Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2012 Issue

American Signed Documents from Joe Rubinfine

Rubinfine170

Letter from Charles Carroll on cover of Joe Rubinfine's latest catalogue.

Joe Rubinfine recently published his List 170. Rubinfine specializes in American historical autographs. Much of the material is entirely in hand, generally personal letters. Other items are partially filled-in forms, including stock certificates or photographs. These too contain personal signatures. Some are as familiar as John Hancock, Abe Lincoln and George Washington, others less familiar names who nonetheless played some notable role in American history. Like real estate, they won't be making any more of these autographs. None of these personalities is with us any more, their last signatures written years ago. Fortunately, Joe Rubinfine has gathered up a bunch made long ago, and they are available to collectors in the pages of this catalogue.

Item 29 comes from the man whose autograph is more famous than that of any other – John Hancock. In the days after the American colonies declared their independence, Hancock was serving as President of the Continental Congress. The revolution was off to less than a sterling beginning, and the Congress wished to see more support from the states. On October 2, 1776, Hancock sent around a letter to the states, noting that Congress was “at present deeply engaged in Matters of the utmost Importance to the Welfare of America,” and therefore it was “absolutely necessary that there should be a full representation of the several states as soon as possible.” Hancock goes on to cajole them to send sufficient representatives so that “the Sentiments of America be the better known upon the interesting Subjects that lie before them. I shall therefore only once more request your compliance with this Requisition of Congress...” It is not known to which state's officials this copy was sent. Some of these letters had an opening paragraph requesting physicians be appointed to the military, others, such as this one, did not. The reason is not clear. The letter concludes with Hancock's unmistakable signature. Priced at $22,500.

The most hated post-Revolution practice of the British, in American eyes, was the impressment of American seamen. The British would force seamen from American merchant ships, on the claim that they were British subjects, into the Royal Navy, on the spot. After a couple of decades, it finally was a major factor leading to war. Item 41 is a letter from Secretary of State (soon to be Supreme Court Chief Justice) John Marshall from January 1801. It includes proof that a couple of impressed Americans were American citizens. The British would relent and free a few American seamen on proof of citizenship from the government. The two nations would go to war in 1812, and while the British did not officially agree to stop the practice as part of the peace treaty in 1814, they discontinued the practice. $7,000.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was the last of a most illustrious group of Americans. When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was approved, Carroll became the last surviving signer of the Declaration. Carroll, a delegate from Maryland, was also the only Catholic signer. Item 9 is a letter signed by Carroll as the last living signer, it being dated July 16, 1826. In it, he accepts an invitation to ceremonies in Baltimore honoring the recently passed Jefferson and Adams, “to commemorate the veneration & respect so justly due to the memories of the illustrious Signers of the declaration of our Independence who bore so conspicuous a part in that great event.” Carroll lived until 1832, when he died at age 95. $20,000.

Item 45 is another letter from a last survivor. Rembrandt Peale was one of America's most noted early artists. He painted from the late 18th century to the mid-19th, a prolific artist noted primarily for his portraits. He painted many of America's leading figures, including the most notable of all, George Washington. His father, Charles Willson Peale, was also an artist and had painted Washington in 1787. His father introduced young Rembrandt to the American general at the time, leading to Rembrandt's opportunity to paint Washington too, in 1795 when he was just 17 years old. He would paint many more portraits of Washington over the years, using his own painting and those of others as models after his subject died. This letter was written by Peale in 1857 to an autograph seeker. By then Peale was the last man living who had painted Washington in person, and Peale acknowledges his position “as the Oldest Artist in America & the last surviving Painter of Washington...” Peale was 79 at the time, and lived to be 82. $1,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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