Rare Book Monthly
Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2009 Issue
Autographs from Famed Leaders, Artists, Musicians, Writers and More from David Schulson Autographs
By Michael Stillman
David Schulson Autographs has issued Catalog 142 of exceptional autographs and signed documents. All types of notable people are represented here - political leaders, musicians, artists, writers, scientists, jurists, poets, even tyrants. Some signatures come on common documents, but others reveal great insights into the personality of the writer. Here are some of Schulson's latest autographs.
Item 12 is a most interesting document from the French Revolution. It is an order restoring to full "advantages" one Pierre Marie Maurice, formerly of the National Guard, dated September 7, 1792. Those advantages, it says, were "arbitrarily dismissed" in 1790 by Lafayette. The document includes an image celebrating the storming of the palace on August 10 of 1792, but also celebrates the constitutional monarch, Louis XVI. It is signed by Danton. The revolution was in full force after the storming of the palace. King Louis XVI was still recognized as a constitutional monarch, though that would end in a few more days. Five days earlier, Danton had stirred his followers into mob rampage including the massacre of opponents and various others they did not like. After four days of this, Danton signed this document restoring a man who was evidently an ally or someone with whom he sympathized. Danton would go on to support the complete removal of the King two weeks later and his execution in another four months. Meanwhile, Lafayette would be forced to flee France, where he was captured by enemy Austrian troops along the border and held prisoner for the next five years. He may have survived only because he was beloved by the United States. Danton himself would be a leader and rabble-rouser in the new government, but as the Reign of Terror became more terrible, he too would be struck down and marched off to the Guillotine in 1794. Priced at $4,500.
Item 24 is a letter from the aforementioned Lafayette to an unknown recipient, evidently a friend who was seeking some type of appointment. Lafayette explains he has already spoken to some people and will be making further efforts on the individual's behalf. The letter was written on August 4, 1823, the violent revolution long over and Lafayette safely back home and now serving in the Chamber of Deputies. The following year, Lafayette would embark on his final grand tour of America, his first visit since the days of the American Revolution, and then return to his role in the Chamber for the remainder of his life, always fighting for the rights of his people as he had done for the Americans. $2,250.
Item 43 is a brief note from a tyrannical leader on the cusp of his worst behavior. The year was 1933 when the Soviet Union put six engineers from Britain's Metro-Vickers on trial for spying and for attempting to sabotage a hydroelectric plant. It naturally caused quite a stir in England where many were still quite sympathetic to the Soviets and wanted to believe it was the workers' paradise Stalin would have them believe. Among those representing the British press at the trial was none other than a young reporter named Ian Fleming, and Arthur John Cummings of the News Chronicle. Cummings attempted to get an interview with Stalin while he was there, but Stalin was not into giving interviews other than in prearranged deals with unusually sympathetic reporters. So Stalin writes back that his "heavy burden" of work makes it impossible to grant Cummings' request, and then signs the note in red ink. This trial would be followed up two years later with the beginning of the more noted show trials where Stalin put just about all of the old guard from the revolution that he imagined might ever be a threat to him up for trial and execution. $1,450.