David Schulson Autographs has released their Catalog 151 of signed material. The catalogue offers material from a wide range of notable personalities, from writers to artists, poets, musical composers, musicians, political leaders, actors, scientists, cartoonists, and others of note. Schulson catalogues regularly offer a mix of famous people from America and Europe. Many entries are full, handwritten letters, others briefer notes or signed documents. If your interest is in autographed material, you will likely find something you want here. These are just a few of the items being offered in this latest Schulson catalogue.
Item 24 is a letter (in French) dated March 24, 1813, from Napoleon to one of his generals. It provides great insight into how Napoleon managed his military campaigns. He was preparing for the German campaign, and Napoleon provides details on how various regiments should be moved around on the field. Normally, you would expect an overall strategy from a commander, particularly one who was also the political leader, but it is obvious that Napoleon micromanaged his campaigns, leaving nothing to chance, or to the discretion of others. He has signed the letter “NP.” Priced at $2,850.
Next is a man of whom we don't know if he was friendly with Napoleon, but was well acquainted with Mrs. Napoleon, the Empress Josephine. Indeed, he was a favorite of the distaff side of French royalty for a long time, first Marie Antoinette, then Empress Josephine, and later Maria Amelia, Queen during the rule of Louis Phillippe. Despite the changing of the guards, including the violent one during the French Revolution, Pierre-Joseph Redouté escaped any bad repercussions. He was not a political man. He was an artist. His specialty was painting roses and lilies, and two centuries later he is still regarded as the greatest artist at painting roses. His Les Roses is one of the most valuable of books you can purchase. Item 28 is a receipt from 1820 headed, Les Roses, par P.J. Redouté. In it, Redouté acknowledges payment in full for Les Roses from a subscriber, Mr. Pivote. He has signed the receipt “Redouté.” It is accompanied by an 1832 letter from the secretary of Queen Maria Amelia, stating, “The Queen asked me to let you know that she spoke with interest of your business with...the Count de Montalivet and that she obtained the promise that the payment you have been waiting for will be made as soon as possible...” The Count served as Minister of the Interior under Louis Phillippe, a position which, perhaps, didn't pay quite enough to keep the Minister current on his bills. $3,750.
Visual artists aren't the only ones who often found themselves in financial straits. Dylan Thomas spent much of his early career scrounging for money, though not always through collecting debts for work performed. Charitable contributions were one of his means of getting by. Thomas' work caught the eye of several poets when he began publishing in the 1930s, but that critical reputation did not quickly turn to commercial success. By the early 1940s, he was only earning very small fees for his writing. He was heavily indebted to friends when he turned to seeking financial support from established literary figures, nicely fitting the role of starving artist. Item 32 consists of several letters from 1940 that were sent to Sir Michael Sadler, a British historian and promoter of public education, who also championed Thomas' cause. One letter says that “unless he is able to raise £70 almost immediately his wife will be turned out.” Thomas was in debt at the time. Another reports, “we have received altogether £126.12.0 for Dylan Thomas. This sum ought to pay off all the debts and give him a bit of a start.” A letter from Thomas himself says, “It was a marvelous result, more than I dared hope, and I want very much to thank you for your generosity. People's kindness has changed everything...” Unfortunately, Thomas would spend far too much of his money on booze, and drank himself to death by the age of 39. $4,375.