Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2016 Issue

Signed Historical Americana from Joe Rubinfine

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Historical Americana.

Joe Rubinfine has published List 178 of American Historical Autographs. A few are simply autographs, a signature and little more, but most are found on letters and other documents. Often, they have a story to tell. The names are primarily important figures, such as U.S. presidents, military figures from either the Revolutionary or Civil War, or signers of the Declaration of Independence. It is filled with the signatures of people you know, not personally of course, and those you don't recognize will become familiar once you understand their historic role. Here are some examples of the items to be found, from the father of his country, to the leader who preserved his country, to others who played many roles in American history.

 

We start with a letter from Abraham Lincoln, only a few months into his presidency, dated August 22, 1861. In it, Lincoln, always helpful to friends, seeks a position for an old colleague from his days as a Whig Congressman in Illinois. The letter, sent to Secretary of War Simon Cameron, requests, "Victor B. Bell, now of Colorado, is one of my most valued friends; and one of the best, if not the very best Clerk I ever knew. I would like for him to be an Asst. Qr. Mr. [Quarter Master] or Com. of Sub. [Commissioner of Substance] of Volunteers. Can you not fix it for me?" Lincoln used the term "fix" for making something happen. Bell briefly served as a Whig representative in the Illinois legislature and this was not the first time Lincoln sought a government position for him. He made a recommendation for a clerk position for Bell when he was a congressman from Illinois in 1849. One would think a request like this from the President to a subordinate would certainly get Bell a job, but for whatever reason, such an appointment was not made by Cameron. Instead, Bell was sent home with an effusive letter of praise from the President and a request addressed to Illinois Governor Richard Yates that Bell be appointed to head some volunteer unit in the war with a position of captain. Ultimately, he was appointed to the 11th Illinois Infantry, but only at the rank of first lieutenant. Item 24. Priced at $24,000.

 

Lincoln won his first presidential election after the Democratic party split between northern and southern factions, the South finding nominee Stephen A. Douglas insufficiently slavish to their slavish demands. In prior elections, Democrats had won using the formula of nominating a "southern man with northern principles." Such a man was Franklin Pierce, who was elected President in 1852. However, the party denied Pierce renomination in 1856, his extreme "southern principles" making him unpopular in the North. Nonetheless, with the party on the brink of disintegration in 1860, some believed Pierce might be the most likely candidate to hold the party together, as he had in 1852. Pierce wasn't interested. Carroll Spence, a long-time Pierce supporter from Maryland, who had been rewarded with the ambassadorship to Turkey during Pierce's presidency, had inquired whether the former President might consider running again. The Democrats were about to convene in Baltimore for their disastrous convention at the time. Pierce responded to his old friend, "...with regard to the Convention, I hope for the best, but am not without deep solicitude. I thank you for the manner in which your friendship leads you to speak of me, but I would not under any circumstances permit my name to go before the Convention..." Item 28. $2,500.

 

Here is one of those autographs with nothing more. Actually, it is six autographs, clipped from what was likely a letter, since above the names it was written, "your obedient servants." This might not be that interesting except for who these people are. The names are Robert Morris, Josiah Bartlett, Philip Livingston, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas McKean, and Francis Lewis (who has signed it twice). If those names aren't instantly recognizable to all, they will be familiar to collectors of signers. All six also signed the Declaration of Independence (no, they weren't clipped from that document!). It was Lee who put forth the resolution in the Continental Congress on June 7, 1776, calling for freedom from British rule, which led to the Declaration of Independence less than a month later. Item 11. $1,500.

 

Item 40 is a sheet of paper with the strange, handwritten statement, "The Republican party wrecked by Garfield, saved by Guiteau's inspiration and Arthur's statesmanship." For those unsure of what Charles Guiteau's "inspiration" was, it was the assassination of President James Garfield. Guiteau met up with Garfield as he awaited a train, pulled out a gun and shot him. Guiteau had sought the office of consul to Paris, for which he was manifestly unqualified, but did not receive it. As a Republican, he presumed it was because he was part of the wrong faction of the party, and that once Chester Arthur became President, he would rectify the situation. Guiteau thought the country would praise him as a savior. He was very wrong. Arthur undoubtedly would not have been pleased with the compliment he was paid in this statement. To Charles Guiteau's eternal, quite literally, surprise, he was executed instead of praised. This signed statement from prison has a notation at the bottom from Warden John S. Crocker certifying that it was Guiteau himself who signed this document in his presence. $15,000.

 

Salmon P. Chase was one of the most important American figures in the movement to abolish slavery. Starting as a Whig in the early 1840's, he became a leader in the Liberty Party in Ohio, later in the Free Soil Party, and was a founder of the Republican Party. He was a lawyer noted for fighting the Fugitive Slave Act, defending escaped slaves. It earned him the moniker "Attorney General for Fugitive Slaves." He worked tirelessly for abolition, achieving numerous high offices – Governor of Ohio, Senator from Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Chase Bank was named in his honor. However, he was also an ambitious man, and the one office he most wanted – the presidency – eluded him. He sought the Republican nomination in 1860 but lost to Lincoln, who named him Secretary of the Treasury. From there he plotted taking the nomination from Lincoln in 1864, at times threatening to resign, finally accepted by Lincoln after he secured the 1864 nomination. Nonetheless, Lincoln appointed him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1868, he again sought the Republican nomination, though U.S. Grant was the overwhelming favorite, then tried for the Democratic nomination, again unsuccessful. He joined up with a breakaway Republican group in 1872, the Liberal Republicans, who combined with the Democrats in selecting a presidential nominee. To Chase's dismay, it again was not he. Chase died the following year. Item 26 is a letter from December 1867 from Chase to financier Jay Cooke, a wealthy man he had worked with to sell bonds that financed the Civil War. Chase says that he heard that Cooke had said Chase had no chance against Grant. Chase counters that many of his friends insisted the country needs a proven Republican civilian and have brought forward his name. Chase says he supposes Cooke concurs and therefore urges him to cooperate with his candidacy until the nomination itself, not appearances, are determined. Cooke would go on to support Chase for the Republican nomination, but to no avail. $2,000.

 

Joe Rubinfine may be reached at 321-455-1666 or Joerubinfine@mindspring.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> STEINBECK, John (1902-1968). <i>The Pastures of Heaven.</i> New York: Brewer, Warren & Putnam, 1932. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> FITZGERALD, F. Scott (1896-1940). <i>Tender is the Night.</i> New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> STOKER, Bram (1847-1912). <i>Dracula.</i> Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, 1897. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> GOLDING, William (1911-1993). <i>Lord of the Flies.</i> London: Faber and Faber, 1954. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> SALINGER, J. D. (1919-2010). The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HEMINGWAY, Ernest (1899-1961). <i>The Torrents of Spring.</i> New York: Scribner's, 1926. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HUXLEY, Aldous (1894-1963). <i>Brave New World.</i> London: Chatto & Windus, 1932. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> WELLS, H.G. <i>The Time Machine, an Invention.</i> New York: Henry Holt, 1895. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> DAHL, Roald (1916-1990). <i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.</i> New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HERBERT, Frank (1920-1986). Dune. Philadelphia: Chilton Books, 1965. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> KESEY, Ken (1935-2001). <i>One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.</i> New York: The Viking Press, 1962. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> VONNEGUT, Kurt, Jr. (1922-2007). <i>Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade.</i> New York: Seymour Lawrence Delacorte Press, 1969. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
    <center><b>California Virtual Book Fair<br>March 4-6, 2021<br>www.abaa.org/vbf</b>
  • <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Verlag, Luzern, Publishers: <i>The Book of Kells,</i> the most precious illuminated manuscript of the early Middle Ages, now reproduced, the FIRST AND ONLY COMPLETE FINE ART FACSIMILE EDITION. €5,000 to €6,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone,</i> 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1997, First Deluxe Edn., Signed by the Author on title page. €4,000 to €5,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Gilbert (John T.) Account of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, from the earliest extant specimens to A.D. 719. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> <i>The Georgian Society Records of Eighteenth-Century Domestic Architecture in Dublin [-Ireland],</i> 5 vols. lg. 4to D. 1909 - 1913. Limited Editions. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (W.B.) <i>The Poems of W.B. Yeats,</i> 2 vols., roy 8vo, L. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949, Limited Edn., No. 185 (of 375 copies). Signed. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Crone (John S.)ed. <i>The Irish Book Lover, A Monthly Review of Irish Literature and Bibliography.</i> Vol. I No 1 August 1909 - Vol. XXXII No. 6, September 1957. €1,250 to €2,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (John Butler) <i>An original self-portrait Sketch,</i> Signed and dated April 1919, N[ew] York. €1,200 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Photograph Album. Entitled ''A Souvenir of the Visit to Jeypore Samasthanam of His Excellency the Right Hon'ble Viscount Goschen of Hawkhurst… 14th December 1927''. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Pistolesi (Erasmo) <i>Il Vaticano,</i> 8vols. large atlas, folio Rome (Tipografia della Societa..) 1829. €500 to €600.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Chagall (Marc)illus., Legmarie (Jean) comp., <i>The Jerusalem Windows,</i> folio N.Y. (George Braziller) 1962. €400 to €500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Bullitt (Thos. W.) <i>My Life at Oxmoor,</i> Life on a Farm in Kentucky before the War. Roy 8vo Louisville, Kentucky, 1911. Privately Printed No. 86 of 100 Copies Only. €300 to €400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Popish Plot: Oates (Titus) <i>The Popes Whore House or The Merchandise of The Whore of Rome,</i> folio L. 1679. First Edn. €100 to €150.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Dorothea Lange, <i>Migrant Mother (horizontal),</i> silver print, 1936. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Group of 32 WWII-era identification badges for manufacturing & military-related companies, 1940-50s. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Julia Margaret Cameron, <i>Alfred, Lord Tennyson,</i> albumen print, 1869. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Arnold Genthe, <i>Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt,</i> silver print, circa 1908. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Edward Curtis, <I>Oasis in the Badlands,</I> toned platinum print, 1905. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Francis Frith, three volumes, approximately 140 photographs, 1860-70s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Eugène Atget, <i>20 Photographs,</i> gold-toned silver prints by Berenice Abbott, 1898-1927. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Neil Leifer, <i>Muhammad Ali,</i> chromogenic print, 1965. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b><br>A group of approximately 50 Photomatic selfies of the same man taken over a period of time, 1940s. Estimate $1,500 to $2,500.

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