On this Day Factola
January 19, 1889
"Sale of the Phonograph. Said to Have Caused Edison and His Lawyer to Fall Out." New York Times, January 19, 1889.
A story has been put in circulation respecting the business relations between Mr. Thomas A. Edison, the inventor, the Edison Electric Light Company, and Mr. John C. Tomlinson, the lawyer. The basis for it seems to be that the lawyer some months ago ceased to act as counsel for the inventor or the corporation by reason of a misunderstanding which, it is said, grew out of the sale of the phonograph patents to Mr. Jesse H. Lippincott of Pittsburg, since elected President of the North American Phonograph Company, which also controls the Tainter-Bell gramophone patents. It is said that the negotiations of the sale were conducted by Mr. Tomlinson, and the price is variously given at $500,000 and $750,000.
The point of the story is that Mr. Edison was not satisfied with his lawyer's doings, and not only severed the relationship, but instigated similar action by the electric light company. The facts are reported to have been investigated by a Director of the company. The rupture has been carefully concealed until the present time, and even now the persons most interested refuse to furnish any information. There has been no litigation, and, so far as could be learned yesterday, there is no prospect of a civil or criminal action.
The legal representative of the North American Phonograph Company is authority for the statement that the comporation [sic] or the sub-companies are are in no way implicated, as the breach occurred before the parent charter was obtained in July. Mr. Tomlinson only returned from Europe recently, and both he and Mr. Edison appear to be very much annoyed at the publicity given their private affairs.
It is recalled that when Mr. Edison sold out to Mr. Lippincott the price was announced at $1,000,000. The phonograph company's lawyer said that only Messrs. Edison and Lippincott and possibly Mr. Tomlinson knew what the price actually was. The company, he said, would not sell out for many millions and will begin supplying machines for practical use Feb 1.