Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2012 Issue

American Revolution Era Signed Documents from Joe Rubinfine

Rubinfine 171

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

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <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.

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