This collection consists of six letters to and from Pusey Bancroft Heald (1896-1972), the father of the collection's present owner. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Heald graduated from Swarthmore College in 1918 and successfully completed the Edison questionnaire in 1921. A business card with the West Orange laboratory as his address indicates that he may have worked briefly for Edison. By 1924, he was working for the J. A. Foster Co. in Providence, Rhode Island. Established in 1876 by James A. Foster (1846-1919) and incorporated in 1898, the company began as a jewelry business and eventually became a retailer of Edison phonographs and recordings.
The letters cover the years 1921 and 1924-1925. The first letter, written by Edison's assistant William H. Meadowcroft, informs Heald that "Mr. Edison has passed favorably upon your questionnaire" and would like to see him at the laboratory. The remaining letters relate to Edison's phonograph business. Included is discussion of the decline in the sales of phonographs and recordings due to general economic conditions and competition from radios and "the cheap auto trade"; strategies to boost phonograph sales; Edison's preference for canvassing and demonstrations over newspaper advertising; differences between urban and rural markets; competition from the Victor Co.; and the quality of Victor's new electrical records compared to its old acoustic records. One letter contains Edison's assessment of the future of radio: "There is no doubt that radio will become universal but as a business proposition for a dealer it is a disaster and will always be." Courtesy of Suzanne H. Meegan.