An Excelsior telegraphic date and time stamping machine
Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company, New York, early 20th century
The clockwork driven-machanism incorporating a series of wheels for independently advancing five sets of stamps for minutes, hours, date of the month, month and year, set between thick lacquered brass shaped plates over an electromagnetic coil operating a lever for raising a pad towards the time and date stamp assembly with track for ticker-tape type paper to pass between, the front with canted top rail engraved Excelsior and thick bevel-glazed panel concealing the coils to lower section, on moulded cast iron base, (lacking top and rear glasses and small tape spools), 20cm (8ins) high; with a brass tape feed spool incorporating automatic braking system, 15cm 96ins) wide, (2).
John Nelson Gamewell is recorded on The Firefighters Hall, Minneapolis website as born in Camden, South Carolina, in 1822 and died at Hackensack, New Jersey, on July 19, 1896. He saw the Channing and Farmer fire alarm system, recognized its value, and in 1855 purchased the rights to construct the fire alarm in the southern and western states. In 1859 he purchased all of the patents and launched his career in the Fire Alarm Telegraph field devoting his entire business life to its introduction and improvement.
His business venture was cut short from 1861 to 1865 during the Civil War. As a southerner, Gamewell had returned to South Carolina and the U.S. Government confiscated all his patents on the Fire Alarm Telegraph system and proceeded to sell them at public auction. An employee, John Kennard of Boston, went to Washington prepared to pay $20,000 for the patents. He bought them for the meager sum of $80.00 and returned them to Gamewell after the war.Shortly after the wars end, Gamewell again actively pursued the business under the name American Fire Alarm Telegraph, John N. Gamewell & Company, Proprietor.
In 1879, John Gamewell reorganized his company under the new name of Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company, made significant changes in the size and appearance of the fire alarm box and made improvements in its signaling mechanisms. The 'American Fire Alarm Telegraph' era came to an end but under the reorganization, the name 'Gamewell' would become synonymous with Fire Alarm Telegraph.
The current lot would have been used in a fire alarm system to record the time of an event. The dates on the year spool start at (19)20 and end at (19)46 suggesting that it was made prior to 1920.
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