- From the Publisher
- A Cup Half-Empty
- Who Were the Lincoln Life Guards?
- Kepi Controversy
- Primary Source Material: Manuscripts
- Overlooked Evidence: Lincoln in Pioneer Chicago
- “THE UNION Is DISSOLVED” The Charleston Mercury Broadside: Points of Authenticity and Variations
- Lincoln Letter Fraud on Ebay
- What He Really Thought of Lincoln: The Discovery of an Unpublished Letter by William F. Herndon
- The Sanitary Fair’s Gifts to President Lincoln
- Behind the Scenes At Federal Hall
- In The Marketplace
- LINCOLNPHILE (book reviews)
- The Annotated Lincoln
- Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies
- Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History
- “Lincoln” Hits the Screens
- We Have The War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861
- Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts and Context in the Civil War
- President James Buchanan and the Crisis of National Leadership
- Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln
- Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President.
- Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness.
- Letters to the Editor
- The Obvious Lincoln
- DeWitt Deaccession Debate
- Fake Lincoln Endorsement
- Historical inaccuracies found in CDV
- More on the Lincoln Avengers
- Cartoon Artist Identified
- Kepi Commentary
- An Item in Search of a Story
- Show & Tell
- Replicas For Sale
- Dueling Blogs
- Lincoln Artwork or Just Artwork?
- Devil with a Blue Dress On
- Breyer Model Horses
- Kudos on the new site!
- This daguerreotype looks like Lincoln, but is it Lincoln?
- What Is Lincoln’s Embalmer Worth?
- New Lincoln Stuff on the Market
- Rail Splinters
- Suspect Lincoln
- A Note from the Great Beyond
- ‘A. Lincoln’ Money Pit
- Added Cachet Value
- A Constant Flow of Fakes
- Problematic Copy Images
- Fraudulent Tintype
- If Only It Were Real!
- Rip-Off Ribbons
- Bogus Ballot
- “Ay, tear her tattered ensign down”
- Legit and Illegitimate Theater: The Ford’s Theatre Ticket
- Implausible Provenance
- Twice As [Not] Nice
- These Have Age, But Not Enough
- The Real and the Unreal
- Great Finds!
In the Marketplace: 2010
Cowan’s December sale was highlighted by a full-plate ambrotype of Millard Fillmore by Mathew Brady. According to the catalog, it was discovered several years ago at a Clarence, NY antique show, along with a hand-colored salt print of Fillmore by Root, also offered. The ambro sold for $16,450.
A 13” x 18” mounted albumen of Washington, DC, taken circa 1866 by Alexander Gardner from the rooftop of his studio at 511 Seventh Street, was apparently unpublished. It shows the Capitol on the horizon and the offices ofthe “National Intelligencer” newspaper. The catalog deduced that the image was taken in the Spring or Summer, on a late Sunday afternoon. It realized a strong $35,250.
A neo-classical mahogany chair made by Thomas Considine of New York, circa 1819, was used in the United States Senate by Hannibal Hamlin. We guess he was so attached to this item that it somehow went with him to Bangor after he left office. Consigned by direct descendants of Mr. H., it sold slightly below estimate for $17,625. At least it didn’t have one of those ubiquitous “From the library of Hannibal Hamlin” stamps!
A quarter plate ambrotype of three Wide Awake marchers from the Hartford area, all identified, was hotly contested. All three wore rain slickers, while two wore patent leather caps with brass eagle emblems attached. It managed $3,290. We can only imagine what it would have sold for had the fellows been carrying torches, lanterns or flags!
The sale included an additional 35 lots of items from the Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith estate. Some of the these items had signed letters of provenance attributing them to Mary Todd Lincoln. Others lack this documentation and were described as having “Descended directly in the Lincoln Family.” On the whole, the material did not command strong prices. We show a suite of four pieces of Meissen china that did belong to Mary Todd Lincoln which sold for a modest $2,115. Napkins, handkerchiefs and other knick-knacks went, like Mary, begging!
Rock Island Auction Company of Moline, IL specializes in militaria. They conducted a sale in December 2010 that featured a flag supposedly displayed at the Lincoln-Douglas Debates in Galesburg. The flag, we believe has been “floating” out there for some time, searching for a home. We will excerpt the catalog description: “Measuring 12 feet 6 inches x 20 feet 6 inches, this U.S. garrison flag was specifically crafted and presented at the Lincoln-Douglas Debate on October 7th, 1858 at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. Over a 150 years ago the east side of Old Main at Knox College was the site of a significant episode in American history: it served as the fifth of seven sites for the historic Lincoln-Douglas Debates… Galesburg drew the largest crowd of the seven road show debates that had caught national attention thanks in part to the telegraph. It was the telegraph that allowed newspapers across the country, both North and South, to print the spoken words of Lincoln and Douglas for national consumption. At times, the newspaper articles reflected more of the paper’s political viewpoints than the words of the speaker… During the historic Galesburg debate, this flag originally had 33 stars. The flag now has a total of 36 stars, 3 stars being added after the debate. The binding on the left has the manufacturer information: ‘GILBERT HUBBARD & CO / SAIL MAKERS / 205-207 [street address and city lightly printed and illegible].’ The flag is displayed in a 37 inch x 61 inch presentation case. Included is a copy of a postcard that once was attached to the flag (the actual postcard was stolen in 2000 and copies of the original were taken prior to the theft). The postcard is dated April 23, 1936 and handwritten on the card is the following: ‘Flag, Stars and Stripes made for this Lincoln and Douglas Debate at Knox College, Galesburg, IL.’ A notarized letter signed by the owner of Antique Corp of Galesburg, IL (Dr. Sam TerBeek) and an appraiser for Antique Corp (Duane Ziegler) states that this flag was flown at the Galesburg Lincoln-Douglas Debate, three stars were subsequently added after the debate, and is the only known garrison flag left from the Civil War era. A second notarized letter from George Leafgreen, a previous owner, also authenticates this flag. Leafgreen states that he acquired the flag when he was 31 years old in 1961. The aforementioned documents, along with a Galesburg newspaper article celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Galesburg debate, are laminated and presented in a 25 inch x 37 inch frame… Do not miss your chance to own a historic and significant piece of American history that would be the envy of any American presidential or military museum. Estimate $15,000-30,000.” We generally like to give items the benefit of the doubt and would love to believe this actually was made for the debate at Galesburg. Unfortunately, the provenance was extremely flimsy, in contrast to the flag which was in pretty good shape. Certainly a “debatable” item, it sold for the low end ot the estimate, $17,250.
Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas held a historical sale in November 2010. There was a fine assortment of Lincoln-related material which, it is hoped, will be a regular feature of future sales. The Heritage web site tells you how many bids there are on each item, how many potential bidders are tracking the item, and how many “page views” there are. Invariably, Lincoln material attracts the highest number of “page views”. A very rare Lincoln-Hamlin back-to-back 25 mm. ferrotype with blue porcelain insert sold for $2,050. It was issued for all four candidates, but this is only the second appearance of the Lincoln and the other example is in very poor condition.
An unusual Bell-Everett back-to-back 25 mm. ferrotype had a metallic “waffle” border. Collectors weren’t waffling on this one, as it went out the door for $1,300.
Yet another unusual campaign badge was a 22 mm. McClellan ferrotype. The frame resembled ivory and the reverse had a ferrotype not of Pendleton, but the slogan “The Constitution and the Union Forever”. Formerly in the Kenton Broyles Collection, it realized $2,875.
Another item from the Broyles Collection was a hand-painted “Death to Traitors” stickpin that was of Civil War vintage and may have been used in the election of 1864. One bidder paid $500 to dispatch his competition to the lower depths!
A fantastic anti-Lincoln CDV shows him dressed as a Roman soldier or gladiator. He is labeled a “Tool of Abolitionism” and swallows a soldier while exclaiming “I Want 500,000 More!” With such a voracious appetite, he would have been a sure winner at the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest! A collector with an appetite for great examples of negative campaigning and mud-slinging devoured this tasty tidbit for $950.
Finally, a circa 1860 CDV by J. J. Bardwell of Detroit, copied after the 1858 portrait of Lincoln by Pearson of McComb, Illimois realized the top price of the non-floor, internet only session, achieving $2,150. Heritage’s next historical sale is scheduled for April 2011.
Stack’s held a so-called Americana sale in October 2010. A “face essay proof” of an $100 legal tender note of 1874 was described as not listed in all the major reference works and “perhaps unique in private hands.” Estimated at $8,000-$10,000, it achieved $8,050.
The sale also included a group of fifteen gold Lincoln medals amassed by Louis E. Eliasburg, Sr., who managed to amass a “complete” collection of U. S. coins during his lifetime. Not to “nit pick”, but the collection did not include the 1864 campaign medal in gold (“The Crisis Demands His Re-election”) produced at the U. S. Mint. A large size 76 mm. Lincoln Indian Peace Medal in gold, weighing 7.5 ounces, was described as probably unique. Apparently, at the time of its creation, any collector could go to the Mint and have medals produced from existing dies, provided they supplied the material…in this case, gold. It was not produced with the intention of presentation to an Indian chief. Purchased by Eliasburg from Stack’s in 1945, it went to some wealthy “prospector” for $43,125.
Eliasburg also purchased a 1909 centennial medal by George T. Morgan from Stack’s the same year. Measuring 61 mm. across and weighing in at 5 ounces, it realized $16,100. in the current red hot gold market.
From the very same 1945 purchase came a 43 mm. x 32 mm. Lincoln plaquette by J. Henri Ripstra. It may be the only example produced in gold (it is marked “G1”) and this “old gold” sold for $10,925. This was truly a “golden opportunity” for collectors. And, given the provenance of these medals, we must philosophically note, “Stack’s giveth and Stack’s taketh away… Blessed be the name of Stack’s.”
Hake’s September 2010 sale had a few unusual items. An unusual 3 1/4” x 9 1/4” Lincoln mourning ribbon, wrapped in a sheer guaze, was a New York issue that failed to mention Lincoln by name, but the dating left no doubt as to its purpose. It managed a respectful $290.
A small relic stone, 2” square, removed from the U. S. Capitol, had an affixed albumen photo of Lincoln with appropriate memorial text, as well as a explanatory note affixed to the verso. No bidders felt amorous enough to “romance the stone” and it remained unsold with a $400 start bid.
Finally, a 2 1/2” x 8 1/2” Hartford Wide Awake ribbon issued in 1880 when former members rallied to support the Republican ticket went “meekly into the night” for $110.
Hake’s Americana held a sale in May 2010 that included a very unusual CDV of Jeff Davis and Abraham Lincoln pictured together on what appeared to be the embossed leather cover of an album or book. It hit the bestseller list, making a strong $960.
A group lot of 19th century reporter’s passes that sold at a recent Capitol area auction yielded a 3” x 3” manuscript scrap of paper that had “Admit the Bearer” with a signature below and a note on the back identifying it as a “Pass to trial of John Surratt July 1867.” After some “trial and error”, we were able to decipher the name. It is George P. Fisher, who happened to be the Presiding Judge at the trial. Good deal!!
Some eBay sales in June 2010 and beyond. A stereo view of “City Hall New York President Lincoln Lying in State April 1865” by an unknown photographer, was offered with a starting bid of $2,250. We picture a close-up, showing the vast crowds assembled on City Hall steps and the elaborate funereal decorations. It withered on the vine and did not sell.
Another stereo view – the Lincoln obsequies in San Francisco by C. E. Watkins – showed large crowds assembled on a hilltop overlooking a large funeral cortege. Lincoln did not leave his heart or anything else in San Francisco, but bay residents still felt obligated to go through the motions, even though the catafalque was likely unoccupied. It sold for $290.
The fourth earliest known photograph of Lincoln was an ambrotype taken in Urbana, IL in 1857. In 1884, W. H. Somers, who apparently had access to the original, made a copy image cabinet card. We’ve seen a similar copy image, a vignetted portrait, that sold a while back at auction for $2300. This example was the full image and made reasonable $850. It’s nicer to have the original, but where ‘ya gonna find one?
An Anthony/Brady CDV pictured a young black boy wearing a jaunty straw hat and holding what appeared to be some type of musical instrument. He was described on the verso as the “pet” of the 7th Regiment New York State Militia. This image of the beloved mascot drew intense competition before settling in for $1,400.
An item simply described as a “civil war pin” caught our eye. It was a 10mm. (7/16”) gilt brass uniface token suspended from a bar hanger. It appears to be a reduction of an 1860 Lincoln medal, but with the date changed from 1860 to 1863. Likely issued to commemorate the adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation and clearly a Lincoln related item, it sold for a modest $41. The question is… why did they make it so small? You really need a magnifying glass to make out the details. Designed, no doubt, for the demure Lincoln partisan who wanted to make an under-statement!
A tin and glass “Lincoln” parade lantern was offered with more qualifications and disclaimers than you could shake a stick at, or, in this case, a lantern pole. The seller claimed it came out of a Massachusetts estate and that family members traced its ownership back at least four generations (that works out to about one hundred years). So far, so good. The lantern and pole were definitely of the 1860 period. It had one plain glass panel, one complete panel with inscription in brown paint reading “Campaign of 1860”, a similar broken and incomplete panel, and a fourth, fragmented and incomplete panel that likely read “Lincoln & Hamlin” when complete. Three of the eight tabs that held these damaged panels in place were missing. Since the piece was obviously repainted at some time, it seems a DISTINCT possibility that the lettering was also added at that time (possibly for the 1909 centennial). The painting was done very sloppily and some of the paint ran down the glass panel, an indication the painting was performed while the glass was secured in place, with the lantern standing upright. One would think that, if original, the decoration would have been done before the glass panels were secured in place. It would be great if the piece was a bonafide campaign item from 1860, but there are too many discrepancies. The seller disclaimed any expertise in such items and made no warranties as to when the silver paint and lettering were applied. With an opening bid of $175, someone took a chance for $390.
A colorful stained glass window, with cracks and missing pieces, described as the central medallion of a larger work featuring Lincoln, sold most reasonably at $36. It likely dates from the turn of the 20th century and may have adorned a school or library.
A $10 bond note, issued by the Internal Improvement Office and signed by the Secretary of the Board of Public Works, depicts a locomotive and ships on the water. Dated September 1, 1840, City of Springfield, Illinois, it constitutes an interesting Lincoln-association piece. During his tenure as a legislator at the old state capital at Vandalia, inspired by Henry Clay, Lincoln lobbied hard and successfully for an internal improvements bill. The money raised by selling state bonds was supposed to be used for bridges, laying of railroad tracks and various projects related to river navigation. Well-intentioned, the Panic of 1837 stopped the flow of credit and put the kaibosh on Lincoln’s plans. The bill nearly bankrupted the state which was able to repay its indebtedness only after many years. The Internal Improvement Office issued these notes in various denominations with different vignettes. Three different varieties were offered by an Illinois vendor, but this one had the most interesting graphics and sold for $70.
An Ohio vendor offered three Ohio ballots for Buchanan, Fremont and Douglas (we picture close-up details of two examples). The Fremont was interesting on several levels. It contained slogans later used by Lincoln in 1860: “Liberty and Union” and “Freedom National – Slavery Sectional.” The prospects of Fremont’s election did not provoke threats of secession as occurred with Lincoln in 1860. Also, Caleb B. Smith (later Lincoln’s Secretary of the Interior) appears as a “Senatorial Elector”. There are also “Representative Electors” listed. We don’t know the difference between the two, nor do we know why Smith, an Indiana native, appears on this Ohio ballot. He was indeed a presidential elector that year, according to our sources. It sold for $125. The Douglas ballot had a fine portrait of the Democratic candidate beneath the slogan “Popular Sovereignty”. The “Will of the People – Vox Populi” was expressed with a winning bid of $315. By the way, the Buchanan ballot which we do not picture, had a buck’s head at the top and was, in our opinion, the least desirable of the three, in the poorest condition. We figured $150 retail tops, but it “buck’d” the trend, selling on a tie bid of an even $500. Go figure!! (another example was listed and sold a short time later for less bucks… $300)
A wooden plaque of Lincoln, done in the round, pictures the Great Emancipator perched above a scroll, a quill pen, broken chains, crossed cannons and flags. This, in turn, is affixed to a larger shield, all hand-painted. We have seen a similar piece affixed to a square piece of blond wood with block corners, as well as another example used as the pediment on top of a bookcase. It is extremely well-done, but, given the other examples, we are not sure if each one was hand-carved or molded. This colorful example, possibly dating from as early as 1863, saw intense competition before the dust settled at $3,737. It was nicely weathered with a fine craquelure, adding some additional character to that of the central figure himself.
A Lincoln Civil War dog tag with the inscribed name of a New Jersey soldier saw dogged competition and twenty-seven bids. It appeared to have been dug from a battlefield site, but had nice patina. It acheived a high bid of $1,925, but the reserve was not met and the bidders will have to fight other battles.
A Japanese-style accordion lantern inscribed “Union” on one side with an eagle on the other was attributed to the 1864 election and Lincoln. These kind of lanterns were used in political campaigns from 1860 to 1880 but, believe it or not, we recently saw one for Adolf Hitler (with portrait, flag and slogans) issued in 1932 during his campaign for German chancellor! The Lincoln version saw “heated” bidding before being extinguished at $560.
One vendor sold three Lincoln sibling CDVs over a two-week period. A Brady portrait of Tad in a military uniform made muster at $2,260. A vignetted portrait of Tad, made by Henry Warren of Boston, was a more affordable $765. It was likely taken on the same day that Warren photographed the President, March 5, 1865. Tad worked in collusion with the photographer and ambushed his father into being photographed. The last of the trio, a standing portrait of Robert Todd Lincoln by Brady made a strong $2,125. So, while the market for CDVs is down, Lincoln’s sons are holding the fort!
A large size mounted albumen of Lincoln (the Berger pose taken February 9, 1864, O-91) was offered by a New York State photo-specialist with an opening bid of $3,500. The photo measured 9 1/4” x 12 1/2”, but was unmarked, save for a revenue stamp on the reverse. The condition was superb with great tonality and detail. A very handsome, period piece which, nevertheless, could not command the opening bid.
A real photo postcard of an unpublished Stephen Douglas broadside from 1860, publicizing his campaign visit to his hometown of Brandon, VT “in search of his mother”, sold for just $12 on eBay. This was part of a personal “side trip” that Douglas made which morphed into a series of campaign speeches, becoming the target of Republican ridicule. We don’t know if the broadside still exists and, if so, where.
Joe Levine of Presidential Coin (“Medalsman”) sold a 41 mm. white metal medal issued by the Brooklyn War Fund Committee for $106. Silver versions of this medal were awarded to Kings County soldiers who distinguished themselves in battle. The dies were cut by F. B. Smith who, in 1864, issued several election medals including a 34 mm. McClellan piece with the same eagle design, but different wording.
Wes Cowan held an American History and Civil War sale in June 2010 and a second in December. The first sale included twenty-four lots with a Lincoln Family connection. According to the catalog, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, a.k.a. “Bud” Beckwith, a great-grandson of the 16th president, discovered a cache of material in a trunk at Hildene. Supposedly, the trunk and many of the items in the trunk belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln. Some of the items had tags indicating ownership, while others were attributed solely on the basis of family tradition and oral history. Bud’s sister, Mary (“Peggy”), lived as a recluse at Hildene and never married. Bud married three times, but never sired any children, thus ending the direct line of Abraham Lincoln. He donated many Lincoln items to various museums, but these pieces descended to a daughter of Beckwith’s third wife. That daughter passed away in 2009. Many of the pieces belonged to Lincoln family members other than Mary Todd. Plus, it is quite possibly that Beckwith donated the pieces with solid provenance directed related to Abraham Lincoln and retained these association pieces.
A Lincoln autographed CDV (O-87) had some condition issues, but still managed $38,775.
A January 1859 check completed and signed by Lincoln apparently was a donation of $12.50 to “Ills. College”. It made $9,400.
A porcelain egg-cup from the Solferino or Royal Purple service ordered by Mrs. Lincoln from Haughout’s Department Store on Broadway & Broome in Manhattan cracked $20,560.The service was reordered by Presidents Johnson, Grant and Arthur, but this example was likely used in the Lincoln White House.
A Swiss gold pocket watch with chain was likely the property of Mary Harlan Lincoln as it has the engraved name of Jack on the cartouche. Jack was the nickname of her son, Abraham Lincoln II, who died at age of blood poisoning following the removal of a skin lesion. It chimed in at $3,400.
Finally, a collection of documents related to Mary Todd Lincoln’s commitment to the Bellevue Place Sanitarium in Batavia, Illinois in 1875 rounded out the sale. It included the “arrest warrant” for Mary, the court papers certifying her as insane, the asylum register signed by Mary and some peripheral bits of ephemera related to the staff and facilities. Bidders went “nuts” over this lot and it flew over the cuckoo’s nest, realizing $37,600.
Rich Penn Auctions of Waterloo, IA held an advertising auction in May 2010 that contained a large collection of Theodore Roosevelt items. When you mention TR, Lincoln naturally comes to mind. The sale included some bookends and plaques which we won’t dwell on. A 17” x 42” felt pennant inscribed “United States” was a moth-bitten relic of the World War One period. It had a particularly homely portrait of Lincoln applied to the left end. Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder or, in this case, collector, and the item managed $210. We hope they bought it for the long term… the very long term.
Freeman’s had a sale in April 2010 that included two unusual Lincoln artworks. One lot included two plaster busts: one of Washington and another of Lincoln, measuring a “zaftig” 26” tall and inscribed “Abraham Lincoln modeled by H. Manger Patented August 1865”. $2,050 for the pair. A 25 x 30” oil on canvas of Lincoln, unsigned and undated, but described as 19th century, was less appreciated, selling for $700. In November 2010, they had a from-life paintiing (with scattered paint loss) of Lincoln. We will excerpt the catalog description: “Joseph Alexander Ames (1816-1877), portrait of Abraham Lincoln, unsigned, oil on canvas, framed, 29 1/4 x 24 1/4 (sight). [Provenance]: Accompanying portrait is a portfolio entitled ‘Documents certifying the genuineness of original sketch Abraham Lincoln painted by Joseph Ames.’ Included in this portfolio is an affidavit from William J. Barry, Boston, Massacchusetts, detailing the 1910 gift of the portrait to him from John W. Bruty, who was willed the portrait by E. Phillip Rinn, a Boston, architect and friend of the Ames’, who was willed the portrait by Ames’ estate. Also included is a note from William Lambert to William Barry, dated 1910, a typed letter from Ida Tarbell of the American Magazine, dated January 12, 1910, and another letter from January 1, 1920, from Horace R. Burdick, ’This is to certify that to the best of my knowledge and belief the portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the possession of and owned by William J. Barry, Esq. of Boston is the original sketch made by Mr. Ames after seeing and talking with President Lincoln & from which he painted the full length portrait of Lincoln now in Faneuil Hall & the Chamber of Commerce. This opinion is based upon a personal acquaintance of several years with Mr. Ames when he was doing his best work and when he & I occupied studios at 12 West Street, during which time I saw & talked with him frequently & saw this sketch in his possession & heard it referred to as his original study of Lincoln’s head. Horace R. Burdick, 16 Park Ave., Malden.” Also included is a bill of sale of the portrait from John Bruty to William Barry, dated November 19th 1909, and a photocopy of bill of sale from Leggatt Brothers, London, dated 25th January 1956. Another version of this portrait hangs in the library of Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate.” We were unable to find the Ames Faneuil Hall portrait referred to in the description; however, Christie’s sold a 3/4 length portrait, matching this study, in 2009 for $32,500. Ames was supoosedly an admirer of Lincoln and painted several from-life portraits. His wife, Sarah Fisher Ames, a noted sculptress, worked in a Washington, D.C. hospital during the Civil War where she met Lincoln. She produced several busts of the President based on their meetings. Ames’ brother invented the escalator, so his family was definitely on the creative side. Estimated $20,000-30,000, the portrait that “Ames” to please went unsold.
Pook & Pook of Downingtown, PA held a sale in April 2010 that contained an interesting wall plaque with “cameo” images of George Washington, President Lincoln, Secretary of State Seward and six Union generals. The portraits were composed of “gilt tin” and arranged against a dark background within an oval mahagony frame. Dating from around 1862, measuring 19 1/2” x 18”, it realized $1,000.
Robert Siegel stamp auctions of New York offered a Mary Todd Lincoln free franked envelope in their April 2010 sale. Postmarked from Chicago and addressed in her hand to David Davis, the executor of the Lincoln estate, it realized $4,890. The contents were missing, but we can assume they dealt with Mary’s attempts to obtain a pension from the government or sell off assets.
Mary and Tad went to Chicago in May 1865 and stayed there until leaving for Europe in 1868. A month later, they held another sale comprising the “Steven C. Walske Collection of Special Mail Routes of the American Civil War.” This comprehensive collection was a window into this most tumultuous period and covered all phases of the conflict. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, mail flowed in both directions with reciprocity of postage (southern states using both northern and CSA postage) and accepting northern letters with non-CSA stamps. On May 27, 1861, the Federal government halted postal service to the Confederate states, with Europe following a similar policy shortly thereafter. From then on, letters from the South had to be handled by private carriers, sent via blockade runners or carried under “flag of truce” (this being the case with prisoner of war letters). In many cases, the letters were returned to sender. A Jefferson Davis cover, originally contained a letter from B. F. Hempstead, a lawyer and slave owner, to the editors of the New York Observer. It was postmarked on May 14, 1861 from Washington, Arkansas, during a brief twelve-day window in which Arkansas was an independent state, prior to joining the Confederacy. $10,925.
On July 6, 1861, James H. Gatling mailed a letter to his brother Richard J. Gatling in Indianapolis. Richard was the inventor of the Gatling Gun and went to Indianapolis to establish a business there to sell the gun he hoped would reduce the number of soldiers required to fight wars, thereby reducing casualties from wounds and disease (NOT!!) The letter went from Murfreesborough, NC to Nashville to Louisville, where it was marked “Southn. Letter Unpaid” and assessed 3-cents. Someone apparently paid ten-cents and the letter was delivered. James was also an inventor and built a hand-cranked airplane which he launched off the roof of his gin mill in 1873 before crashing into an elm tree. He made no further attempts at flight, although North Carolina would eventually see the first successful flight by the Wright Brothers. $29,900.
Someone tried to send a letter from Philadelphia on November 22, 1861 to Glasgow, Kentucky. Even though Kentucky was not admitted to the CSA until December 10th, Federal authorities still barred mail going to that region. The letter was halted at Louisville, stamped “Mails Suspended”, placed in a “Dead Letter Office” envelope and returned to sender. The pair of covers, ideal for display or exhibition, sold for $9,775.
Finally, a letter sent from New Philadelphia, OH to a Union P.O.W. at Andersonville, GA, marked “Via Fortress Monroe via Flag of Truce Boat.” Typically, these letters were routed through Richmond, examined by government censors, and sent by military couriers to their final destinations. Accordingly, none have Confederate postage affixed. $3,220.
Jeff Pearson Antiques of North Stonington, CT (on the Rhode Island border) held an estate sale in late January 2010 in Pawcatuck. It contained baseball cards, weapons, advertising and Civil War material. A large 46-star flag made for a reunion of the 54th Regiment (state unknown) had an applied portrait on cotton of Lincoln, along with a stamped image of a GAR badge in one corner and printed lettering above and below the image. It sold for $385.
A small paperwright with Lincoln’s portrait, issued for an 1894 GAR encampment, also was offered. These two items, along with a group of Civil War letters and sword, may have all belonged to a single Union veteran. It realized $50.
Alexander Autographs held an auction in January 2010. A 4 x 6” invitation to a “Public Reception and Barbecue” on May 1, 1857 honoring Col. Jefferson Davis in Vicksburg, MS was a dainty morsel that someone got a good deal on for $120.
A manuscript letter dated May 13, 1861 documents the results of an election held by the Townsville Guards of Garysburg, NC to select three delegates to go to the upcoming North Carolina secession convention at Raleigh. When you send members of the military to such a meeting, it seems the result was a foregone conclusion. No surprise… North Carolina seceded from the Union a week later and the war continued (“Suppose they gave a war and no one seceded?”) $360.
Another document from 1861, Department of Pennsylvania, Martinsburg, VA, promulgates an order prohibiting clothing Negroes in Union uniforms, labeling it a “degradation.” We assume that some Union soldiers decided it would be appropriate for their orderlies and servants to appear in that manner. They didn’t reckon with “push back” from those who were afraid of a new idea… black soldiers. $1,075.
A plaster life mask of Abraham Lincoln by Clark Mills, with applied bronze finish, was represented as a first state, one of five producedby the sculptor in 1865. He gave one to John Hay, whose grandson sold it at auction, saying it was his recollection that Mills produced five copies. The earlier copies are distinguished by the fine detail of the hair, skin and pores. Noted dealer King V. Hostick owned two examples, including this one. One “orirginal” is housed in the Smithsonian. The mask owned by John Hay was sold at the Ostendorf Sale for $93,250. Another copy lacking that regal provenance crossed the block a couple years later for $35,000. This one only managed $10,755. Has the Clark Mills life mask bubble burst?
Finally, a pair of relics from the assassination, ex: Dr. John Lattimer Sale, were offered. They were a piece of lace curtain and a section of the flocked wallpaper from the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre. Give me “two on the aisle” for $3,880.
Swann’s hosted several auctions with interesting Lincolniana in 2010. An Abraham Lincoln ALS, July 16, 1864, was directed towards his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. It read, in full: “Please order an investigation of Surgeon John Higgins case to be made at once. He is in Carroll Prison – I do this because of my intimate personal acquaintance with and high esteem for his brother, Judge Van H. Higgins.” This letter is illuminating on several levels. It shows that Lincoln felt obligated to explain his interference and involvement to Stanton; it deals with civilians incarcerated for disloyalty; and it shows how personal relationships with the President could be used to instigate desired actions within the government bureaucracy. $22,800. A copy of a book published in 1859 by James McClees contained 293 salted paper prints of members of Congress. It is titled McClees’ Gallery of Photographic Portraits of the Senators, Representatives & Delegates of the Thirty-Fifth Congress. The photographs are not mounted, but printed on individual leaves with facsimile signatures. The first book of this type was published in 1853, but this is perhaps the most lavishly illustrated example from before the Civil War. James McClees was a Philadelphia photographer with a satellite studio in Washington. His assistant there, Julian Vannerson, would operate a studio of his own in Richmond during the War. Nineteen Congressmen are represented with only facsimile signatures, but 292 are pictured, including: Stephen Douglas, Hannibal Hamlin, Sam Houston, William Seward, Charles Sumner and Alexander Stephens. It sold for $15,600.
NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE RAIL SPLITTER PRESS:
Book Review Archive
- Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War.
- The Dark Intrigue: The True Story of a Civil War Conspiracy.
- President Lincoln: the Duty of a Statesman.
- Lincoln’s Men: The President and His Private Secretaries.
- The Lincoln’s: Portrait of a Marriage.
- The Madness of Mary Lincoln.
- Lincoln the Inventor.
- Lincoln and New York.
Rail Splinters Archive
- Stereo view photographs of Abraham Lincoln statue damaged in 1906 San Francisco earthquake
- Lincoln in Film
- John Wilkes Booth? Probably not.
- Answer to the question “Whatever became of the Gillett collection?”
- What happened to the Gillette Collection?
- This Train is Bound for Glory
- Lincoln Ballots 1834-1864
- Lincoln Museum in Boise
- Lincoln at the Abolition Ball
- Where East Meets West
- A Prince of a Guy
- In Memoriam: C. Peter Scanlan
- Portrait of Lincoln Legal Associate Unearthed
- Thomas T. Eckert Archive: Telegraphic History of the Civil War
- Beethoven’s medium channels news of Lincoln’s Death by composing “The Funeral March”
- Where is Mary Todd Lincoln’s 1861 Inaugural Ball dress?
- The Meatball does The Sauceman (and The Rail Splitter) proud
- Lincoln “apparently not” a sexist
- Campaign woodcuts in illustrated magazines, symbolism or adornment?
- 1890 Wide-Awake Reunion program
- Baltimore Coin & Currency Convention Highlights
Past Print Issues