[EDISON, THOMAS ALVA. 1847-1931.]
Engraved $1 Bill, Endorsed and Signed by Charles L. Clarke on face and reading in full: "This bill is one from a total amount of $50.40 which was the first bill collected for the sale of Edison Electric Light in first Central Station District, New York City. Jan. 18 / 1883. Ansonia Brass & Copper Company. 17 & 19 Cliff Street. This light was furnished through a Meter. Chas. L. Clarke." Slipped into an album leaf additionally signed twice ("Chas. L. Clarke"), endorsement mostly re-traced in red ink, two small slits for insertion into leaf, bill well-worn but intact, leaf chipped at edges.
TURNING ON THE LIGHTS IN NEW YORK CITY: THE MOST HISTORIC "FIRST DOLLAR" BILL that we locate ever being offered for public sale. Charles L. Clarke (1853-1941) was Chief Engineer of the Edison Electric Light Company and as such responsible for Pearl Street Station in New York, the world's first commercial power plant. Pearl Street began producing power for New York companies in September of 1882 but the customers were not charged until Edison was reasonably confident of continued uninterrupted service. By January they were charging customers, Ansonia Brass was the first to pay, for $50.40 and before the year was out they collected over $9000. Clarke continued to work for Edison Electric Light, which later became part of General Electric.