Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2006 Issue

American Historical Documents from Joe Rubinfine

Rlist156

That's Honest, Kind, Courageous, Great, Noble Abe on the cover of Joe Rubinfine's latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Joe Rubinfine
has issued his List 156 of American Historical Autographs, and there are some real gems in this one. There are some standard autographs of famous people, a few manuscripts from not as well-known people who took part in notable events, but then there are some documents from major personalities pertaining to important events. These, quite simply, are significant historical documents. We'll take a look at a few of these interesting documents within what is a most noteworthy collection of signed Americana.

Item 13 pertains to President Andrew Jackson's momentous change of cabinet officers in 1831. At the time, it was subject to debate whether the President even had such authority, a question which would arise again during the Reconstruction presidency of Andrew Johnson. However, Jackson never had to forcibly remove anyone. Jackson's original cabinet consisted of both his supporters and some of Vice-President John Calhoun. However, a rivalry developed between the Vice-President and Secretary of State Martin Van Buren, and as Calhoun turned toward support of nullification (allowing individual states to ignore federal laws), Jackson's support turned more and more to Van Buren.

When a social incident gave Jackson the opportunity to do away with Calhoun's supporters in his cabinet, he jumped at it. Most members of the Cabinet ostracized the apparently flirtatious wife of Secretary of War John Eaton. The result was Eaton and Van Buren, his only supporter in the Cabinet, resigned. This gave Jackson the opportunity to call on other cabinet members to resign as well. Item 13 is Jackson's resignation acceptance letter to Secretary of the Treasury Samuel Ingham, a Calhoun loyalist, dated April 20, 1831. In this very polite letter, Jackson alludes to the fact that his resignation was less than voluntary. Jackson explains that when Van Buren and Eaton resigned, he felt compelled to make a complete change in his cabinet. He states that "...to permit two, only, to retire would be to afford room for unjust misconceptions and malignant misrepresentations concerning the influence of their particular presence upon the conduct of public affairs -- justice to the individuals whose public spirit had impelled them to tender their resignations also required then, in my opinion, the decision which I have stated however painful to my own feelings, it became necessary that I should frankly make known to you my view of the whole subject." In other words, you have done nothing wrong, and it pains me grievously to get rid of you, but circumstances beyond my control require it. So goodbye. Jackson then concludes by telling Ingham what a wonderful job he had done, that he has "...my best wishes for your prosperity and happiness..." And with that, Jackson was rid of Calhoun's supporters from his cabinet. The following year, Calhoun was removed from the Democratic ticket and Van Buren was elected vice-president in his stead. $18,000.

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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions