Certificate #489. The American Bell Telephone Company. RARE Stock certificate for 300 shares. Issued to and signed on stub and verso by Thomas Sanders (1839 - 1911). A financially successful leather merchant, Sanders met Alexander Graham Bell while the latter was tutoring his deaf-mute son. Along with Gardiner Hubbard, Sanders became a primary financial supporter of Bell’s experiments in the development of the telephone. He served as the first treasurer of Bell Telephone. The American Bell Telephone Company was formed on March 20, 1880 as a result of the merger of The Bell Telephone Company and New England Telephone Company. William Hathaway Forbes (W. H. Forbes) signed the certificate as president. Dated May 1, 1880.
William Hathaway Forbes (1840–1897) was an American businessman. He was born on October 31, 1840 in Milton, Massachusetts. His father, John Murray Forbes, was a French-born railroad magnate.
Forbes enrolled at Harvard University in 1857, but he was expelled in 1860. During the American Civil War of 1861-1865, he served in the 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry of the Union Army from 1861 to 1863, and in the 2nd Regiment of Cavalry, Massachusetts Volunteers from 1863 to 1865. He was captured by the Confederate States Army on July 6, 1864 and imprisoned in Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina until December 1864. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University in 1871.
Forbes started his career at J.M. Forbes & Co., an investment firm founded by his father.
In the later 1870s, Forbes was approached by Gardiner Greene Hubbard and Thomas Sanders to invest in their Bell Telephone Company. Not only did Forbes invest, he encouraged some of his wealthy acquaintances to do so too. Subsequently, Forbes served as the President of the Bell Telephone Company from 1879 to 1887.
Forbes married Edith Emerson, the daughter of poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. They had six sons, Ralph Emerson Forbes, W. Cameron Forbes, John Murray Forbes (who died at age 17 of appendicitis), Edward W. Forbes, Waldo Emerson Forbes and Alexander Forbes, and two daughters, Edith Forbes and Ellen Randolph Forbes.