Extraordinary Autographs and Manuscripts from the 19th Century Shop
By Michael Stillman
Those familiar with the 19th Century Shop know that they offer extraordinarily important signed and manuscript material. Their recently issued catalogue 107 is no exception. The handwritten and signed items herein cover leaders in politics, science, arts and sports from the past few centuries. Here are just a few of the people who wrote or signed the material in this latest catalogue: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Millard Fillmore (how'd he get in here?), Winston Churchill, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Albert Camus, J.R. Tolkien, James Joyce, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, William Harvey, Babe Ruth, and the nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices of 1956 (these were the gentlemen who decided the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case desegregating schools). So much for the namedropping. Here are a few of the items the 19th Century Shop is offering, but you will need to contact them for a catalogue to learn about them all.
Where better to start than with the great emancipator and savior of his nation, Abraham Lincoln. In response to the President's call to the states for troops in the early days of the Civil War, Col. Richard Goodwin of New York raised a regiment of volunteers. He notified the President, who on June 25, 1861, wrote this letter to the Secretary of War. In it he informs the Secretary that he has no objection to accepting their service. Goodwin's recruits would become Company A of the New York 59th Infantry. The New York 59th would face Pickett's furious charge in the heart of the Battle of Gettysburg, helping to withstand the Confederates in the campaign which signaled the beginning of the end for the Rebellion. They would absorb casualties of 60% of their men, but their enormous sacrifices would prove critical to Lincoln's cause of saving the Union. This autographed letter is priced at $48,000.
For those who collect Revolutionary War era presidents, here are signed books from the libraries of the first three. There is The Adventures of Gil Blas from George Washington's library, with his "G Washington" on the title page. From John Adams there is the History of England by David Blume, with Adams' autograph also on the title page. For Thomas Jefferson, there is Montaigne's Les Essais... with Jefferson's characteristic "TJ" before the book's signature. This was one of the few books Jefferson retained in his personal collection after most of his library was transferred to the new Library of Congress. The price for all three is $100,000.