Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2008 Issue

Signed Documents From Two Centuries of Important Leaders from The Raab Collection

Raab58

John Hancock's "John Hancock" graces the cover of the latest Raab catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

The Raab Collection just released Catalog 58, their latest collection of autographed documents. These are mostly from American signers, with a notable concentration of U.S. presidents. Not to be namedroppers, but those names include Jefferson, Madison, J.Q. Adams, Jackson, W.H. Harrison, Lincoln, Grant, both Roosevelts, Taft, Wilson, Coolidge, Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, L.B. Johnson, Reagan, and G.H.W. Bush. There's even a Benjamin Harrison, but not the one who was president. It's from his great-grandfather who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Non-Americans include Victor Hugo, Enrico Caruso, Lafayette and Scottish bacteriologist and discoverer of penicillin Alexander Fleming (just to prove the latter didn't know everything about good health, the inscribed photograph show Fleming holding a cigarette).

Along with the most thorough descriptions imaginable of these items, images, and an explanation of their historical setting, the catalogue discusses other matters important to collectors, such as the care of manuscripts and how the market prices them. Here are a few of the items being offered.

We'll start with item 1, pictured on the cover. There is no more famous American autograph than this one. The man's name has become synonymous with a signature. On February 7, 1777, John Hancock wrote to fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence Robert Morris concerning some money to be sent to two American officer prisoners of war. Early in the Revolution, American troops had been overrun by the British in New York with thousands taken prisoner. Their conditions were deplorable, and there was not a whole lot the cash-strapped patriots could do but provide a small amount of help. Hancock has signed the letter with his flourished signature, same as on the Declaration. Priced at $50,000.

The greatest non-American American hero must be the Marquis de Lafayette. A young Frenchman of noble upbringing, he traveled to America while still in his teens to join Washington and the patriots' cause. He fought and led his men bravely through several battles before returning to France to drum up support in that nation for the American cause. In 1779, he wrote from France to Dr. John Cochrane, George Washington's personal physician, nicknamed by Washington "Dr. Bones." Cochrane, on Washington's instruction, had treated Lafayette when the latter was wounded. Lafayette expresses his love for America, appreciation for "Dr. Bones," and his hope at returning to America soon. However, Lafayette is not all seriousness, as he closes with, "...whenever I meet with carousing, hollering, and drinking, I call again to my mind the happy days you have past in Boston..." Boston hasn't changed much in the past couple centuries. Item 2. $25,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…

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