Science and Exploration

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Bishop Brooks may not answer Godís call
Episcopal Bishop (1835-1893)

Autograph letter signed, November 28, 1877, Boston, one page. Brooks politely declines a request for an article. This would seem like a routine response until it is placed in the context of the latest technology – the telephone.

Bishop Brooks writes “I would gladly help your Fair through the “Telephone” if I could—but I am sorry to say that such an article as you desire is quite out of my habits &, I am sure, out of my power. I could send you nothing but a Sermon—so you must excuse me & believe in my sincere good-will.”

The letter is addressed to Edw. S. Garlster (or Garleston), with no address. Less than two years prior to this letter, Alexander Graham Bell, in February 1876, patented his new invention. It is tempting to think that one of the nation’s most prominent religious figures was asked to comment about this new invention. Drawing a line between his role as religious leader and someone who might comment on the secular implications of modern technology he charmingly sidesteps the issue by saying he merely can only write a sermon.

The letter is missing a quarter-size bite at the top. Brooks has crossed out the address of his hotel and added 17[_ Mar] borough St. The date Nov. 28 has been crossed out and “Dec. 18” written above. It is possible he wrote the letter in November, put it aside and then re-discovered it two weeks later when he moved into his residence at Marlborough St in Boston. Except for the loss of paper as noted, the letter is in excellent condition and is a nice early reference to the telephone, which had not yet been made commercially viable. The letter is worthy of further research.

Brooks has often been referred to as “the greatest preacher of the 19th Century.” He was a prominent figure during the second half of the 19th Century. Educated at Harvard, he served in major churches in both Philadelphia and Boston. At the end of his life he became a Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Boston. He is perhaps best remembered today as the author of the favorite Christmas Hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” He has a minor connection to Abraham Lincoln as the minister who delivered the sermon when Lincoln’s body reposed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. [#2398]

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British researcher on human sexuality

Havelock Ellis British physician and author best known for his work on the study of human sexuality. He is credited with writing the first English language medical study on homosexuality. His work and relationship with Margaret Sanger influenced her own work on sexuality and birth control. Two page ALS on a single sheet, [n.d.] Hayward’s Heath, Sussex. Signed with his first name only. Francoise mentioned in the letter was his companion after his wife Edith died in 1916. They moved to a home in Wivelsfield Green sometime after 1918. [#4797]

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British archaeologist who excavated Ninevah, political official and author. ANS in 3rd person, April 1854 stating that he has not received a letter. The note has been pasted at the corners to a heaver paper stock. [#4666]

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Ferdinand de Lesseps, French diplomat and later development leader involved in the Suez and Panama Canals. A brief one-page handwritten note or inscription dated 1883 on a 3.75 x 5 sheet. The message is in French and appears to be a reply or request - possibly a response to an autograph request. Using his political connections as a former French Diplomat in the Middle East Lesseps had won the right to develop the Suez Canal and is generally regarded as the driving force behind the successful ideas and one of the most ambitious engineering/constructions jobs up to that time. He later tried to match his own reputation by leading the effort to build a canal across Panama. His efforts failed but were then resumed by the United States which obviously finished the work. [#5642]

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Charles Richter – physicist and seismologist. Handwritten note, signed with initials. Richter responds to an autograph request by signing a photo (not present) with a comment "if no can read it, perhaps it will be just as well." He signs the note only with his initials "C.R." The note card is approximately 3 x 5. Richter's handwritten letters are uncommon and while this is only signed with initials, is still a desirable example.

Richter was a noted seismologist who wrote and co-authored some of the most influential works on seismology and earthquakes. He developed the method of measuring the intensity of quakes through a scale of seismic waves. He has the unusual distinction of being remembered every time there is a major earthquake which is described as a certain intensity on the Richter scale. [#3525]

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Canadian explorer of the Arctic

Wilhjamlur Stefansson, Canadian arctic explorer. Signed slip dated 5/11/30. [#4888]