country in which they may be secured without prejudice to the patents I nthe country in question; the publication of the patentable features in any other country prior to the filing of patent there will, of course, destroy the patent as we, the case with several of the German applications as you are aware. ### Lectures ### Professor Archibald and Mr Lynd- a second lecturer who is lecturing with great success in Scotland and who was formerly Editor of the Electrical Review a thoroughly practical scientific man, electrician and experienced lecturer- have made numerous engagements for lectures which, of course, must be fulfilled and in view of the explanations in another letter, I trust this will meet your approval in every way and I shall be glad to hear from you if such is the case [---] kindly do me the favour of cabling me “Continue” if you agree with me in the desirability of continuing the lectures [----------] strictly on a plan I have laid down, as I sincerely trust you will, because I thoroly believe in the qualified good that results therefrom. Or it you take 2 different view cable me the word “Stop” and I shall not allow them to make any further engagements. The same words will apply equally to the daily lectures at the Gainsborough Gallery, which latter I would have you understand is a gallery devoted to art exhibitions. It is on a ground floor in Bon St, a most aristocratic position altogether. In this connection I contemplate having a series of lectures given entirely at my own expense and for which complimentary tickets will be sent to for example one evening, members of the electrical societies and clubs, another evening Managers and officials of the various electric light cos another evening the Bank Managers of London, another evening the Managing clerks of the leading firms of solicitors, another evening the Managing clerks of the leading firms of Solicitors, another evening the Managers of principals of the leading mercantile houses and so forth. The effect of all this will be that when the Phonographs are ready for the market these people understanding at once the principals and the utility will be all the more ready to receive it. ### The advertising for this gallery and lecture will read simply 'The latest Phonograph received from Mr. Edison [---] been lent by Colonel Gouraud to Professor E. Douglas Archibald M.A. [---] or [---------] who will explain its scientific principals at the Gainsboro Gallery, Old Bond St at [-----] hour' For these lectures tickets are given to the visitors as they enter numbers according to their arrival which numbers entitle the holders to a private [------] Phonograph after the lecture in a separate room, which is perfectly quiet and contains only life size portraits of the queen and Princess of Wales. Thus all these visitors have the science of the Phonograph first explained to them its practical uses and manipulation exhibited in operation and then in a private room they hear in groups of half a dozen the various records of voice and music. This has not so far, paid its expenses and the burden has fallen upon me as I guaranteed against all losses. The proceeds go towards the payment of the rent lighting and attendance. I have had people stationed in the hall and at the exit to take notes of the observations of the people who have attended there and there is but one opinion expressed and that all could be desired. ### Delivery of Phonographs. ### If I am right in inferring that you are now so far satisfied with the Phonograph as to make it in considerable quantities I wish you would kindly let me know by cable about what number I may rely upon in monthly deliveries during the next six months beginning with the month of June. Upon this information I will base my movements as regards the formation of companies. The public is ripe now I suppose for subscribing liberally for this enterprise; and my idea is to form companies on the same general lines as has been done in America and which I presume is in accordance with your view. My purpose is to form a separate company for each important country covered by my agreement providing for a fair proportion of money and shares for us in each case, and fixing only for the first years operation the minimum and maximum number of Phonographs to be ordered and supplied. To do this it will be necessary to have [----] you the outside number to which I may commit myself as a whole, and also the maximum price at which I may count upon their costing me under my agreement with you. If you could give me both the maximum and the minimum price, as I presume you cannot tell positively to a dollar what they will cost, that will serve my purpose for the time being. For this purpose kindly use the following code, cable, “May, ......[number].” June [number]. July [number] “August [number] “September [number” October [number]” ### Than for the prices- ### “Motor [number] maximum dollars, [number] minimum” “Foot [number] maximum, [number] minimum”, “Combined [number] maximum [number] minimum” ### By the first - inserting before maximum figures [----] senting dollars which I can be ceratin will not be exceeded, and before 'minimum' figures representing dollars below which it will not be safe to count upon their cost- I shall understand you mean motor machines complete with batteries; by the second I shall understand you to mean treadle or foot-power machines similar to that already sent ; while by third I shall understand you to mean a combination of both motor and treadle machines, to be used alternately in the event of the motor falling, and which I understand you intend making. “Combined” maximum and minimum to indicate the same. By the number you will cable after the words indicated, I shall understand that the number in question will refer to the aggregate number of all forms of instruments which you intend making. My idea is to so organise these companies as that by our holding the shares which shall be issued in payment of our rights together with such shares as we may purchase in order to conform to the stock Exchange regulations we shall from the beginning maintain control over the companies. The Stock Exchange rules in England do not allow of more than one third of the share capital to be paid to vendors, but out of the money part of the consideration to us I shall, if you agree with me, as to the expediencey of such a course, apply for a sufficient number of shares to secure that end. I shall leave to the respective companies the question of Policy as is best suited to each country the question as to selling or renting the instruments. As regards England, where I am certain from the advice I have received, it would be better to commence with the policy of renting only as has been determined on in America, and in the case of England I would propose not to sell the patents to a parent company, but that we keep the patents ourselves and form licenses companies such as has been done in the Telephone Company with this difference, that the subsidiary cos shall buy and own the Phonographs as prices to be agreed instead of the parent Co owning Phonographs as was the case with the Telephone. Out of the cash payments to us from these different cos I would propose to form a “fighting fund” for the protection or our patents in the following way;- say a fund of from $25,000 to $50,000 depending upon circumstances , during the term of patents , the income from the investments to be paid to us as accrued,. The principal sum in part or in whole, as the course of events may determine to be applied when necessary for the protection of the patents. This course will enable us to discriminate as to what litigation should be initiated on our part and will keep in our hands the control of the lawyers employed for defence as well. If you have any comments to make upon this policy or suggestions of improvement I shall be glad to receive them. If I hear nothing to the country I shall proceed upon this general plan until I otherwise advise you. The exception from my contract of the Phonograph doll business, and the non existence of the original Phonograph patent in this country will avoid the necessity of the particularising in the Prospectuses of the English Companies what our patents cover and what they do not. It will also avoid the necessity and expense of submitting all these patents to the ignorant criticism of Directors. The license to Companies would probably acceptable coming from you direct as it would from an English Company provided the fighting fund is carried into effect. It is evident to [--] mind that in the best interest of both your reputation and the commercial development of the Phonograph, that it should so far as possible, at least from the beginning and until things get more settled down, be rented only which means we can keep control over them and be always sure they are in proper order. All this will, of course, involve a large capital and that will be the obvious reason for the formation of substantial companies. In this connection I will ask you if you have any occasion in the future to communicate to me any views of yours which are contrary to what you fancy mine are or should be, I shall be obliged if you will so far as possible avoid the publicity which results from cabling, because our cables are likely to excite unusual observation on the part of the people whose hands they come through.” "




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