Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2011 Issue

Important Signed Documents from The Raab Collection

Orville Wright letter on the cover of the latest Raab Collection catalogue.

The Raab Collection has issued Catalog 66, a collection of signed documents from important personalities, mostly American. They include leaders from politics, the military, arts, and other fields. Many contain important insights to the views of the people who created the documents. Among the items offered are documents emanating from the most important of American leaders, including Washington, Lincoln, and two Roosevelts. Additionally, there is a long section of documents of lesser significance or cut signatures of important, though not quite so monumental figures. Here, instead of Washington and Lincoln, you can find signatures of Tyler, Fillmore and Pierce. The Raab Collection always provides fascinating material, and detailed descriptions that place the items within their historical context. Here are a few.

 

That is a most interesting letter you see on the cover of this catalogue. It was written by Orville Wright, one half of the Wright Brothers, to Horace Lytle, owner of a Dayton advertising agency. Lytle, a sportsman, had evidently asked whether the flight of birds had influenced their design of airplanes. Orville Wright responds, to the most part, in the negative. He writes, "I can not think of any part bird flight had in the development of human flight excepting as an inspiration." Wright explains that he and his brother had studied birds for ideas, but never drew much from them, though after the fact they could see how some of the principles they discovered were also employed by birds. The letter was written in 1941, almost four decades after the brothers' famous flight. Item 9. Priced at $17,000.

 

It is not that well known, but at the outbreak of the Civil War, William Tecumseh Sherman was serving as superintendent of a military college in Louisiana that would later become Louisiana State University. Sherman was an Ohio native, but the Louisiana college had hired him as it wanted someone with a respected military background. In such a situation, you might expect Sherman to have divided loyalties as it became apparent that civil war was inevitable. Sherman suffered no such indecision. He was a Union man all they way and even then called for swift and decisive action against any attempts at secession. In a letter to General Graham, the president of the institution's board of trustees, dated "Christmas 1860," Sherman makes clear that the moment Louisiana secedes from the Union, he will "do no act, breath no words" hostile to the U.S. government. Instead, he will prepare for a successor to replace him at the school. Then, Sherman goes on to opine that President Buchanan made a "fatal mistake" by not reinforcing major Robert Anderson at Fort Moultrie (and nearby Fort Sumter) in Charleston, South Carolina, harbor. This is a telling remark as the Civil War would start a few months later when Confederates attacked Fort Sumter. In words more reminiscent of Presidents Jackson and Taylor, rather than the weak Buchanan, Sherman says the President should have sent 3,000 Union troops to Sumter, which would have held South Carolina in check until "reason could resume its sway." And, in words perhaps prescient of his later March to the Sea, Sherman says of Major Anderson, "Let them hurt a hair of his head in the execution of his duty, and I say Charleston must be blotted from existence." Perhaps if Sherman had been President, there would have been no Civil War, but as we know, Sherman did not want to be President. Sherman's letter is item 13. $17,000.

Rare Book Monthly

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    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
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    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
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    How History Unfolds on Paper:
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

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