American Autographs From Joe Rubinfine
Here is a letter that will surprise anyone familiar with American presidents. It is a letter from Warren Harding to Calvin Coolidge addressed, "My dear Mr. President." Of course both were presidents, but Coolidge succeeded Harding when the latter died. Considering that Coolidge only became president on Harding's death, how could Harding have ever addressed him as "Mr. President?" The answer is Harding made lots of mistakes when he was president, and this was evidently one more. He should have placed a "vice" before "president" in his salutation. This October 1922 letter includes some obligatory pleasantries along with talk of upcoming political contests. Harding speaks confidently of the races, but the midterm 1922 elections were disastrous for the Republicans, with their incumbent governor in Harding's home state of Ohio being upset, despite the President's confidence. Item 44. $3,500.
Item 17 is the financial accounting books of Washington lawyer Francis Scott Key. Key, of course, is better known for his musical creation than his legal career, having penned "The Star Spangled Banner" after an evening in Baltimore. However, these accounting records from 1827-1831 don't indicate he received any royalties from this song that remains immensely popular almost two centuries later. However, there was a payment to one "Samuel Houston" in 1830. Two years later, Keyes would defend Houston in proceedings before the House of Representatives. Sam Houston, at the time a former Tennessee congressman, had caned Congressman William Stanbery on the street after a perceived insult. Houston was found guilty, but received only a reprimand and fine. He would, of course, later move to Texas. Key's accounting books are priced at $2,500.
From the Wild West comes this letter, from Dona Ana County, New Mexico, Sheriff Pat Garrett, to his wife back home in Uvalde, Texas. The date is March 22, 1896. Fifteen years earlier, while Garrett was Sheriff of Lincoln County, N.M., he had shot famed outlaw Billy the Kid. The Kid had escaped Garrett's custody while awaiting execution, but Sheriff Garrett tracked him down and shot him. It was an incident that would leave Garrett forever with both fame and notoriety. By 1896, he had been hired by Dona Ana in hopes of solving the murder of Albert Fountain (he didn't). In this letter Garrett informs his wife that his job is good, and that he will be coming to Uvalde by train to bring her back with him, but that they will leave their possessions in Texas until they are certain of their long range plans. Garrett spent the years after his famous killing in various law and other jobs, and in 1901 was appointed Customs Collector in El Paso by President Theodore Roosevelt (but was not reappointed five years later). In 1908, Garrett was murdered, possibly because of the land deal in which he was involved, or ulterior motives such as revenge, fear that he might yet solve the Fountain murder, or simply water rights on his ranch. One man was tried for his murder, but that individual was acquitted with the help of lawyer Albert Fall (who was also suspected of involvement in the Fountain murder years earlier). That's the same Albert Fall who would prove to be the aforementioned President Harding's biggest mistake; the Secretary of the Interior responsible for the Teapot Dome Scandal. Item 42 is Garrett's letter back home. $3,500.
There are dozens more intriguing documents to be found in Rubinfine's catalogue. You may find Joe Rubinfine in West Palm Beach, Florida; phone number 561-659-7077 or reach him by email at Joerubinfine@mindspring.com.