“What Hath God Wrought”
FIRST EDITION, LEONARD GALE'S COPY, of perhaps the most important book documenting the earliest history of telegraphy. Gale's work with Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail was critical to the success of the telegraph. With Gale's ownership signature on title page and front pastedown.
On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse famously sent the world’s first telegraphic message: “What Hath God Wrought” from the Rotunda of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, DC to Baltimore, MD. On the other end of this transmission was Alfred Vail, the lesser known, but equally important inventor of the telegraph. Vail’s contributions vastly improved upon Morse’s design and were critical to the telegraph’s success.
Published in 1845, one year following the aforementioned successful telegraphic test, Vail's The American Electro Magnetic Telegraph describes in detail the workings of the device and its applications as well as the history of telegraphy. Containing 81 engravings and several reports of Congress on the subject of electro magnetic telegraphs, this book serves as the earliest, and most complete survey of the work done to that date in the field of telegraphy.
This particular copy belonged to Dr. Leonard D. Gale. Like Vail, Gale’s contributions to the success of the telegraph were critical, having worked closely with Morse and Vail on the invention. According to the Library of Congress, Gale was instrumental in pointing out the flaws in Morse’s telegraph system and showing him how to boost the strength of the signal and overcome distance problems. Gale is quoted and/or mentioned numerous times in the book.
Gale signed and dated the book twice: once on the front pastedown (dated 1845, the year of publication) and once on the title page (dated 1848). "From the Author" appears also on the title page, but does not appear to be in the author Vail's hand. There is a note at the bottom of the title page by Gale's grandson (Clarence Gale Allen) providing page numbers where his grandfather is mentioned in the book. There are also annotations on the cited pages in Clarence Gale Allen's hand.
Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard, 1845. Octavo, three-quarter black morocco over marbled boards; housed in custom presentation box. Rubbing to boards, joints tender (but holding). Text clean. Woodcut engravings thoughout showing schematic drawings of all aspects of telegraphs and the application of Morse Code. Howes V4; Wheeler 1087.
An important association copy of one of the most significant books documenting the history of the telegraph.
Price: $4,800 .