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    Description

    Thomas J. Fales Archive containing thirty-five letters, both personal and professional, including letters and notes from Elizabeth Colt, the wife of Colonel Samuel Colt for whom Fales had once worked, a letters patent, a typed autobiographical sketch, power of attorney, business document, and approximately 100 photographs of the family and professional colleagues spanning the years 1839 through 1889.

    Highlights include:

    Thomas J. Fales Printed Account of the Explosion at his Factory. Three integral pages, 7.75" x 12.75", Hartford, December 13, 1854. Written in response to "the enquiries of many of our absent creditors, and in view of the turn which our matters have lately taken," Fales offers the following explanation, in part: "...on the 2nd of March the explosion of our steam boiler laid the vital part or our works - the steam power and machinery - in ruins...the loss of property at the time, and the expense of replacing the same, would not come under $30,000...Hardly had we repaired the damages and been a few days at work again, when our factory...was completely inundated by the flood of May 2nd, which caused us a loss...fully equal, if not greater, than...by the explosion eight weeks previously...The explosion and the flood had stopped our works so long that we were behind our hand on our contracts...when the [Robert] Schuyler fraud so completely changed the railroad interests...that the parties cut off their orders to the extent of $72,450...This last blow...made it impossible for us to go on." He goes on to explain the deal he and his partner with the creditors and the failure of the company to meet the demands.

    [Railroad Manufacturing] Tracy & Fales Grove Works Printed Circular advertising with engraved images of the plant at top and bottom. Three pages of a bifolium, circa 1850s. The circular includes testimonials from companies for whom they have built Railroad cars. Likely one of the last remaining images of the Grove Works which would suffer a cataclysmic explosion in March 1854.

    Carte de Visite Album more than 90 images of family and friends, most notably: Christian Sharps (firearms inventor) and his wife and children, Pomeroy Colt, Le Baron Colt, Nellie Colt, and many more. Overall condition of the images are excellent, with great detail and contrast.

    William H. Seward Passport Signed as Secretary of State. One partially printed page, 11.25" x 15.5", Washington, October 29, 1861, "to permit safely and freely to pass Thomas J. Fales a Citizen of the United States and in case of need to give him all lawful Aid and Protection." Countersigned by Thomas J. Fales. One small hole at upper left.

    Jonathan Nicolay Autograph Letter Signed "Jno. V. Nicolay." One page, 7.75" x 9.75", on "Executive Mansion" letterhead, Washington, January 17, 1863, to Thomas Fales. Nicolay, the personal assistant to President Abraham Lincoln, writes to Fales as Secretary of the Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, in full: "I have the pleasure to enclose an extract from a paper entitled 'Hole-in-the-Day," written by me in October last for 'Harper's Magazine' and published in the January (1863) number of that periodical." The letter is marked "Private" at the upper left. The newspaper clipping is attached near the left edge and tells the story of an unknown Indian chief who was given a new Colt revolving rifle by then President William Pierce and used it to ambush a party of Sioux, killing all of his foes. Small tear at the bottom.

    Elizabeth Colt Calling Card. 3.25" x 2", with original transmittal envelope addressed to "Mr & Mrs Fales/54 Governor Street." Mrs. Colt has written on the card "Tuesday Feb 12th from 5 to 8 o' clock. " With a second calling card, 3.25" x 1.25", signed "With the love of Mrs. Samuel Colt."

    Elizabeth Colt Autograph Note on her personal calling card, 3.25" x 2", to Mrs. Thomas Fales: "Dear Mrs Fales, I hope you & Miss Alice will drive with us at 4 o'clock to day. We were sorry not to see you last evening."

    Elizabeth Colt Autograph Note Signed. One page, 3.25" x 5.5", [Hartford], October 13, 1865. In full: "Mrs Samuel Colt will be happy to see Mr & Mrs Sharps this evening at 8 o'clock - to meet Gov & Mrs Morgan." Folds.

    Elizabeth Colt Autograph Note Signed "Elizabeth H. Colt." One page, 3.25" x 6", "Armsmear [Colt's Mansion, Hartford]," September 1, 1886, to Mrs. Thomas Fales. In full: "I thank you very much for your kind thought of me in sending the very fine pomegranites [sic]. I am gaining strength slowly, and think I shall be able to start for Sharon Springs on Friday next. With love & thanks for you & your dear grand daughter." Moderately toned along the edges.

    W. B. Franklin Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 7.75" x 9.75", on "Office of Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co." letterhead, Hartford, April 2, 1881. Franklin was vice president of the Colt P. F. A. M. Co. and is writing to Thomas J. Fales regarding the purchase of engines and selling of ore. In part: "I note what you say about the Barcelona engines, and hope that we shall soon get them. You know best about the German ore. It will be better to sell it for what it will fetch, than to keep the matter open...It will be well too to fix a price on the St. Petersburg engine which will dispose of it." Fales had just returned to Colt two months before, but left later in the month to pursue other employment.

    An extensive collection of material that is worthy of further research.


    More Information:

    Thomas Fales left his father's plantation on the island of Cuba in 1832 and obtained a job with Fesser Albers & Co., one of the largest import/export firms on the island. He worked for the firm for fifteen years and, by the end, he was managing the operation in Albers' absence. In the meantime, he married a native of Hartford, Connecticut who found Cuba unfavorable to her health, and the couple moved to the United States, settling in Hartford.

    In 1849, he went into business with John R. Tracy and established Tracy & Fales which manufactured passenger and freight cars for the railroad. In 1852, Tracy was bought out and Tracy & Fales became Fales & Gray. Business went well until 1854, when a boiler explosion destroyed the factory and killed 25 men, injuring 50 others. Coupled with Robert Schuyler's stock fraud the same year, the company went under.

    Fales floated from one business venture to another until he was contacted by arms manufacturer Samuel Colt. Colt offered Fales a job as Secretary of the Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, which he accepted in 1862. By this time, the war was on and business was booming. Fales worked for Colt for six years before he returned to Cuba with his family. Civil war broke out on the island, forcing the family to move back to Harford in 1870. He again moved from business to business, returning to Colt once in 1881, before dying sometime in the late 1880s. Lots 34056 through 34060 in this auction are from the personal papers of Thomas Fales.



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