Beautifully engraved certificate from the Western Union Telegraph Company
no later than 1969. This historic document was printed by the De La Rue Banknote Company and has an
ornate border with a vignette of a woman sitting infront of a city skyline. This item has the printed signatures of the Company’s President and Secretary and is over 41 years old.
The Western Union Telegraph Company began in 1851 to provide telegraphic communications services in the United States. Originally known as the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company, Western Union built the nation’s first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861. The company briefly entered the telephone field but, after losing a court battle with Bell Telephone in 1879, turned completely to telegraph communications.
Western Union’s telegraph business grew rapidly, and by 1943, after acquiring Postal Telegraph and some 500 other competitors, it was easily the largest company in its field. During the 1960s, faced with steeply declining telegraph revenues and rising costs, the company moved into a number of other related services, such as time-sharing computer systems, teleprinters, and satellite communications. The Western Union Corp., formed in the 1970s, eventually sold off its communications businesses and emerged in the early 1990s as the New Valley Corporation, a banking services and real estate company.
Another division of the original company, Western Union Financial Services, became a subsidiary of First Data Corp. in 1995. The company now specializes in electronic money transfers, electronic mail and fax services, and telegrams (delivered via the World Wide Web); by the late 1990s there were 78,000 Western Union locations in 172 countries.