History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
Books: 1865/66 - The Atlantic Telegraph
The Atlantic Telegraph: Its History,
from the Commencement of the Undertaking in 1854, to the Return of the
“Great Eastern” in 1865.
This is the first edition (of three), all published by George Washington Bacon of London, whose main business was in maps and atlases. Bacon also published broadsides on The Atlantic Telegraph, with editions in 1865 and 1866.
Entries for The Atlantic Telegraph as catalogued by OCLC list three portraits, but this copy has four real photographs - see below.
Copies of the first edition are held at: Yale University Library, New Haven, Connecticut; Dibner Library at the Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC; Detroit Public Library, Detroit, Michigan; University of Texas Library, Austin, Texas.
Two further editions of the book were published in 1866; one before and one after the successful expedition of that year:
[Data from Dictionary of Books Relating to America, from Its Discovery to the Present Time, by Joseph Sabin. Published by the author, New-York, 1867. Links are to Google Books].
Shown above is the first edition, published in 1865 after the return of the Great Eastern from the unsuccessful cable laying voyage of that year. The book includes two maps showing existing cables, a fold-out diagram of the Great Eastern, and four tipped-in real photographs of Cyrus Field and other members of the expedition.
It seems likely that this copy was a special production, as other copies are listed as having three portraits, and these are line drawings rather than photographs. See below.
In the Catalogue of the Wheeler Gift (entry 1633), Latimer Clark’s copy of this book is described as having two photographic portraits:
The sad remains of the Wheeler Gift Collection are now languishing largely inacessible at the New York Public Library, and I have not been able to check this copy.
Kirsten van der Veen notes that the Dibner Library’s copy of this edition has line-drawing portraits of Cyrus Field (between p.16-17), William Thomson (between p.24-25) and Cromwell F. Varley (between p.56-57).
In the copy shown on this page, however, the three line drawings have evidently been removed and replaced with four photographs: Cyrus Field has been moved to page 5 and William Thomson to page 16; Henry Clifford replaces William Thomson at page 24; and Samuel Canning replaces Cromwell F. Varley at page 56. The three original line drawings may be seen at the end of this page.
The photographs from this copy are shown below; for comparison, the sketches are by Henry O’Neil. Originally published in the ship’s newspaper on board Great Eastern in 1865, O’Neil’s sketches were reproduced in Willoughby Smith’s 1891 book The Rise and Extension of Submarine Telegraphy.
Charles Bright, in his 1898 book Submarine Telegraphs, says of the 1865 and 1866 expeditions:
Line drawing images courtesy of the
See also G.W. Bacon’s broadsides on The Atlantic Telegraph, with editions published in 1865 and 1866.
Last revised: 1 December, 2016