Category Archives: Gustave Eiffel

RR Autograph Auction Gustave Eiffel French engineer

RR Autograph Auction Gustave Eiffel

RR Autograph Auction Gustave Eiffel

French engineer (1832–1923) best remembered for designing the tower that bears his name. ALS in French, signed “G. Eiffel,” one page both sides, 5.25 x 4, February 13, 1893. Letter to “my dear Paul.” In full (translated): “Since your letter, I have been badly hurt by the condemnation that has struck me, and which has aroused general disapproval from Paris. I have been sent many expressions of sympathy, which have touched me greatly, but among those the ones sent from my family are the most sensible to me. This judgment that has surprised everyone is in fact an invasion of justice by politics which the most unbearable of tyrannies. I have confidence in the court to reverse this heinous decree, of which, the terms, if you know them, have probably shocked you. I was touched by your expression toward me that this decree will surely change. Receive for you and your close ones.” A handwritten response, presumably from the recipient, also in French, reads, “Response, Berne, I4 Febr., night. I am enchanted that your important present preoccupations still allowed you to think of me. At least in this moment I will also tell you, my brave [friend], that my opinion on all this had not varied one iota, even after the insertion of the Eve condemnations. From the moment it started, with a big lie and a big deception, it was obvious it will end in ineptitude. Those who organized this, are certainly no amateurs, but when the Press received the copies from them to print, it does not look at them too closely, it is very disciplined, and even when the joke becomes macabre, the Press still tips its hat. When one has seen as have the day of the first of January [18]90, one is at ease with the definitive issues; those who have conferred to you, knew them with whom they had to deal, knowing well to support you for your important day, because they will not let themselves be mystified for too long. Therefore, my dear [friend] you see that the experience makes me see things much more clearly than the vulgar, and that even the court would not demolish all this. I will say once more, like Cato, ‘cause viti mihi placuit.’ Receive my demonstrations of friendship which are stronger than ever.” In fine condition, with a small pencil notation to reverse and response approaching beginning of Eiffel’s text.

In 1887, Eiffel was hired as a contractor to design and build the Panama Canal by The French Panama Canal Company. After a year of work, the company suspended payments and put the project into liquidation, leading to a political and financial scandal that destroyed Eiffel’s reputation. He was charged along with the project’s directors with raising money under false pretenses and misappropriation of funds, and found guilty on February 9, 1893, fined 20,000 francs and sentenced to two years in prison. (As predicted in this letter, the court did later “reverse this heinous decree,” acquitting him upon appeal.) Eiffel was shocked and deeply hurt by the scandal, and just one day after writing this letter, he resigned from the Board of Directors of the Compagnie des Establissments Eiffel and demanded that his name be removed from the company. A deeply personal letter from the lowest point in an otherwise remarkable career. Pre-certified PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Gustave Eiffel


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