Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2004 Issue

American Historical Autographs From Joseph Rubinfine

1204r8

American Historical Autographs from Joe Rubinfine.


By Michael Stillman

Joseph Rubinfine's
List 152 is described as a collection of American Historical Documents. These are documents running from the late 18th century to the early 20th, and the great majority are from names everyone knows. They range from the most collectible of American autographs, such as Washington and Lincoln, to those not quite so weighty, like Van Buren and both presidential Harrisons. This is certainly a worthy catalogue for those who collect important American autographs.

Item 22 is an interesting Washington letter as it comes from the in-between period, post Revolution but prior to his being elected president. So what was the father of his country doing then? Well, one thing he was doing was managing his farm. On August 22, 1785, he wrote a lengthy letter to Bataille Muse, who was Washington's agent for collecting rents. In it Washington speaks of the amount he is willing to pay for wheat, including a lengthy discussion of determining a fair price. In it, you see a glimpse of the principles which guided his actions. Washington is determined not to pay more than the market price being charged in Alexandria, taking care to note that a couple of bushels sold at a premium because someone was in a hurry does not constitute market value. On the other hand, Washington makes it clear he is not looking for any bargains either, just a fair price. Referring to the market price, Washington writes, "My prices are always governed by the Alexandria cash market - for I will neither give more, nor expect it for less." Priced at $35,000.

Item 19 is a letter you will never see from a politician today. Benjamin Franklin was just too honest. This is a cover letter for a recommendation for Dr. Thomas Ruston, along with an apology for oversleeping and missing him in the morning. States Franklin, "Excuse my not seeing you this morning, I was heavy to Sleep having taken a large Dose of Opium last Evening." No, that excuse would not fly in political circles today. This letter was written in 1789 and in the later stages of his life, Franklin used opium to relieve severe arthritic pain. $35,000.

General William Tecumseh Sherman is best remembered for two things: his "March to the Sea" through Georgia, and his steadfast refusal to run for president despite attempts to draft him for such a run. In 1884, he issued what has become known as the "Sherman Statement," the ultimate promise not to run. That statement has been slightly adjusted to "If nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve." However, Sherman's disdain for politics and unwillingness to be involved goes back much earlier than that. Here is a letter from 1868, 16 years prior to his famous declaration, to H.W. Slocum, who commanded Sherman's left wing in his "March to the Sea." Among his quotes are, "As to politics it is impossible for language to convey my distaste of them." And then there's, "I have seen Fear, Cowardice, treachery, villainy in all its shapes contort & twist mens judgment & actions, but none of them like Politics." Some things never change. And finally, "They have tried to rope me in more than once, but I have kept out and shall do so, as long as I can & then I hope I shall die before what little fame I have is lost and swept away...." Sherman would prove to be faithful to his ideals the remaining 20 years of his life, though he quite likely could have been president if he wanted. Item 1. $4,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Jean de Mandeville, <i>Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte Land,</i> Strassburg, 1488. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> José González Cabrera Bueno, <i>Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica,</i> Manila, 1734. Sold for $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. Sold for $65,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Louise Bourgeois, <i>He Disappeared Into Complete Silence,</i> portfolio with complete text & 9 engravings, 1947. Sold for $413,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Erich Maria Remarque, <i>All Quiet on the Western Front,</i> first American edition, Boston, 1929. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, gouache & watercolor illustration for Homer's <i>Odyssey,</i> 1924. Sold for $22,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Kurt Vonnegut, archive of 12 letters, signed to his family, 6 illustrated, 1930s-40s. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>Lady Windermere's Fan,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, London, 1893. Sold for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>St. Moritz,</i> 1918. Sold for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> R.J. Waters, 3 panoramas of the San Francisco earthquake & fire, 1906. Sold for $21,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Album with 200 cartes-de-visite, including images by Felice Beato, John Thompson & F.W. Sutton, Japan & China, 1863-69. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. Sold for $40,000.
  • <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>
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions