"All of my inventions are turning out to be a splendid success"

Tesla, Nikola, Serbian-American inventor (1856-1943). Typed letter signed ("N. Tesla").

New York City, 27. II. 1909.

4to. 1 page and accompanying envelope. On Tesla Laboratory stationery. Includes one later typed letter unsigned, drafted to Tesla (Terryville, Long Island, 1 May 1911, 1 page), probably by A. D. Hawkins.


A rare glimpse into the mind of Nikola Tesla in early 1909, hard at work on his inventions and his investors alike. Communicating with Anita Drysdale Hawkins (1874-1957), a friend and employee at his Wardenclyffe plant, he discusses the recent departure of a troublesome guest, chastising himself: "I am glad that he is gone [...] Time and time again in my life I have made such mistakes and I always propose myself not to try to help others when in so doing I imperil myself, but it seems I am incorrigible. I have taken upon myself all of Mr. Warren's obligations and your brother [Ernest Clymer Hawkins, also employed at Wardenclyffe] need not pay any attention to the bills which might be presented to him, and for which he is in no way responsible [...]".

Tesla sends this letter from his offices in the City Investing Building at 165 Broadway, although on Tesla Laboratory letterhead with the iconic Wardenclyffe Tower at the top. Much of the letter addresses financial matters, which were a constant concern for Tesla and his employees. Nine years previously Tesla had met with J. P. Morgan to convince the financier that he would be able to use his resonant transformer technology (later dubbed the Tesla Coil) to be the first to broadcast messages across the Atlantic. Morgan eventually agreed to put up $150,000 in return for 51% of Tesla's patent rights. Tesla got to work as soon as the funds were disbursed, and construction began in September of 1901. However, the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was also working on long-distance wireless communication, and would be successful before Tesla. When Tesla petitioned Morgan for additional funds to continue his project after Marconi's success, Morgan refused. Tesla spent the ensuing years continuing to revise his plans while he searched for additional investors and continued to pursue Morgan. By the time the present letter was written, Tesla had been hounded by creditors for several years and had begun to work on other projects such as his bladeless turbine in an attempt to generate funds to complete his Wardenclyffe plant.

Despite his difficulties, it is apparent that Tesla remained energetic and optimistic. His effusive final paragraph reads, "You will be glad to know that all of my inventions are turning out to be a splendid success and I am positively expecting not only to resume the work on my plant very shortly, but also to bring it to completion, all from my own resources. You may now expect from me favorable news at any moment".

Gently creased, otherwise in good condition.