Winter Premier Auction 2021


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/3/2021

Where does one start when talking about Thomas Alva Edison? So many of the technologies and inventions that created our modern way of life were invented or refined by the great visionary. From the 1870s through to his death in 1931, Edison held title to 1,093 patents and his name had become synonymous with anything new and revolutionary. And yet even in an age in which “inventor” was an actual job description, Edison found a way to set himself apart. While most working on new ideas tended to hole themselves up in small rooms laboring alone, Edison, as befitting the man whose name would appear on over 1,000 patents, created his own “invention factory.” The first of his which was founded in Newark, NJ in 1870 after the young visionary received $10,000 from Western Union for improvements made to their existing stock ticker machinery. Finding it beneficial to have more than one mind working at the same time, Edison broke with the idea of the “lone inventor” and hired the first of his trusted assistants and gifted collaborators. Within five years Edison had outgrown his Newark factory and began looking for a larger facility outside the city. He found it in suburban Menlo Park, NJ.
Edison immediately set forth creating the most up-to-date labs and workshops in the world. Besides a main building that housed the general work areas, the Menlo Park compound eventually grew to two city blocks and included a carpenter’s shed, blacksmith’s shop, glass house, machine shop and carbon shed. An 1887 newspaper article described his lab as including, "eight thousand kinds of chemicals, every kind of screw made, every size of needle, every kind of cord or wire, hair of humans, horses, hogs, cows, rabbits, goats, minx, camels ... silk in every texture, cocoons, various kinds of hoofs, shark's teeth, deer horns, tortoise shell ... cork, resin, varnish and oil, ostrich feathers, a peacock's tail, jet, amber, rubber, all ores ..."
With virtually every conceivable tool and ingredient at Edison’s and his team’s disposal, inventions began rolling out of the Menlo Park facility at a pace never before seen in the annals of recorded history. First, the laboratory produced the phonograph recording machine, the incredible invention earning Edison the nickname by which he would be known around the world: “The Wizard of Menlo Park.” Next came the carbon telephone transmitter that greatly improved on Alexander Graham Bell’s new telephone. But it was his invention of the first successful incandescent lightbulb that truly changed the world.
The lightbulb had been Edison’ obsession for years, with countless hours and manpower spent in his Menlo Park compound trying to make his concept work. When he succeeded and filed his patent in 1879, Edison did not stop there. Ever the visionary, the great inventor set forth developing the first electrical system to power an entire town with electric light, and when he succeeded at his goal, it was Menlo Park that became the first city to benefit from the new invention.
By 1886 Edison and his collection of collaborators had outgrown the 2-block campus in Menlo Park, moving to an even larger facility in West Orange, NJ. Other famed inventions would follow, but it was during his decade at Menlo Park that Thomas Edison created the innovations with which ushered in the modern world and earned the name “The Wizard of Menlo Park.”
This incredible display houses the objects that essentially opened the doors to that modern world – the keys to Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory. Four of the six keys are carefully labeled for each unique location it unlocked: “Laboratory” where the main work was conducted; “Motor Shed” (with two keys) which housed the tools that made the inventions a reality; “Small Building Containing Motor and Car.” and one simply titled, “Shop.” A sixth key is unnamed as to what it once unlocked. This remarkable mounted and framed display is completed by a circular metal seal of the “Edison Machine Works Incorporated 1886.” Measuring 19”x18”, this remarkable piece of history stands as a silent witness to time when Thomas Edison was inventing the modern world and his Menlo Park laboratory was its epicenter.

Estimate: $10,000+

Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $3,500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $10,900
Number Bids: 7
Auction closed on Saturday, April 3, 2021.
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