Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2010 Issue

Signed American Documents from The Raab Collection

Ulysses S. Grant graces the cover of the latest Raab Collection catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

The Raab Collection has published their Catalog 63 of signed material. Most of the items are handwritten manuscripts, particularly the older material, though you will find an occasional book, photograph, or in the case of more recent pieces, typed documents. This is overwhelmingly American material, but with a couple of notable exceptions - Winston Churchill and Raoul Wallenberg. Perhaps they aren't exceptions after all, as Churchill and Wallenberg are among just seven persons to ever receive honorary American citizenship. Practically every individual who has signed his name on some document in this catalogue will be familiar to anyone with even a modest familiarity with American history (only a couple of Civil War generals were not immediately recognizable to this reviewer). Politics and government (including military) service are where most of these people made their names, but there are a few exceptions - Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Signatures range from the era of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin, to as recent as Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and William and Hillary Clinton.

George Washington called the members of the U.S. Senate to gather on March 4, 1793, as "Certain matters touching on the public good" needed to be deliberated that day. Actually, the day was far more significant than those dry words imply. This was the date of Washington's second inauguration. After a term dealing mainly with organizational and domestic issues, Washington was about to be thrown into issues of international intrigue, as he would try to steer his young and still weak nation on a path of neutrality and noninvolvement in the wars between European powers England and France. There was much pressure to support both sides in their conflicts, but Washington was intent on avoiding foreign entanglements, a wise course for a nation with such limited military resources. Item 1 is Washington's signed call to attend his inaugural, this one issued to Rhode Island Senator Theodore Foster. Raab has only been able to locate one other such notice in any collection. Priced at $62,000.

Sam Houston may be the most notable of all Texas leaders, but he was not always a Texan. In fact, when he wrote this letter on April 8, 1824, he was a Congressman from Tennessee. Houston had served under Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812, where he was wounded in action. Now in politics, he was a strong supporter of his mentor. In this letter to his cousin William Letcher, he proves to be a good prognosticator of elections. For the 1824 presidential contest, he predicts, "My own opinion is that General Jackson will be the man! If not him, Mr. Adams." In that four-way race, Jackson received the most votes, but not a majority, and in the House, Henry Clay threw his support to John Quincy Adams, who ultimately prevailed. Houston also talks of traveling north, apparently believing that could help his war wounds. "My wound is worse than it has been for eight years and on that account I wish to travel north." Item 6. $4,800.

At the time the Civil War broke out, there were five living former Presidents. They didn't provide Lincoln much support. John Tyler joined the Confederate Congress and Franklin Pierce's pro-Southern sympathies were barely disguised. James Buchanan, very sympathetic to southern interests during his presidency and doing nothing to stop the South's secession, did voice support for the Union but not for Lincoln, which was also true of Millard Fillmore. That left only Martin Van Buren as the one strongly pro-Union former president who also supported Lincoln's efforts. Item 11 is a November 28, 1861, letter, in which Van Buren writes, "...the attack upon our flag and the capture of Fort Sumter by the secessionists could be regarded in no other light than as the commencement of a treasonable attempt to overthrow the Federal Government by military force." He goes on to say, "I approved of the call which had been made by the President upon the loyal states for the necessary means to enable him to suppress the Rebellion..." $15,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    BROWSE NOW
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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