The quintessential American inventor and the most influential figure of the millennium, Thomas Elva Edison gave us many devices that eminently influenced life around the globe, including phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long lasting, practical electric bulb. Regarded as the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, Edison is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication, and in particular telecommunications. Now, an extraordinary scientific journal ‘laboratory notebook’ that showcases the legendary inventor Thomas A Edison’s last experimental work done at the request of Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in the late 1920s is up for grabs as the star highlight in a forthcoming Freeman’s Auctioneers US auction on September 20th.
This original black leather laboratory notebook with edges occasionally rubbed boasts 117pp and endpapers of pencil notations in Edison’s hand, along with several pencil drawings.
This journal actually includes experiments to find alternative organic sources for the production of rubber. In the late 1920s, Edison’s last experimental work was originally done at the request of Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, when they asked this inventor to find a substitute source of rubber for use in automobile tires.
Interestingly, the natural rubber used for tires up to that time came from a rubber tree, which eventually doesn’t grow in the U.S. So, it was becoming increasingly expensive. In order to find a suitable alternative solution, Edison tested thousands of different plants, and found a type of Goldenrod weed that could produce enough rubber to be practicable. Notably, Edison was still working on it at the time of its death.
Edison actually kept a systematic record of his experiments in 1871, and an extensive collection of his laboratory notebooks are kept in Thomas Edison National historic park administered by Rutgers University. However, only few of those notebooks are in private hands, including this journal that records Edison’s experiments between 24th October 1927 and 9th January 1928.
UPDATE: The last of Thomas Edison's notebook to go on auction surpassed the estimate and has been fold for $50,000 - double its estimated price of $25,000. The journal features Edison's experiments done between October 24, 1927 and January 9, 1928, and is one of a just a few of Edison's journals available to private collectors, the majority being held by the Thomas Edison National Historic Park.