Lot #138
Thomas Edison

"My boyhood ambition was experimenting with chemicals"
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Estimate: $1000+

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"My boyhood ambition was experimenting with chemicals"

TLS signed “Thos. A. Edison,” one page, 8.25 x 9.75, From the Laboratory of Thomas A. Edison letterhead, April 19, 1915. Letter to "The Associated Newspapers," in New York, in part: "I am in receipt of your favor of the 14th instant in regard to the cartoons made by your Mr. H. T. Webster on 'Our Boyhood Ambitions.' I would say in reply that I have no objections to his making one referring to myself if you wish. My boyhood ambition was experimenting with chemicals. I should, of course, be glad to receive the original cartoon after its production." In very good condition, with somewhat irregular toning and missing lower right corner tip.

Webster (1885-1952) was dubbed 'Mark Twain of American Cartoonists' for his slyly satirical style. His best-known effort, the long-running panel cartoon 'The Timid Soul,' featured the hapless protagonist Caspar Milquetoast, whose surname entered the American lexicon as a synonym for meek, ineffectual men. Beginning in 1912, Webster embarked on a daily newspaper cartoon published under a rotating series of titles, including 'Our Boyhood Ambitions.' Edison’s stated boyhood ambition calls to mind one of the most famous (and documented) anecdotes related to his youth. As a vendor of candy and newspapers on the train that ran between his home of Port Huron, Michigan and Detroit, the young Edison improvised a chemical laboratory in a boxcar, where he conducted some of his earliest experiments. After the boxcar caught fire, Edison and his apparatus were thrown off the train. In later years, Edison often claimed that his hearing loss resulted from being boxed in the ears by the angry conductor; he later modified this claim to say that the catastrophic injury occurred when he was helpfully lifted onto a moving train by his ears.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: December 14 - January 09

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