House, Royal Earl
Hagley Museum & Library
Manuscripts & Archives Department
P.O. Box 3630
Wilmington, DE 19807-0630
Royal Earl House (1814-1895) was an inventor who was born in Rockland, Vt. During the mid 1840s House became interested in electricity and focused his efforts on producing an electric telegraph that could print Roman character letters. In 1846 he secured a patent for an alpha-numerical telegraph that could print at the rate of fifty words per minute. By 1855 an extensive range of telegraph lines equipped with his printing telegraph was erected from Boston to New York and Washington and west to Cleveland and Cincinnati. In 1849 he was sued for infringement by the owners of the Morse patents and won the suit. However, after the general consolidation of competitive telegraph interests took place around 1850, House's apparatus went out of use. During the 1860s House developed an electro-phonetic receiver for use in telegraphy. This device was really an early telephone and many observers felt it was superior to the telephone that Alexander Graham Bell patented in 1876. In 1885 Bell sued House for patent infringement. Again, House won in court but his device lost in the marketplace. The 29 letters in this collection documents Alexander Graham Bell's suit against Royal Earl House. Included are letters from House's patent lawyers A.M. Wooster and Leonard Pope. Also included are letters from the Wallace Electric Telephone Manufacturing Co. which was manufacturing the House telephone during the 1880s.