Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2006 Issue

Famed Manuscripts and Autographs from The Raab Collection

Raab51

Queen Elizabeth document on the cover of Raab Collection catalogue 51.


By Michael Stillman

The Raab Collection
has just issued its 51st catalogue of autographs, manuscripts and other signed material. Raab items are always from the first tier of collecting. The signers are virtually all household names, and many of the documents relate to some important historical event. Most of the people represented are Americans, but then again, some are as un-American as, say, Queen Elizabeth. Yes, she is in here, as is Peter The Great, Winston Churchill, and David Ben-Gurion. This catalogue is a marvelous piece of history itself, filled with historical vignettes written in the letters of those who were important participants. Here are few of the documents you will find.

In September of 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated while attending the Pan American Exhibition in Buffalo. His killer was a deranged anarchist, but his action would lead another man of similar mental state to have a dream. In it, McKinley, lying in state, would rise from his coffin, point to Theodore Roosevelt as his murderer, and tell John Schrank to avenge his death. Schrank did not follow the request, but in 1912, as Roosevelt sought to regain the presidency on the "Bull Moose' ticket, McKinley would tap Schrank on the shoulder and again instruct the latter to avenge his death. This time, Schrank attempted to comply. He would meet up with Roosevelt on campaign in Wisconsin in mid-October. On his way to a rally, Roosevelt rose on the floorboard of his car to acknowledge the crowd. From a few feet away, Schrank aimed his gun at Roosevelt and fired. The bullet struck the former President in the chest, but not until passing through a thick, wadded prepared speech and a metal glasses case in his pocket. The paper and metal slowed the bullet enough to prevent the wound from being fatal. Roosevelt, being the bull moose he was, refused medical attention, insisting on going ahead and delivering his speech, despite the bullet lodged inside of him. He raised the copy of his speech in front of the crowd and showed where the bullet had passed through. Roosevelt spoke for an hour and a half before briefly visiting a Milwaukee hospital and then traveling to Chicago, where he was hospitalized for over a week. T.R. was a great man, but was as crazy as Schrank that day for not seeking immediate medical attention. Item 27 is page 6 of that very speech Roosevelt waved above the crowd that day, in fine shape except for the bullet hole which pierces it. Priced at $30,000.

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