FIELD, CYRUS W. (1819-1892). American businessman who financed the first transatlantic cable as part of the Atlantic Telegraph Company. SP (verso). (“Cyrus W. Field”). 1p. Cabinet. N.p., N.d. A fine Ludovici photograph of an engraving made after Daniel Huntington’s portrait of Field in New York’s Metropolitan Museum, boldly signed on the verso.
Born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the son of prominent pastor David Dudley Field, 15-year-old Field relocated to New York City to seek his fortune. After working as an errand boy and apprentice, he entered the paper business with his brother, and, despite initial obstacles, turned the venture into a success, retiring with $250,000 at the age of 34. His canny business sense included the funding of painter Frederic Church’s Andes expeditions in order to generate appeal for investors in Field’s South American ventures.
In 1854, Field joined Peter Cooper, Samuel F.B. Morse and several other investors in what would come to be called the “Cable Cabinet,” financing cable systems that rivaled Western Union. Their major accomplishment was constructing the first transatlantic telegraph cable, begun in 1854 and completed in 1858, which allowed Queen Victoria to send a congratulatory message in Morse code to President James Buchanan in August. The cable was destroyed the following month, however, and not replaced until 1866. In his later years Field invested in railroads but lost much of his fortune. A lovely image, the photographic mount of which has been trimmed. With some minor dust staining and light wear. In fine condition and rare in this format.