THE AMERICAN INVENTOR CORRECTS AND UPDATES HIS BIOGRAPHY
RICHARD J. GATLING. Typed Letter Signed to George Routledge & Sons, Hartford CT, 26 April 1890. 1 page, 8½" x 10½", on Gatling Gun Company letterhead. With a proof of a biographical profile of Gatling that contains Gatling’s own handwritten corrections.
Originally a successful inventor and manufacturer of agricultural machines, Richard J. Gatling turned his attention to weaponry with the coming of the Civil War. He patented his famous rapid-fire machine gun in 1862, but because top U.S. army officials strongly resisted any new weapons, the Gatling gun was little used during the Civil War and was not officially adopted by the American army until 1866. Elsewhere in the world, however, the gun was widely adopted, especially by the British, French, and Russian armies, and it was much used in warfare in the second half of the nineteenth century. During that time, Gatling continued to work on improvements in his gun and on other weaponry as well as on inventions in his original field, agricultural equipment.
Here Gatling writes to the publishing firm of George Routledge & Sons, which was evidently at work on a biographical directory. The company had sent Gatling a proof of its profile of him, which is present here. This is a printed column measuring about 1¾" wide x 4¼" long, attached to a larger sheet measuring 5¼" x 8½". At the top of the sheet is a note from the firm asking Gatling, “Please revise and return....”
In response, Gatling has written several corrections on the proof sheet itself and has also provided new information to be added to his biography in his letter. The printed biography is quite detailed, including a very specific list of his many inventions. It also notes that Gatling attended medical lectures for a time, and here Gatling has added, “Laporte, Ind,” as one of the locations for his medical studies. Further down in the column, he has penned an asterisk and then an X to indicate places where information, found in his accompanying letter, should be inserted.
In the letter, Gatling states, “The enclosed sketch of my life is correct as far as it goes.” But he then offers information that should be added to it. “I have, since the sketch was written, invented an improved method of casting large cannon of steel, and also a Torpedo and Gun-Boat and a Pneumatic Gun for discharging high explosives.” He has placed an asterisk before this paragraph to show that it should be inserted at the spot in the proof where he has written an asterisk.
“I have been in Europe a number of times,” he continues. “I was in France and exhibited my guns at the Paris Exposition in 1867.” Before this paragraph, he has written an X to show that it should be inserted where he has marked an X on the proof. He has signed the letter, “R. J. Gatling.”
The letter is written on Gatling Gun Company stationery, and is in very good condition, with Gatling’s signature exceptionally large and dark. The accompanying proof sheet is also in very good condition.
A very unusual pair of items. $4500.00
Gatling's letter is shown above;
below is the proof of his biography
with his handwritten corrections and insertions
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