Connecticut Telephone Company (Signed by Marshall Jewell)
Connecticut Telephone Company (Signed by Marshall Jewell)
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Connecticut Telephone Company
9 1/2" (w) by 5" (h)
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Signed by Marshall Jewell
In 1877, Alexander Graham Bell gave a promotional speech and demonstration of his new invention, the telephone, in New Haven. On November 3 of that year, a Bell telephone franchise for the area was awarded to George Coy, a manager for the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company who had fought in the Civil War. Just one year afer the genesis of telephone technology, a franchise agreement specifying that the Bell company would own 35 percent of Coy's enterprise was stipulated and was maintained throughout nearly all of the company's history.
Picking up on an idea Bell had mentioned in his speech, Coy improvised a crude telephone switchboard made out of carriage bolts, teapot lids, and wire, which provided connections for eight lines. Telephone wires had previously connected just two points, allowing information to travel between them, but not to any other point. With the new switchboard, the number of locations reached dramatically increased; customers could call any of eight other locations that had joined the system.
After Coy had lined up an investor and a lawyer to incorporate his enterprise as the New Haven District Telephone Company, 21 New Haven residents became patrons of the world's first telephone exchange, capable of handling just two calls simultaneously, on January 28, 1878. Customers used a single, hand held unit which, transfered from ear to mouth, served as both an earpiece and a mouthpiece, respectively. The company charged patrons $1.50 for month-long usage of the system. Within four weeks of the inauguration, the new telephone company had 50 customers, including the town police station, the post office, a country club, and a local college newspaper, the Yale News. The clients were listed in a classified directory, the world's first.
The leaders of the New Haven Bell franchise reorganized the company repeatedly the first few years, seeking to expand territory by raising money and negotiating broader service rights from the Bell organization in Boston. Fierce competition between the Bell network and the Western Union Telegraph Company had erupted in the telephone industry, holding rates down and increasing the difficulty of selling stock to finance wider operations.
In 1878, Coy and his partner sold a majority interest in their company to businessman Jay Gould, who used the company in his attempt to gain control of Western Union. Western Union conceded the telephone business to Bell in 1879, and Bell, in turn, promised to stay out of the telegraph market. This agreement marked the end of serious competition in the telephone industry until the end of the century, when Bell's original patents expired.
By 1881, with the money provided by its investor, the New Haven telephone company had acquired the right to provide and interconnect telephone service in all of Connecticut and western Massachusetts. Profitable toll lines were installed from Bridgeport to New Haven to Hartford. The company also acquired the telephone operations in Hartford, Bridgeport, and Meriden, to name a few.
Expenses for the fledgling telephone systems were high. Wages for operators cut into the amount of money available for expansion, as did the cost of telephone poles. Seeking additional funds, the company was reorganized as the Connecticut Telephone Company. This was financed by a number of Hartford investors, who bought out previous owner Jay Gould.
Within two years the Connecticut Telephone Company was running 24 exchanges interconnected by toll lines, serving 3,634 customers. A subsidiary called Inter State Telephone had opened offices in New York City, Providence, Rhode Island, and other large urban areas. The company was reorganized yet again as the Southern New England Telephone Company in 1882.
Marshall Jewell's Signature
Marshall Jewell (October 20, 1825 – February 10, 1883) was a manufacturer, pioneer telegrapher, telephone entrepreneur, world traveler, and political figure who served as 44th and 46th Governor of Connecticut, the U.S. Minister to Russia, the 25th United States Postmaster General, and Republican Party National Chairman. Jewell, distinguished for his fine "china" skin, grey eyes, and white eyebrows, was popularly known as the "Porcelain Man".
As Postmaster General, Jewell made reforms and was intent on cleaning up the Postal Service from internal corruption and profiteering. Postmaster Jewell helped Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow shut down and prosecute the Whiskey Ring. President Grant, however, became suspicious of Jewell's loyalty after Jewell fired a Boston postmaster over non payment of a surety bond and asked for his resignation.
A native of New Hampshire, Jewell was the son of a prominent tanner and currier. Having apprenticed in his father's tannery business, Jewell moved to Boston where he learned the art of being a currier. In 1847, Jewell moved to Hartford where he worked for his father's business as a currier. Jewell stopped working as a currier and became a skilled telegrapher, where he worked in New York, Ohio, and Tennessee. Jewell was a Whig who supported the election of Zachary Taylor to the office of the Presidency. Having supported Taylor, Jewell moved to Mississippi where he was elected General Superintendent of Telegraphers. Jewell moved back to New York in 1849, and the next year he returned to his father's tannery business having entered into partnership with his father. Later, Jewell traveled to and visited Europe on business connected with the tannery firm, having returned to the United States during the onset of the American Civil War. In 1865 Jewell returned to Europe and traveled to Egypt and the Holy Land.
Having returned to the United States, Jewell, a Republican, ran for Connecticut state senator in 1867, however, he failed to win the election. In 1868, Jewell ran for the office of Connecticut Governor, however, he lost the election. Jewell ran again the following year and was elected Governor of Connecticut, serving two terms. In 1873, Jewell was appointed Consul to Russia by President Ulysses S. Grant and served until 1874 when he was appointed by President Grant as Postmaster General of the United States, a position he held until 1876. Jewell was also a presidential candidate at the 1876 Republican National Convention and served as the chairman of the Republican National Committee for four years. Having returned to Connecticut, Jewell became a wealthy merchant, having invested in the Hartford Evening Post and the Southern New England Telephone Company. He died in 1883 in New Haven, Connecticut, and was interred at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut.
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