Section of the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable from 1858, made into a souvenir and sold by Tiffany & Co. It is banded in brass at both ends, with an embossed central brass certification band. The complex core structure is shown by viewing either end.
In 1858, the first complete trans-Atlantic telegraph cable was laid by the ship U.S.S.F. Niagara. The cable was in operation for a short period of time, but then failed. Cyrus W. Field, the promoter of the Atlantic Cable project sold a quantity of unused Atlantic Cable to Tiffany & Co., to be cut into small lengths and sold as souvenirs. A facsimile document signed by Field originally was included with the cable, guarantying the authenticity of the cable.
Shown at right: Tiffany's Original Certification Letter, included when it sold cable specimens in 1858. The engraved letter was a facsimile of one Field provided to them. (1858 certification letter not for sale, however a photocopy is included with the purchase of a cable section.)
Text reads: "New York, Aug. 21st 1858. This is to certify that I have sold the balance of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable now on board of the U.S.S.F. "Niagara" to Messrs. Tiffany & Co. Jewelers No. 550 Broadway of this city, and that the piece which accompanies this, is a genuine section thereof. [/s/ Cyrus W. Field]"
New York inventor and industrialist Peter Cooper (1791-1883) was the first president and a principal investor in the project, along with a group of prominent New York businessmen, including telegraph inventor Samuel F.B. Morse. Cyrus W. Field (shown left), the prime mover of the project, took it on a few years after retiring from a successful business career at the age of 40. The massive project of laying miles of undersea cable met with great skepticism from most businessmen, and the practical difficulties resulted in many failed attempts, but eventually Field arranged for the first cable to be sent from Queen Victoria to President James Buchanan in 1858, an event greeted with great popular acclaim. Although the cable broke three weeks later, Field persevered for the next several years, getting additional financing and completing the project in 1866. Read more about the cable's history here.
Central brass certification band: "ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLE/ GUARANTEED BY/ TIFFANY & CO./ BROADWAY, NEW YORK. 1858."
Condition: Generally very good with some wear and oxidation. Brass re-polished.
“1866 Cyrus Field: The Laying of the Atlantic Cable.” CanadaHistory.com. http://www.canadahistory.com/sections/documents/atlanticcable1866.htm (1 December 2004).
“About the Cooper Union: History.” The Cooper Union. http://www.cooper.edu/administration/about/history.html (1 December 2004).
“Cyrus West Field.” National Portrait Gallery. http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/brady/gallery/78gal.html (4 March 2003).
“The Atlantic Cable Projectors.” FTL Design: History of the Atlantic Cable & Submarine Telegraphy. http://www.atlantic-cable.com/Projectors/ (1 December 2004).