Item 14 is a letter from John Burroughs, one of America's most noted conservationists and writers, dated June 11, 1914. It was written to Madeline Edison, Thomas Edison's daughter, evidently in response to a wedding invitation. Burroughs was unable to attend. "I wish I were to attend your wedding and see that lucky young man carry off such a prize. But I shall have to deny myself." Burroughs was a friend of Miss Edison's inventor father. A few years later, Burroughs and Edison, along with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone would take a road trip through the Appalachian Mountains, the conservationist Burroughs seemingly an odd fit with the three industrialists, but they were all great friends. Madeline probably appreciated this kind note from her father's friend since her parents were less than pleased with her marrying John Eyre Sloan, not the industrialist they preferred and a Catholic to boot. Still, of Edison's six children, all four of his grandchildren were the offspring of John and Madeline Sloan. Sale priced at $225.
You might expect something edgy in the writing of General George Patton. He was not a man of reserved emotions or speech. Nonetheless, what we have here is a paper Patton wrote about the Sargasso Sea, that dead area in the North Atlantic Ocean, home to a lot of seaweed but not much else. Surrounding ocean currents keep this area relatively motionless. Writes Patton, "The Sargasso Sea is one of the unexplored mysteries of the world. Though discovered as soon as North America no one has ever yet explained its unfathomable depths for the weed is so thick that niether [sic] stream nor sail can find its way to the center..." Patton can be forgiven the spelling mistakes, and the un-Pattonlike flatness of the essay. "Old Blood and Guts" was just 13 years old, writing an essay for school at the time (1899). His teacher has kindly corrected some of his mistakes. $2,310.
Item 38 displays some of the early difficulties Charles Guiteau was experiencing in life. In 1868, when he wrote this letter to his brother-in-law, Guiteau was suffering from financial difficulties. His advertising business was not going well. Guiteau attempted to get some money from the Oneida Community, for spreading God's message on their behalf in earlier years, but the Community declined his entreaties. Even by this time members of the community saw Guiteau as something of a nutcase. After describing his financial problems, Guiteau continues, "I should be glad to continue my law studies in your office. I had rather study with you than any one else." Guiteau would then move to Chicago and obtain a law license, but did not do well as a lawyer. He would return to religion and then move on to politics. He wrote and gave a speech supporting the candidacy of James Garfield for President, and when Garfield won, he believed he was largely responsible. Guiteau figured he deserved an ambassadorship or some such office in return, but none was forthcoming. Spurned by the President and his cabinet, Guiteau assassinated President Garfield on July 2, 1881. A year later, he was hanged for his crime. $1,200.
Item 6 is something of a surprising signed quotation from Maximilian Berlitz, the turn of the century language teacher who founded the very successful Berlitz language schools. One would expect an educator to focus on the value of education, but it sounds like Mr. Berlitz believed it was useless to educate people without strong native intelligence. He writes, "Education is a very poor substitute for intelligence. An educated donkey is still a donkey. The promiscuous [sic] over education of the masses has done more harm than good, making turbulent parasites out of elements that would have been useful laborers and farmers." He does have something of a point there, though I would still argue that an educated donkey is better than a dumb ass. $1,470.
David Schulson Autographs may be reached at 973-379-3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.schulsonautographs.com.