Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2012 Issue

American Revolution Era Signed Documents from Joe Rubinfine

Latest Rubinfine catalogue with letter from Washington to Franklin on the cover.

Joe Rubinfine recently released his List 171 of American Historical Autographs. This selection brings us back to the time of the American Revolution. They range from the days just before the Declaration of Independence, when a few of the colonies were already in open rebellion, to the early days of the new republic. Most signed documents fall into three categories: notable leaders, such as Washington, Hancock, Franklin and Adams; generals and other military leaders (and a few enlisted men); and signers of the Declaration of Independence (or Constitution). These are the patriots who earned America her independence the hard way, although, there are a few traitors in here as well, or people who were at one time on one side of the aisle, but ended up on the other. There is much in the way of important and collectible material to be found, such as these examples which follow.

We will start with a truly amazing piece of American history. It connects three of the greatest names from the American Revolution – Washington, Franklin, and Lafayette. It was written by George Washington on December 28, 1778, from Philadelphia, where he was meeting with Congress. He writes to Benjamin Franklin in Paris, who was serving as America's Minister to France. The letter is an introduction for Lafayette, still a young man of 22, but a trusted aide of Washington. With France now going to war with Britain, Lafayette wanted to serve his own country, but also wanted to round up more aid for America back home. “It is with pleasure that I embrace the opportunity of introducing to your personal acquaintance a Gentm whose merit cannot have left him unknown to you by reputation,” writes Washington. He notes that Lafayette's “Zeal, Military ardour & talents...have endeared him to America, and must recommend him to his Prince.” On a personal note, Washington adds that he wishes to “endulge my own feelings to add that I have a very particular friendship for him...” While in France, Lafayette would work with Franklin to obtain more aid and to send French forces headed by Rochambeau to assist the Americans, before returning himself to America for the successful conclusion of the war. It is unlikely any other foreign citizen has ever been as honored in America as Lafayette. Item 2. Priced at $250,000.

Lafayette was not the only person to cross the Atlantic to assist the Americans. Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, most often known as “Baron” von Steuben, was a Prussian military officer who came to America on a recommendation, this time the recommendation flowing from Franklin to Washington. Von Steuben volunteered his services to Washington at Valley Forge, where the latter's ragtag army was barely surviving the brutal winter. Von Steuben took on the task of training the Americans into a real army, teaching discipline and techniques unknown by Washington's volunteers. It must have been a trying time for both von Steuben, speaking little English, and his pupils, but with help from translators, along with young Alexander Hamilton and General Nathanael Greene, he turned the Americans into a serious fighting force. After the war, von Steuben remained in America, became a citizen, and was granted property and a pension for his services. One of his properties was in Herkimer County in upstate New York. On March 27, 1793, von Steuben wrote to Peter Smith, “As the season is now advancing in which I retire to your neighbourhood, I address myself to you to assist me in arranging the necessaries for my summer residence.” Von Steuben was 62 years old at this time and died the following year. Like Lafayette, the “Baron” is still a highly honored historic figure in America. Item 43. $1,500.

Taxes have never been beloved by the American public. We want the services; we just don't want to pay for them. Item 16 is a letter from one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Clymer of Pennsylvania, from 1787. He expresses the opinion that if more taxes are necessary, they cannot be raised in Pennsylvania. He explains, “I do not say that the people cannot bear greater burthens, but if they will not 'tis nearly the same thing, for they are an Ass that will not travel with a greater load than what he is pleased himself to take up....it is vain to beat or to reason with the animal.” $8,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: NOAILLES (ANNA DE). Les Climats. Paris, Société du Livre contemporain, 1924. €50,000 to €60,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    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
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.

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