Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2009 Issue

Seth Kaller Displays Lincoln Artifacts in New York

Kallernyse

Seth Kaller (right of "Abe Lincoln") helps ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.


By Michael Stillman

Seth Kaller, of Seth Kaller Historic Documents, recently joined in for the traditional ringing of the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. This did not represent a sudden career change for the New York dealer in major historical documents, but a logical connection to a specialty - Abraham Lincoln. Kaller has handled some of the most spectacular Lincoln items, and on February 12, the Stock Exchange was celebrating the 16th President's 200th birthday. In the photo (click the thumbnail to the left), that's Kaller in front and to the right of "Lincoln," who looks quite sprightly for a man of 200.

This leads us to an exhibition in which Kaller is participating, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange at Federal Hall. Federal Hall is the place where George Washington took his oath of office, a most appropriate place for an exhibit featuring the other of America's two most notable presidents. You may think New York an odd place for a Lincoln exhibition, he being a Kentucky-born, Indiana raised, Illinois lawyer, who made his fame in Washington. However, it was in New York that Lincoln gave his famous Cooper Union Speech - "right makes might" - which many believe was the moment he, in effect, captured the Republican nomination, and with it, the presidency.

Featured at Federal Hall are numerous items Kaller, clients and friends have lent for the exhibit. Among them is a copy of Lincoln's most famous document, a signed Emancipation Proclamation. The Lincoln-Grimsley trunk, in which then President-Elect Lincoln placed many of his most prized possessions, to be held by Mary Todd Lincoln's cousin Elizabeth Grimsley in Springfield until their return from Washington, is on display. You will also see Lincoln's calipers, or "dividers," which he used to determine distances on maps for troop movements during the Civil War. These and many more Lincoln artifacts will be on display at Federal Hall through April 30.

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