Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2014 Issue

Written Documents from People You Know Offered by the Raab Collection


Catalog 77 from the Raab Collection.

The Raab Collection has published their Catalog 77. It presents 40 items, mostly written and signed documents, some of considerable length. These are all from people you know, many from politics, some from science and other endeavors. The great majority are Americans, but others such as Churchill, Darwin, Gandhi and Napoleon make an appearance. We will take a look at a few samples of these fascinating, often important documents.


We begin with a thank you letter from George Washington. It is the time and circumstances that make this “thank you” special. It was written in Philadelphia on December 30, 1778. The British had captured Philadelphia in the fall of the previous year, and Washington and his troops had to survive a brutal winter at Valley Forge. The situation was dire for the colonial army. However, come February, the Americans managed to sign an alliance with France, which promised to provide naval support. The threat of French warships entering the British stronghold of New York called for reinforcements, so in June, the British troops abandoned Philadelphia to return to New York. Washington pursued the British, and then set up headquarters at West Point, north of New York, where he could keep an eye on the enemy. Congress returned to Philadelphia, from which it earlier had fled, and in December, Washington made his first return. It was a triumphant return, and on December 29, the governing Magistrates of Philadelphia officially welcomed him with great praise. The next day, Washington responded to them with this letter. He thanks them for the honor, and notes, “...I sincerely hope that a persevering exercise of the same national virtues which have hereto frustrated the designs of the enemy will perpetuate to this city a full enjoyment of all the blessings which have been the objects of the present glorious and important contest.” Item 2. Priced at $120,000.


Washington wasn't the only general to appreciate the value of perseverance. General William T. Sherman credited it as the major factor in his victorious March to the Sea against the Confederate Army in 1864. Item 17 is a letter Sherman wrote to a friend from his days back in California before the Civil War. The friend was looking for advice on how to play a role in the war. The General provides some advice, but most interestingly, talks about the current state of the war. The letter is dated December 23, 1864, and Sherman's troops had just begun to enter Savannah the previous day, bringing his March to the Sea to a successful conclusion. This previously unknown letter may have been the first he wrote from Savannah. Sherman writes, “My own success in the war has resulted more from persevering through ill report and good report than from professional knowledge; and if my example be worth anything, it results from this truth.” Despite the victory and hasty retreat of the Confederates, Sherman adds, “I do not regard the war as over yet, by a good deal...” $14,000.


Back in the 1860's, Charles Darwin certainly appreciated all the support he could get. He had many supporters, but his theory of evolution was so disruptive to most people's world view that opposition ran high. In 1866, he received a letter from Robert MacLachlin, a young scientist, who had been studying insects. His studies led him to agree with some of Darwin's finding. Specifically, he found some could adapt to their environment, changing color and the like. It led MacLachlin to conclude that the previously accepted belief in the immutability of species was wrong. That, in turn, meant evolution was possible. On March 23, Darwin responded with this letter. He writes, “I have been very glad to see (whether or not you have been influenced by my writings) that you have given up to a great extent the belief in the immutability of species...” Darwin also offers some suggestions as to further experiments MacLachlin might try. Item 10. $22,000.


Item 20 is a typed letter signed by President John F. Kennedy on January 5, 1962. It was sent to the publisher of the Chicago American, a popular afternoon newspaper in the Windy City. Kennedy had briefly worked as a reporter at the American's predecessor in 1945. Kennedy offers his congratulations on the paper's new building. He then goes on to speak about the role of the press in a free society. Kennedy lauds the free press, but also notes its responsibility to the people. He believed that an “informed citizenry” was essential for a free country. He praises the American's role, and notes, “It is my hope that it will continue to disseminate information wisely and with full awareness of the responsibility and opportunity which it has.” What Kennedy couldn't have known was the dire situation that newspapers would soon face, particularly afternoon ones like the American. It may have been healthy enough to build a new plant in 1962, but by the end of the decade, it was changing its name and format, and in 1974, closed down for good. One can only wonder what Kennedy would think about people getting their news from biased cable “news” talkers or via Facebook. $13,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <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. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>

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