An Amazing Collection of Autographs<br>Offered by Catherine Barnes
Supreme Court collectors may also be interested in Item 74, a photograph of the Court as it was composed between 1962 and 1965. This was the height of the Warren court era, and it is signed by all nine justices, including Earl Warren, Hugo Black, and William O. Douglas. $3,000.
If you’re looking for the heaviest hitters of American history, here’s a letter from none other than George Washington. This letter, from 1782, concerns where to store gunpowder at West Point. He writes to Major Villefranche about the Major’s concerns over the proposed location for a magazine. General Washington asks for his reasons for requesting an alternate location. Evidently Villefranche’s reasons were sound, as the location for the magazine was changed, and a year later Washington would write Congress urging Villefranche’s promotion. Item 75. $25,000.
Then there’s some odd correspondence from Thomas Jefferson. In 1793, while Jefferson was briefly out of public life, he was approached by one Francois d’Ivernois about the idea of moving the Geneva (Switzerland) Academy (now the University of Geneva) to Virginia, U.S.A. The idea was to pick up the faculty and move them to new facilities to be built in Virginia. Crazy as it sounds, the plan was taken seriously and Jefferson was favorably inclined. In this letter, Jefferson writes to Wilson Cary Nicholas, his representative in the Virginia assembly, to gauge interest among his colleagues. Ultimately, the Virginia assembly turned the proposal down on the basis of costs and language barriers. Jefferson would later approach George Washington about the proposal, but Washington too would reject it. Today, the University of Geneva is still in Geneva, but Virginia has many fine universities of its own. Item 40. $25,000.
There’s a document here that’s different from anything the most dedicated of Andrew Jackson collectors possess. It is a patent signed by Jackson as president, also signed by his secretary of state and attorney general. The patent? It’s for a sausage cutting machine. Item 39. $3,000.
Item 36 is a letter from Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, to Robert Morris, another signer. Written in 1781, it speaks of desperate conditions in Virginia during the Revolutionary War. The patriots in Virginia were running out of supplies and Harrison feared they would soon be overrun. Fortunately, the tide soon turned. The revolutionaries would win the war, and Harrison’s son and great-grandson would both go on to be U.S. presidents. $15,000. Item 37 is a pay order from that son, William Henry, or “Old Tippecanoe,” while he was Governor of the Indiana territory in 1811. $1,750.