Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2008 Issue

Historic American Autographs from Joe Rubinfine

Rubinfine161

Historic autographs from Joe Rubinfine.


By Michael Stillman

Joe Rubinfine
has issued a new catalogue of American Historical Autographs. It includes the most famous of American names, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, along with numerous other figures from politics, the military, science and invention, business, and law. They range from simple signatures to detailed letters of historical importance. Here are a few of the 51 items available in List 161.

Item 43 is a significant letter from Theodore Roosevelt to friend and political reformer Louisa Lee Schuyler dated February 20, 1912. At the time, Roosevelt was considering a run against his successor and former ally President William Howard Taft. Schuyler was against such a course, but Roosevelt had become very disillusioned with Taft and already had decided to accept the Republican nomination if offered. Speaking of Taft, Roosevelt says, "He is a reactionary, not primarily by preference, but simply because he does not understand the great questions that are up, and has no real conviction on them. He was an admirable lieutenant, but as a general he is utterly incompetent." Roosevelt goes on to say Taft would "make the Republican Party a reactionary party," and in the ultimate comment of disrespect, "not a particle more useful to the country than the Whig Party under Millard Fillmore." Roosevelt was not nominated by the Republicans, ran as a third party candidate, and both he and Taft lost to Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Priced at $17,500.

Item 29 is a pair of letters which describe one of the greatest unnecessary tragedies of early American history, the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr which cost Hamilton his life. They are from Hamilton's friend and successor as Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr., to his wife. One is dated July 11, 1804, the day of the duel, while Hamilton still lived, the other July 13, after Hamilton died. Wolcott obviously despised dueling, and notes with irony that Hamilton did as well, despite succumbing to Burr's challenge. Wolcott notes that Hamilton believed "the custom was in the highest degree criminal, yet there were peculiar reasons which rendered it proper for him..." Wolcott continues, "This instance of the derangement of intellect of a great mind, on a simple point, has often been noticed as one of the most common yet unaccountable frailties of human nature." In this first letter, Wolcott also notes that Hamilton is unlikely to survive, that he did not attempt to shoot Burr, and that while his wife is now with him, she was "ignorant of the cause of his Illness" (that seems hard to believe). In his second letter, Wolcott again rails against dueling, marveling on how Hamilton calmly arranged his affairs in advance in case of a bad outcome, "Thus proving his respect for justice in comparatively small matters, & at the same time disregarding its obligations on points of the first importance." Hamilton's actions are all the more incomprehensible to Wolcott because the former deemed dueling "immoral & indefensible," and had earlier lost his own son to a duel. $40,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Rare JFK Signed Check & Transmittal Letter During Campaign for 1956 VP Nomination, Both BAS Slabbed; Possibly A Unique Combo!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> G.A. Custer ALS from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory to Capt. Yates, Who Also Died at Little Bighorn, Re: Acquiring “good horses” from Kentucky for 7th Cavalry.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions