[Written at top of letter:] Wm. Dunn 16/1/85W2656 TO ISAAC B. MCQUESTEN from William Dunn
Jan 12 1885
From: New York
Your letter of a couple weeks ago was received. A few days prior to its arrival your brother called on me in reference to a communication from me informing him "The car couple Models were here" and subject to his disposal, if he had an opportunity to use them.1 At the meeting I showed him the plan of the "improvements" I intended making and stated. I proposed applying for a Patent without delay.2 He said he knew a party reliable and thoroughly conversant with the Patent business and if I finished the Drawings &c. he would have the matter attended to at once. I refused to get up the Patent Office Drawings, knowing that all Patent Attorneys preferred their own and made no allowance for others in fact this [is not??] in accordance with the rule. But I promise to finish detailed sketches and explanations for the purpose thinking that if he selected the Attorney it might inspire him with more confidence and learn the objectives. I proposed the sketches [??] and delivered them to him [about??] [??] days ago. I saw him on Saturday and getting his Sett done, excepting some discussion on the subject with the advisers who it turns out are not Patent Solicitors but will have to pass the work over to someone else. The [??] of all the parties are studiously kept hidden from me and the procedure evidently is. I am to instruct the [??] and he in turn is to instruct the attorney. Apart from being the most extrordinary procedure in the annals of Patent Applications. It will be an admissable way of consuming time and presents to me the appearance of an attempt at carrying out something. [Assume??] plan to master the business so as to have me in a proper state of subjection.
I told the Doctor I had no faith in his selection of an Attorney. This distrust arose merely from what he said. But he said that there would be no mistakes because he would see the specification before it was sent off. By this it was evident that I was not to see it. And it was plain to me he supposed that after I had supplied the sketches. And he had [??] out of me all the necessary information. I could be ignored. Your knowledge [of the??] patent laws &c. will tell you he will be able to be [??] unless I am willing to swear and make affidavits to that which I have not seen. This will hardly be done by [then??]. I have gone over this to show the state of affairs. If things have not been satisfactorily progressed by Thursday. I shall employ an Attorney of my own selection and have the Patent applied for at [once??]. My advice to the Doctor was to have a search made, this ought to have taken 4 days and no longer, and I cannot afford to waste time to lessen the expenses of any one when it is contrary to my own judgement. I did not say much to the Doctor on the subject as he appears to think it shrewd to back me in the work, about everything so I follow suit. It is not exactly the way to make the efforts pleasant or successful. But he must think so. However, I do not intend to let any of the unpleasant fortunes influence or deter me from pushing the business. If an incubus presents itself in any shape I shall relieve myself of it promptly if I can and [go on??] as though it had not existed.
As I stated before prospects for disposing of the Coupler are better now than they have ever been. Instead of the question being ignored it has now become a subject of enquiry. [But??] now is the time to push it. The [Massachusetts??] comissions have selected five Couplers which they accept as meeting the requirments of the Law but that does not deter others from being accepted [but??] might hereafter be presented to their consideration that they merely decided what were practical and safety couplers [sic]. It would have given [this??] status had it been bought before [then??] [and??] been affirmed. I had intended going to Boston with the Models here, but decided to wait until the new Models are ready. I have brought the Coupler to the notice of the most prominent "Promoters" in this city and have been promised his aid, in fact he is going to see the largest Railroad Supply Dealer in the city and get his views on the subject. The agitation on the subject has [??] the practical couplers down to a very few, this is greatly in favor of finding a market because I do not recollect of any one doubting the practicability of this one. I will send you the Drawings of the five accepted at Boston, with this letter.-- Independent of the Patent which there will be no doubt about getting as I have searched the records myself pretty thouroughly.
New Models are essential before anything is done and a full sized Coupler. The Models I am getting made now and shall want to alter them next week if possible. In fact all that is possible to have done this month. I must do because [??] of first of February, my time will be greatly [occupied] with some other business that will not [??] to devote the attention to the changes necessary. [Next??] month I am comparatively free,waiting the completion of the Exhibition Halls. It was the intention to open them on the 1st of December last.3 But on examination the Piers in the Halls sustaining the Arches were unsound and they now have to be all taken down. This unexpected development has entailed a considerable loss to me, because it has prevented Exhibits being entered that would have netted me at least $100 per month. Hence I will not realize or until the Halls are opened, I had hoped to carry on the negotiations of the Coupler at my own expense but owing to the circumstance above related I cannot do it without decided delay. Independent of my own labor for the balance of this month which I cheerfully give, it will cost me for Models and a couple of full sized Couplers and changing the [Patents??] which is the greatest expense, in the neighborhood of a Hundred Dollars, this I have not got at present. My anxiety in having the most [??] work done now because it would require constant personal attention which I can bestow at present, whereas negotiating the matter afterwards requires but intervals which I could always arrange. If I thought and had there been no change in the prospects of the Coupler [being??] made [??] I would not have advised the devoting any further expense in it, but merely to look out for some "speculation" and try to recoup the outlay. As it is I am still in favor of finding some parties who have influence and disposing of it to them in bulk and letting them place it as they choose. I hope the forgoing part of this letter will not be considered as being written in a spirit of bitterness &c. for it is not. It is merely to serve a [??] should I have to adapt any particular course in the interests of the Coupler, that might be [??] into somthing contrary to that which governed me.
Wm [William] Dunn
[P.S.] In the couplers selected I notice in some of the "papers" that objections are raised to several of them Janney, Gamell, and Hilliard, that they are more dangerous to couple with those now in use than the ordinary Couplers and this is a great objection because it will be years before all the cars are equipped with Automatic Couplers.
1 Although Dunn had told Isaac and Calvin Brooks that the models were ready and available for them, they were not delivered in a timely fashion and it is possible that the McQuestens never actually received them (see W1728 for information and links). Isaac had had many difficulties in his dealings with Dunn, particularly that he had supplied Dunn with funds but Dunn was largely unsuccessful in selling his patents and Isaac received little money for his investments. He considered suing, but it is not clear whether or not he in fact did so. See W2554a for more on Dunn.
2 Dunn already had patents on a train car coupler and it appears as though he has made further improvements on his own device which he intends to patent. However, there were some issues that the design may have been too much like another coupler already in use to be profitable (W1707, W1711, W1712, W2667, W1532, W2671, W2675, W1714, W1721, W1741).
3 This may refer to an exhibition that Dunn claimed he had wanted to enter in order to demonstrate his patented devices. See W1709 for an advertisement of this exhibition.