Beautifully engraved Certificate from the The Mackay Companies
in 1922. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of mercury flying over the globe with lightning bolts beneath him. This item is hand signed
is over 90 years old.
John William Mackay (November 28, 1831-July 20, 1902) was an American capitalist, born in Dublin, Ireland.
In 1884, with James Gordon Bennett, Jr., Mackay formed the Commercial Cable Company — largely to fight Jay Gould and the Western Union Telegraph Company — laid two transatlantic cables, and forced the toll-rate for transatlantic messages down to twenty-five cents a word. In connection with the Commercial Cable Company, he formed in 1886 the Postal Telegraph Company as a domestic wire telegraph company so that Commercial would not need to rely on Western Union to collect and distribute telegraphic messages. Until Mackay and Bennett entered the field, all submarine cable traffic between the United States and Europe went over cables owned by the American financier Jay Gould. A rate war followed that took almost two years to conclude. Jay Gould finally quit trying to run John Mackay out of business. He was quoted as saying, "You can't beat Mackay, all he has to do when he needs money is go to Nevada and dig up some more".
Statue of John William Mackay in front of Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering by Gutzon Borglum from June 1908.
Once Mackay had conquered the Atlantic with the Commercial Cable Company and the vast land mass of North America with the Postal Telegraph Company he turned his sights on laying the first cable across the Pacific. He subsequently formed the Commercial Pacific Cable Company in secret partnership with the Great Northern Telegraph Company and the Eastern Telegraph Company and although he died in 1902 before this part of his vision was completed, his son Clarence Mackay, saw the project through to completion between 1904 and 1906. Commercial Pacific operated a cable line from San Francisco to Manila, Philippines, via Hawaii and Guam, with a subsequent spur that went from Manila to Shanghai, China.
The Mackay System expanded under Clarence H. Mackay's leadership, acquiring several other entities including the Federal Telegraph Company, its radio stations and research laboratories, in 1927. In 1928, the entire system was bought out by Sosthenes Behn's International Telephone and Telegraph. ITT organized the Postal Telegraph & Cable Corporation as a shell to acquire and control the Mackay System on May 18, 1928. Though plagued with financial troubles during the Great Depression, the Mackay System continued to be the chief rival of Western Union until 1943. In March of that year, Congress authorized an amendment (Section 222) to the Communications Act of 1934 permitting the merger of the domestic operations of telegraph companies (clearing the way for Western Union to acquire Postal Telegraph). By May 1943 a merger plan had been put together, which the FCC approved by September, and the merger was complete by October 1943. The international communications (cable and radio) parts of the Mackay system remained with ITT.
History from Wikipedia and
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