A finely made, turned relic gavel made of dark stained hardwood as a souvenir and commemoration of Western Union. A round brass metal plate attached to one side of the gavel head has an illustration in black of the Historic Reynolds Arcade building, the “original home and birthplace of Western Union” in Rochester, New York in 1856. In the illustration, the building is flanked by depictions of abstracted telegraph poles and wires. This gavel is presumably made from relic wood salvaged from the building at the time it was razed in 1932. Indeed, according to an historical account on the web site of the Monroe County Library System, “[v]arious former occupants and local historians kept pieces of the Arcade, such as portions of the wooden railings, as mementos of the historic building.”
The Reynolds Arcade was Rochester’s first major commercial building, constructed by Abelard Reynolds (1785-1878) in 1828. A monumental structure, it stood for over 100 years and housed many important Rochester businesses and institutions, including the Post Office and the Reynolds Library. Western Union Telegraph Company, the Bausch & Lomb Optical Company and Ellwanger & Barry Nursery Company all started there. George B. Selden developed plans for the first practical gasoline engine in the Arcade. The building, which in 1828 had been the grandest and most expensive building west of Albany, was razed in 1932 and replaced the following year with a new Art Deco building, also named Reynolds Arcade, on the same site.
Western Union is a telecommunications company. Founded as the New-York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company in 1851, the name was changed to Western Union in 1856. During the 19th century, the company achieved many firsts in innovations in telecommunications including the transcontinental telegraph line across North America in 1861, the stock ticker in 1869, and wired money transfers in 1871. Although telegraph lines long ago became obsolete, the company continues to be a leading provider of electronic money transfer services.
Text on brass plate: 1828 Historic Reynolds Arcade 1933, Original Home & Birthplace of Western Union, 1856, Rochester, N.Y.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall minor wear and indentations to the wood. Some light oxidation to metal label.
“Our Rich History.” Western Union. 2014. http://corporate.westernunion.com/History.html (30 May 2014).
“The Reynolds Arcade.” Monroe County Library System. http://www.rochester.lib.ny.us/rochimag/architecture/LostRochester/Reynolds/Reynolds.htm (30 May 2014).