Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2008 Issue

American Historical Autographs from Joe Rubinfine

Rubinfine162

More American Historical Documents from Joe Rubinfine.


By Michael Stillman

Joe Rubinfine has released his List 162 of American Historical Autographs. While all of these documents contain autographs, only a few are simply signatures. Most are various sorts of documents, from simple signed printed forms to complete letters, to even an extensive collection of handwritten papers. In here you will find many of the nation's presidents, along with military leaders, signers of the Declaration of Independence, western heroes, Confederate leaders, presidential wives, and others. There is even a John Hancock. Presidents range from the great, such as Washington and Lincoln, to the not-so great, including Fillmore and Pierce. These are some of the signed documents offered in the latest Rubinfine catalogue.

Item 28 is a telling letter from the aforementioned Pierce, a president not only unpopular in his day, but one whose reputation has not been rehabilitated by time either. He was one of those "northern men with southern principles," so much so that he would become a southern sympathizer in the Civil War, despised in the North. However, this letter goes back to October 6, 1855, and in it, Pierce strenuously defends the Kansas-Nebraska Act, also despised in the North. It was the act which repealed the Missouri Compromise, opening the West to slavery based on popular choice. Writes Pierce, "...it is my firm conviction that the principles of the Kansas & Nebraska Bill, constitute the only ground upon which the slavery question can be placed and the Union of these states preserved..." Pierce believed this compromise with the South was the way to preserve the Union, but the anger it stirred had the opposite effect, especially after proslavery "ruffians" in Kansas tried to rig the elections to favor their side. This letter to former Congressman and previously defeated Pierce supporter J.J. Taylor of Owego, New York, comes with an earlier Pierce letter from 1854 on the same issue. Priced at $22,500.

Here is the better president: item 29 is an 1861 letter from Abraham Lincoln concerning Venerando Pulizzi, Jr., once briefly a soldier, who wished to reenlist at the start of the Civil War. Pulizzi had joined the military in 1855, but got into an altercation in Charleston a short time later. Pulizzi attributed the problem to his being too respectful of Blacks in this southern port, the locals to his actions being violent. Whatever the cause, Pulizzi was not likely to find friendly witnesses in Charleston, and the then Secretary of War who brought charges against him was not likely to be sympathetic either. The Secretary of War was Jefferson Davis, later President of the Confederacy. Pulizzi wisely resigned his commission, rather than face those odds. Considering the changes in the ensuing six years, it is not surprising that Lincoln recommended that Pulizzi now be reinstated. However, the second time was no charm for Pulizzi, who again resigned his commission a few months after being reinstated. $23,000.

Item 45 is a collection of letters and other documents from Lucretia Garfield, widow of President James Garfield. Most are from the first few weeks after the President died in 1881, and the letters reveal just how immense the loss was for Mrs. Garfield. She would soldier on for her family, but the grief and loss would stay for the remainder of her life. Almost a decade later, she wrote, "...days nor years can dull the memory of 'the cruel blow' nor lessen the pain of loss." Then, reflecting the great philosophical uncertainty of existence, she adds, "If we knew that somewhere in the great universe he still lives and that in the great Eternity sometime we should meet again...then our eyes could turn to the future's hope with gladness and rejoicing..." $17,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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