Alexander Bain, so well known in this country as the inventor of the Chemical Tele graph, has recently failed in England, and has applied for a discharge in the Court of Bank ruptcy. His debts to unsecured creditors amounted to . 8,044, to others holding securi ty, 3,628, amounting to about $58,000. His available assets amounted to 40 in good debts, and 892 in property ; the property of his patents was also given up, amounting to a large sum, according to the inventor's esti mate, such as his Electric Clock patent, a pa tent Ship Log, and his Chemical Telegraph; he has patents for his Electric Clock for France, Belgium, and England, and his Che mical Telegraph has been patented in all the civilized countries in the world. Upon the examination, Mr. Bain made a statement of his history as an inventor. He was a clock-maker by trade, and belonged to John O'Groats, in the North of Scotland, which place he left and came to England in 1837. His attention was soon directed to the application of moving clocks, by electricity, and he soon devised a plan (or moving all the clocks in the kingdom by one clock connect ed with the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, to keep true Greenwich time, and he also ap plied his principle to common clocks, only his required no winding. He obtained his first patent in 1841, and a second and third one for Electric Clocks and Telegraphs in 1843. He also, at this time, invented a telegraph to print the common alphabet, which was made public property. In 1846 he joined the Electric Te legraph Company in London, against whom he had instituted proceedings for ar. infringe ment of his patent. His patent was purcha sed by them for . 7,500 and a contingent sum of 2,500. In 1846 he obtained a patent for his Electro Chemical Telegraph, which, he says," is an invention surpassing all others in the speed ot transmitting messages, and the ElectrieJUompany, appreciating its value, pur chased the right for Britain, Ireland, and the Colonies for 13,250, one half to be paid in cash and the other half in shares ot the com pany." A portion of the cash he received, but in 1848 a compromise was made and he re ceived back all his patents, some of which are now working successtully on the best lines in England. In that year, 1848, he came to the United States for the purpose ot obtaining pa tents and selling his invention. His Chemi cal Telegraph was open to the press here the week after his arrival; we visited it, and at our own expense, knowing it was a subject of interest, published an engraving of it on page 273, Vol. 3, Scientific American. From an examination of this Telegraph we became satisfied that it was entirely different in essence and principle from the Electro-Magnet Telegraph, or any other ever exhibi ted in our country. Mr. Bain made applica tion for a patent, and was rejected, upon the grounds that it interfered with a caveat of Prof. Morse, riled in the Patent Office. We gave the subject great care and attention, and came to the conclusion, that obstructions of an illegal character were placed in the way of this stranger inventor by some in the Pa tent Office, whose personal and interested feelings led them to act like persecutors, rather than judges, to do justice alike to every appli cant for a patent. Since then, from a know ledge of Prof. Morse's Chemical Telegraph, whien is not worth a single straw, and which cinnot operate as a telegraph at all, that is as it is represented in his drawings, we hum bly believe that the Chemical Telegraph of Prof. Morse was set up merely to blockade the path of another rival Telegraph. The Patent Office decided against Mr. Bain, and refused to grant him a patent j he appealed to Judge Cranch, and was successful. The Pa tent Office was ordered to grant the Patent for the Chemical Telegraph, and shortly after this he sold his first patent right (U. S) to Messrs. Rogers, Barwain Lea, of Baltimore, who established a line of the Chemical Tele graph between Philadelphia and Baltimore. This was the Company against whom an in junction was sought by the proprietors of Morse's patent, for infringing on the Electro- Magnet Telegraph, in which case Judge Kane made that decision, which our readers well know we have spoken against as illegal and wrong in every sense. An appeal was to have been taken to the U. S. Supreme Court, but the Company of Messrs. Rogers Co., made a compromise for their own benefit, but much to the injury of the interests of the inventor. Six lines have been established in our country, worked by the Bain Chemical Telegraph. Mr. Lefferts, of this city,we believe, owns most of Mr. Bain's rights. We suppose that he ob tained considerable money for his patent, but the expense to which he was subjected by un just opposition must have been enormous, we have looked upon him as an injured man. We would not say so unless we were convin ced of this. His Patent Agent was Mr. Ser-rell, of this city (now deceased), an old and respectable citizen. We'have never had any business transaction with Mr. Bain, and spoke to him only a few times, and our conversations were but short. When he first arrived here we formed a high opinion of his abilities as an inventor, and excellent machinist. His inventive faculties were high, and his hands could execute what his head designed. From being so much harrassed and persecuted, we observed, before he left New York last, that a great change had taken place in his appear ance since 1848. We were sorry to observe it; we would not like to be in the place ot some of those who did so much to injure his interests our conscience could not feel at ease. He is now poor, and according to the ways of the world, he will find few to say a word in his case, since there is no money in his purse to pay for it. His inventions, how ever, will carry his name down to the end ol time, and his fac-simile telegraph may yet be so improved as to supersede all others. These remarks have been dictated by a sense of our duty to inventors, based upon the principles of justice and truth. No personal considerations ever prompted us to say a word in his favor, nor one against those who oppo sed him : the Scientific American is not con ducted to carry out such feelings, and never has exhibited them. Independent and free to speak at aif times on every question of inte rest to science and inventors, we speak the truth right out as we believe it, whether for rich or poor, friend or stranger, and abide the result, confident in " hunesty being the best policy."
This article was originally published with the title "Bain, the Inventor of the Chemical Telegraph" in Scientific American 8, 33, 258 (April 1853)