Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2008 Issue

Spectacular Signed Documents from the Raab Collection

Raab57

Catalog 57 from The Raab Collection.


By Michael Stillman

The Raab Collection has issued a spectacular new catalogue of historic manuscripts and other signed documents and autographs. While primarily American in origin, there are several British items, from names such as Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli and Queen Victoria, within the pages of Catalog 57. This is a catalogue filled with the most important names in American history, Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy and the like. While government and political leaders lead this pack, there are also important names from other fields, including Edison and Martin Luther King. Then there are the personalities who crossed over multiple fields, such as President and General U.S. Grant, or Benjamin Franklin, who did almost everything. Add to that people whose importance covered multiple nations, such as Gandhi for India and England, or King George III, a British ruler who was well known, though hardly beloved, in America.

What makes the Raab catalogue extraordinary, besides the quality of material offered, is the detail in the descriptions. Each item is not only explained in detail, buts its historic setting is also fully described. Recognizing the circumstances of a letter or document can be key to understanding its meaning and significance. Raab provides complete explanations of the documents' circumstances, giving us informative history lessons along with an opportunity to own a piece of that history. Here are some of the documents they are offering.

Item 6 touches on a major event in American and British history, and it is filled with irony. It is a note from King George III, requesting a meeting to hear greater details of Cornwallis' supposedly successful campaign in America. Cornwallis had technically won the Battle of Guilford Court House on March 15, 1781, but the victory came with major troop losses. Cornwallis, believing he had conquered the more southern states, next decided to turn his attention to Virginia. He hoped to once and for all seal off the southern states, allowing the British to defeat the rebels in the north. Instead, he suffered defeat at Yorktown, which effectively ended the war. However, based on early good news, King George, in calling for a more detailed report, wrote on June 4, 1781, "The letters from Ld Cornwallis show how well he has conducted his enterprise." Priced at $17,000.

Here is a remarkable piece of ephemera I never would have believed you could buy - Martin Van Buren's passport. Van Buren was America's eighth president, Andrew Jackson's handpicked successor. He was the survivor of Jackson's cabinet upheaval during the latter's first term in office. After Jackson's split with Vice-President John C. Calhoun, and a scandal involving the wife of his Secretary of War, Jackson called on his cabinet to resign. That included Van Buren, who was Secretary of State. Van Buren, despite being a favorite of Jackson, had to go to make the housecleaning appear even-handed. Therefore, Jackson instead promptly appointed Van Buren as his ambassador to Great Britain, an extremely important and prestigious position at the time. Item 15 is the very passport Van Buren took with him to England on his new assignment. It states that Van Buren is America's "Minister Plenipotentiary" to Britain, and is signed by his successor as Secretary of State, Edward Livingston, dated August 1, 1831. Ultimately, as a result of Calhoun's maneuvering, the Senate failed to approve Van Buren's appointment, but Jackson got the last laugh. He had his ally nominated by the Democratic Party for vice-president in 1832, replacing Calhoun on the ticket. Van Buren was elected vice-president in 1832, and then as president four years later. $2,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750

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