Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2012 Issue

American Signed Documents from Joe Rubinfine

Rubinfine170

Letter from Charles Carroll on cover of Joe Rubinfine's latest catalogue.

Joe Rubinfine recently published his List 170. Rubinfine specializes in American historical autographs. Much of the material is entirely in hand, generally personal letters. Other items are partially filled-in forms, including stock certificates or photographs. These too contain personal signatures. Some are as familiar as John Hancock, Abe Lincoln and George Washington, others less familiar names who nonetheless played some notable role in American history. Like real estate, they won't be making any more of these autographs. None of these personalities is with us any more, their last signatures written years ago. Fortunately, Joe Rubinfine has gathered up a bunch made long ago, and they are available to collectors in the pages of this catalogue.

Item 29 comes from the man whose autograph is more famous than that of any other – John Hancock. In the days after the American colonies declared their independence, Hancock was serving as President of the Continental Congress. The revolution was off to less than a sterling beginning, and the Congress wished to see more support from the states. On October 2, 1776, Hancock sent around a letter to the states, noting that Congress was “at present deeply engaged in Matters of the utmost Importance to the Welfare of America,” and therefore it was “absolutely necessary that there should be a full representation of the several states as soon as possible.” Hancock goes on to cajole them to send sufficient representatives so that “the Sentiments of America be the better known upon the interesting Subjects that lie before them. I shall therefore only once more request your compliance with this Requisition of Congress...” It is not known to which state's officials this copy was sent. Some of these letters had an opening paragraph requesting physicians be appointed to the military, others, such as this one, did not. The reason is not clear. The letter concludes with Hancock's unmistakable signature. Priced at $22,500.

The most hated post-Revolution practice of the British, in American eyes, was the impressment of American seamen. The British would force seamen from American merchant ships, on the claim that they were British subjects, into the Royal Navy, on the spot. After a couple of decades, it finally was a major factor leading to war. Item 41 is a letter from Secretary of State (soon to be Supreme Court Chief Justice) John Marshall from January 1801. It includes proof that a couple of impressed Americans were American citizens. The British would relent and free a few American seamen on proof of citizenship from the government. The two nations would go to war in 1812, and while the British did not officially agree to stop the practice as part of the peace treaty in 1814, they discontinued the practice. $7,000.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was the last of a most illustrious group of Americans. When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was approved, Carroll became the last surviving signer of the Declaration. Carroll, a delegate from Maryland, was also the only Catholic signer. Item 9 is a letter signed by Carroll as the last living signer, it being dated July 16, 1826. In it, he accepts an invitation to ceremonies in Baltimore honoring the recently passed Jefferson and Adams, “to commemorate the veneration & respect so justly due to the memories of the illustrious Signers of the declaration of our Independence who bore so conspicuous a part in that great event.” Carroll lived until 1832, when he died at age 95. $20,000.

Item 45 is another letter from a last survivor. Rembrandt Peale was one of America's most noted early artists. He painted from the late 18th century to the mid-19th, a prolific artist noted primarily for his portraits. He painted many of America's leading figures, including the most notable of all, George Washington. His father, Charles Willson Peale, was also an artist and had painted Washington in 1787. His father introduced young Rembrandt to the American general at the time, leading to Rembrandt's opportunity to paint Washington too, in 1795 when he was just 17 years old. He would paint many more portraits of Washington over the years, using his own painting and those of others as models after his subject died. This letter was written by Peale in 1857 to an autograph seeker. By then Peale was the last man living who had painted Washington in person, and Peale acknowledges his position “as the Oldest Artist in America & the last surviving Painter of Washington...” Peale was 79 at the time, and lived to be 82. $1,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions