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The five volumes in this series relate to litigation involving several of Edison's patent applications for duplex and quadruplex telegraphy.
Four of the volumes form a set with the general title "Cases and Points" and the specific title "Quadruplex Case" on their spines. They are numbered 70, 71, 72 and 73. Volumes 70, 71, and 73 contain a record of the litigation in Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company v. George B. Prescott, Western Union Telegraph Company, Lemuel W. Serrell and Thomas A. Edison the so-called Quadruplex Case. This suit was filed in 1876, went to trial in 1877, and was decided in favor of the defendants in 1878. Volume 72 contains Patent Office proceedings for 1875 and 1876 and closely related litigation which, like the Atlantic and Pacific suit, involved the question of rights and title to seven Edison duplex and quadruplex telegraph patent applications.
The four Quadruplex Case volumes were apparently given to Edison by Everett P. Wheeler, an attorney for the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Co. Each volume contains Wheeler's bookplate bearing the inscription "Mr. Edison, from his friend Everett P. Wheeler." Volume 72 appears first in the sequence because most of its documents relate to Patent Office proceedings which chronologically precede the Atlantic and Pacific suit contained in the other three volumes. The four volumes have been selected in their entirety, with a few exceptions that are identified in the contents lists for the individual volumes.
The fifth volume, entitled Telegraph Law Cases -- Miscellaneous, is not part of the set given to Edison by Wheeler. It contains printed copies of bills of complaint, answers, arguments, and briefs relating to Edison telegraph litigation.
Many of the items in this volume are duplicates of documents in the Quadruplex Case volumes; these have not been selected. Such items have been identified in the contents list for this volume.
A very complex nexus of litigation is represented in these five volumes. In addition to the Patent Office litigation and the main case of Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company v. Prescott et al., documents from at least six other suits, filed during 1874-1878, appear in these five volumes either as exhibits within the Atlantic and Pacific case or as individual documents in the volume of Telegraph Law Cases. Most of these suits relate to the question of ownership of Edison's quadruplex and involve Edison, George Harrington, George Prescott, Western Union, and the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Co. in shifting combinations as plaintiffs and defendants. For a chronological list of the litigation represented by documents in Quadruplex Case Volumes 70-73 and in Telegraph Law Cases, click here.
In addition to the five selected volumes of telegraph litigation, the ENHP also has several other bound volumes and printed briefs relating to the case of George Harrington and Thomas A. Edison v. Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company and Jay Gould, which was kept alive in the federal courts until 1913. (The bill of complaint in this suit appears as Defendants' Exhibit 35 in Quadruplex Case Volume 71.)
Exhibits and testimony from a 1905 hearing in the federal court for the Southern District of New York appear in a 450-page volume entitled Pleadings, Depositions and Proofs for Final Hearing. After deciding in favor of Harrington and Edison, the district court referred the case to a Master who was to conduct an accounting and fix damages. Testimony and exhibits from this proceeding appear in an 814-page volume entitled Testimony Before the Master. The archives of the ENHP also contains printed copies of briefs relating to subsequent appeals of this case to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Selected documents from this case can be found in National Archives, Northeast Region, New York, NY: Records of the District Courts of the United States (Record Group 21). Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.