Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2002 Issue

Portrait of the CEO/Politico as Collector: Chatting with Steve Forbes

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[Thomas JEFFERSON, President] Notes on State of Virginia


AT: We have already talked about the first item in the collection that your father acquired and the story behind it. Will it be offered as part of the Christie’s sale? If not, why not?

SF: You’re referring to the Abraham Lincoln note to Stanton about Tad. We are not selling that piece, both for sentimental reasons and also because it’s Abraham Lincoln [one of SF’s most admired Presidents].

AT: What are/were the qualifications for including a book or manuscript in the Forbes Manuscript Collection of Americana?

SF: The book or manuscript must either shed light on history or make history or shed light on persons who made history. Things like Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, an amazing item which combines the personal with the historical. Also Jefferson trying to raise money for the University of Virginia. James Madison discussing nullification when South Carolina essentially decided it could nullify laws it didn’t like. Madison made it clear that they couldn’t do that. It is very rare to have Madison, one of the architects of the Constitution, writing on paper on Constitutional issues after the Constitutional Convention.

AT: Why collect American books and manuscripts? What about Americana drew your father to it and draws you to it as a subject?

SF: Simply put, American history is fascinating. We are the only country that was created from scratch. It is fascinating to see the sharp and conscious beginning of a peoples deciding to create a new country.

AT: I know that your Americana collection consists mainly of unique Presidential and campaign-related material. Which President’s works are in your estimation most desirable to collect, and why?

Rare Book Monthly

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