FAME AND FORTUNE
“At twenty-two,” the lecturer continued, “while Edison was with the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company, he often heard Jay Gould and ‘Jim’ Fisk, the great Wall Street operators of that day, talk over the money market. At night he ate his lunches in the coffee-house in Printing House Square, where he used to meet Henry J. Raymond, founder of The New York Times, Horace Greeley of the Tribune and James Gordon Bennett of the Herald, the greatest trio of journalists in the world. One of the most memorable remarks made by a frequenter of this night lunch, as recorded by Mr. Edison was:
“’This is a great place; a plate of cakes, a cup of coffee, and a Russian bath, all for ten cents!’
“The so-called bath was on account of the heat of the crowded room.
“Mr. Edison tells this story of the terrible panic in Wall Street, in September, 1869, brought on chiefly by the attempt of Jay Gould and his associates to corner the gold market:
“’On Black Friday we had a rather exciting time with our indicators. The Gould and Fisk crowd had cornered the gold and had run up the quotations faster than the indicator could record them. In the morning it was quoting 150 premium while Gould’s agents were bidding 165 for five millions or less.
“’There was intense excitement. Broad and other streets in the Wall Street district were crammed with crazy crowds. In the midst of the excitement, Speyer, another large operator, became so insane that it took five men to hold him. I sat on the roof of a Western Union booth and watched the surging multitudes.
“’A Western Union man I knew came up and said to me: “Shake hands, Edison. We’re all right. We haven’t got a cent to lose."’
“After the company with which our young inventor was connected had sold out its inventions and improvements to the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company, Mr. Edison produced a machine to print gold quotations instead of merely indicating them. The attention of the president of the Gold and Stock Company was attracted to the success of the wonderful young inventor.
“Edison had produced quite a number of inventions. One of these was the special ticker which was used many years in other large cities, because it was so simple that it could be operated by men less expert than the operators in New York. It was used also on the London Stock Exchange.
“After he had gotten up a good many inventions and taken out patents for them, the president of the big company came to see him and was shown a simple device to regulate tickers that had been printing figures wrong. This thing saved a good deal of labor to a large number of men, and prevented trouble for the broker himself. It impressed the president so much that he invited Edison into his private office and said, in a stage whisper: