NH dealer selling 1878 Bell note with phone sketch

By LYNNE TUOHY | January 5, 2012 | 3:20 PM EST

This image released Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, shows a page of an 1878 letter sent to his parents by Alexander Graham Bell. The drawing and accompanying discussion instructs how to ground the telephone Bell had invented. The letter is being auctioned by Amherst, N.H., dealer RRAuction. (AP Photo/RRAuction)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire dealer is auctioning a letter from Alexander Graham Bell to his parents instructing them to ground the telephone he invented by running a copper wire from their house to the duck pond.

The seven-page letter written in 1878 contains two drawings by Graham of the phone and how to run its elaborate wiring system to avoid harm from lightning strikes.

The vice president of RRAuction in Amherst says the letter is historically significant because of Bell's detailed discussion and drawings.

It was written just two years after Bell obtained the patent on the telephone and made his first call to assistant Thomas Watson.

Online bidding for the letter topped $17,000 Thursday. Livingston expects the bidding could reach as much as $80,000 by the auction's end Jan. 18.