- From the Publisher
- Ford’s Theatre Ticket Voucher
- 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- What He Really Thought of Lincoln: The Discovery of an Unpublished Letter by William F. Herndon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
- Amateur Historians
- A Worthless Ribbon and a Worthless C.O.A.
- 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: 2014
Heritage Auctions in Dallas held a Civil War sale on December 12th that contained many items of interest. A CDV of Ward Hill Lamon, likely taken when he was saving as Marshal of the District of Columbia, signed by him on the verso, sold for $1,875.
A standing CDV portrait of Robert Todd Lincoln of similar vintage with identification in an unknown hand came close at $1,625.
A CDV of Lincoln and McClellan at Antietam, O-65 with Brady label on verso, realized $2,500. Ostendorf mentions that this photograph was taken with a stereoscopic camera for use in stereo views. This example was a CDV and it contained a great more of the background than the one pictured in Hamilton & Ostendorf’s book. Quite possibly an unknown variant and a real “sleeper!”
A CDV of a contraband slave was identified as “Old Abe” on the bottom on the mount. We suspect his name was not really Abe, Young or Old, but that the designation was made “tongue-in-cheek”, in a disparaging manner. It crossed for block for $1,375.
Finally, a document concerning an appointment, endorsed by Lincoln on March 10, 1865 and by his successor, Andrew Johnson, on May 7, 1865, did well at $12,500.
A brass bootjack, measuring 12″ x 4″, made by G. & D. Cross of Morrisville, N.Y. and inscribed “Gen. McClellan The Union At All Hazards” was offered on eBay. It generated a great deal of interest, prompting 56 bids from 15 different bidders before selling for $1,055. Unlike many McClellan pieces, it was not a “Civil War” item, but a campaign piece from 1864. It would be nice to find a matching piece for Lincoln, but don’t count on it! This is the first one we’ve seen in 50 years of collecting.
An 18 1/2″ plaster bust advertising “Lincoln Tea” was offered on eBay with a starting bid of $1,100. Lincoln was a “teetotaler”, so he seems a likely choice as “spokesman” for such a product. Likely dating from the early 20th century, the rare statue failed to sell, as bidders, on sober reflection, decided $1,100 was a bit steep. Quite predictable, if you had bothered to read the tea leaves!
Christies held a manuscripts sale on December 9th. The highlight was a mounted albumen photograph of Abraham Lincoln, taken by C. S. German in Springfield sometime in January 1861. It is considered the first photograph of Lincoln showing him with a full beard. The President-elect personally signed it “A. Lincoln, January 26, 1861 Springfield, Ill.” It sold for $146,000. For some reason, all large format signed photographs of Lincoln date from 1861.
Sotheby’s had a manuscripts sale on December 2nd, just one week prior to the one held by cross-town rival Christies. It included items consigned by directed descendants of Edwin Stanton. There was a rather handsome oil on canvas portrait of Stanton, measuring 28.75″ x 24″ and inscribed on the back: “Edwin M. Stanton Secry. of War by Geo. C. Lambdin”. It sold for $4,063 which seems rather cheap to us. Maybe nobody collects Stanton.
But, people do collect signed Lincoln letters. as another lot illustrates. It was a 2-page Autograph Letter Draft signed “A. Lincoln”, to General Ulysses S. Grant, “in the field”, regarding Grant’s work in bringing the war to an end. It was written on April 6, 1865 from City Point, Virginia shortly before the surrender at Appomattox. Things were looking up for the Union cause and President Lincoln was anxious to “close the books” on the conflict. Lincoln tells Grant about visiting Richmond on the 4th and 5th, but that he must go back to Washington following the carriage accident of Secretary of State Seward. He alerts Grant to a proposal to withdraw the threat of confiscation of Southern property for states who voluntarily pull back their troops. Personally, he doesn’t think that anything would come of the idea, feeling that Grant has done a great deal to neutralize the threat of Southern troops and does not wish to interfere in his “work”. This important letter realized $575,000.
A Swiss-produced woven portrait ribbon of Lincoln, produced for the 1861 inauguration, was offered on eBay. These typically come in two versions… green and violet flowers. This was the green flowers version but someone had added pleated trim and tassels, greatly enhancing the presentation. It sold for a reasonable $673.
An unpublished view of Lincoln’s receiving vault at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, with Samuel Fassett back mark, sold on eBay for $995 in what may be termed a “retail” sale. The opening bid was set at $995 and there was one bidder who paid $995. There are soldiers stationed in the front of the vault and civilian spectators on the hilltop and in the foreground, In addition, there appears to be a reviewing stand for dignitaries to the immediate left of the vault. There also appears to be a makeshift wooden railing outside the vault.
Swann’s in New York held autograph and manuscript sales on November 20th and 25th. Here are some sample items from each.
A fair copy of the poem “Ann Rutledge”, in the hand of the author, Edgar Lee Masters, and signed by him, was reasonably estimated $600-$900 and sold for $469.
The very next lot was an autograph of Mary Todd Lincoln written on a her personal stationery, cut to 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″. It had an embossed letter “L” at upper center. It sold for $1,125.
In the next sale, they offered a coated stock card of “The President’s Dedication Address at Gettysburg”, 5 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches, in red and blue; minor offsetting on verso. [New York]: Miller & Mathews, . The cataloger opined that this may be the first separate printing of the Address. Aggressively estimated at $4,000-$6,000, it sold for $5.000. On the next two items, we repent the catalog entries for each:
(LINCOLN, ABRAHAM.) Bennett, John. Pair of general store account books including an account with young Abraham Lincoln. 556, 612 manuscript pages. 2 volumes. Folio, original calf, minor wear; internally clean and legible, indexed. (TFC) Petersburg, IL, 1836-55. One of Abraham Lincoln’s many early careers was as a partner in a general store in New Salem, IL. His business partner died in 1835, however, leaving Lincoln with all of the failing store’s debts. Lincoln gave up the store and tried to get by with his small stipends from the Illinois State Legislature and for running the New Salem post office, plus a bit of surveying work on the side. Lacking cash to cover his daily living expenses, he was fortunate to find a general store owner in nearby Petersburg, John Bennett (1805-1885), who was willing to extend him credit. Bennett’s store ledger includes one page devoted in part to Lincoln’s account, from February 1836 through April 1837. Lincoln bought a bridle, hip boots, a fur cap, gloves, and more, running up a debt of $25.99. On 15 April 1837, Lincoln moved from New Salem to Springfield. That same day, he settled up his account at Bennett’s store, paying $1.17 in cash, with the remainder of the debt being forgiven by Bennett. Was this balancing of the account a generous gift from Bennett to help out a promising young man? Lincoln had done some surveying work for Bennett, so this may have been a barter arrangement. Lincoln would go on to introduce several amendments and petitions on Bennett’s behalf in the legislature in the following years, so the relationship was certainly reciprocal. For a detailed description of the context and content of Lincoln’s account with Bennett, see Wayne C. Temple, “Lincoln and Bennett: The Story of a Store Account,” in the Lincoln Herald 69:3 (Fall 1967), pages 107-115 (a copy is included with this lot). Provenance: King V. Hostick; Hindman sale, 20 April 1985, lot 127 to the Forbes Collection. Estimate $6,000 – 9,000. It sold for $4,275.
“ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS A MAN OF GOOD MORAL CHARACTER” (LINCOLN, ABRAHAM.) Minute book of the Sangamon County Circuit Court. 315 manuscript pages in the hand of William Butler, clerk. Folio, original 1/2 calf, re-backed and re-cornered; minor damp staining, minor wear and foxing, Lincoln page worn with a closed tear not affecting text. (TFC) Springfield, IL, 6 July 1835 to 7 July 1838. In early 1836, Abraham Lincoln was a 27-year-old bachelor in New Salem, IL, receiving a small stipend as a first-term state legislator which he supplemented with surveying work and an appointment as the New Salem postmaster. For about a year, he had been reading legal textbooks in an effort to improve his career prospects. The first step in formal certification as a lawyer was accomplished by a 24 March 1836 entry in this volume: “Ordered that it be certified of to all whom it may concern that Abraham Lincoln is a man of good moral character.” Lincoln is later mentioned twice regarding the 17 October 1837 case of White vs. Harris, where “A Lincoln appointed guardian ad litem to William Nelson, minor.” We’ve traced no other direct references to Lincoln in the remainder of the volume, but it gives a flavor of the court where he began his legal career. We can also find indirect references by cross-referencing dates with the indispensable reference book, “Lincoln Day by Day” by Miers. For example, Miers notes that Lincoln filed his first lawsuit plea on 5 October 1836. The minute book doesn’t mention Lincoln, but does note the case: “Wooldridge vs. Hawthorn, deff ruled to give security by calling of cause.” The case is mentioned again on 14 March 1837, where Miers tells us that Lincoln represented the plaintiff: “Dismissed at the defendant’s cost.” Numerous other Lincoln cases can be traced in this manner. See Miers, Lincoln Day by Day, page I:56, 60, 70. Provenance: Sotheby Parke Bernet’s Roy P. Crocker sale, 28 November 1979, lot 229, to the Forbes Collection. Estimate $8,000 – 12,000. It realized $5,250.
Wes Cowan held a sale on November 21st. A Lincoln ALS from 1858 sold for $7,800. We reprint the extensive spiel from the catalog: 1p, 5.25 x 7.75 in., Springfield [IL], 2 Aug. 1858. Note entirely in Lincoln’s hand: Dear Whitney, yours of the 31st is just received. I shall write to B. C. Cook at Ottawa and to Lovejoy himself as to the subject you suggested. Pardon me for not writing a longer letter as I have a great many letters to write. Your friend as ever, A. Lincoln. While not a supporter of slavery, neither was Lincoln an abolitionist. He had some sympathy for the capital investment slaves represented, and knew its abolition would jeopardize the Union. Early in his political career he supported plans that would phase out the practice gradually, attempting to preserve the Republican moral high ground and the Union simultaneously. Opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which gave voters the right to choose whether slavery would be allowed in a new territory, resulted in 1854 in the formation of the Republican party. However, then, as now, the party encompassed more conservative and more radical factions. Owen Lovejoy was part of the more radical abolition faction. His brother, Elijah, also an abolitionist, was killed in Alton, Illinois, trying to protect a new press brought in to replace one (of many) that had been destroyed by pro-slavery residents. Elijah is often cited as being the first martyr to freedom of the press. Being something of a “natural” politician, Lincoln tried to avoid the extremes, but, like all politicians, he occasionally offended one faction or another. His “House Divided” speech, delivered earlier in the summer of 1858 when Lincoln was selected to oppose Stephen Douglas for his Illinois senate seat, was thought too radical by many in the party. In spite of their different viewpoints, Lincoln certainly respected and trusted Lovejoy as a person, and the two become friends along the way. The letter to which Lincoln was responding was from Henry Whitney, a fellow Republican. In his letter, Whitney warned Lincoln about the political dangers of getting close to radicals such as Lovejoy. Elements in the Republican party were threatening to support Douglas’s Democrats in many local and congressional races. As alluded to in this note, Lincoln passed the information along to Burton C. Cook, another Republican and lawyer in one of the most prestigious law firms in Ottawa, IL, which just a few weeks later would be the site of the first of seven debates with Douglas. In his note written the 2nd of August, he tells Cook: …[T]here is a plan on foot … to run Douglas Republicans for Congress and for the Legislature,…if they can only get the encouragement of our folks nominating pretty extreme abolitionists…. Please have your eye upon this. In this response to Whitney, Lincoln implies he will keep Lovejoy at arm’s length, but his exact response to Lovejoy has been lost. Lovejoy’s response to Lincoln, however, survives, and in his letter of 4 August, he ends with: Yours for the ultimate extinction of slavery. Over the months of August through November 1858 Lincoln and Douglas engaged in a series of debates. Most centered around slavery, with Lincoln emphasizing the immorality of the practice and Douglas supporting “popular sovereignty” – the basis of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Although Lincoln lost the election, the debates thrust him into the national spotlight, and ultimately gained him the party nomination for president two years later. In this sesquicentennial year of these historic debates, (and, of course, an election year) we might remember that occasionally losses lead to greater victories. Found inside a book purchased at a Florida flea market, this letter was featured on a segment of the PBS series History Detectives, Episode 10, 2007.
Other items sold included a 9″ x 12″ multicolored ink and watercolor by O. L. Pruden done in 1866 titled “Autographs of Eminent americans” which sold for $9,000. It included signatures of Lincoln, Grant, Custer, Chase, Seward, Stanton and others. According to the catalog: “The piece was drawn and compiled for the original recipient as a token of appreciation for her work with the US Sanitary Commission. The artist, Major Octavius L. Pruden, had come to Washington in 1862 as part of the 11th New Jersey Infantry, but as his New York Times obituary stated, “his exceptional skill with the pen made his services of such value to the Adjutant that he was soon withdrawn from the ranks and assigned to clerical duty. His copies of reports, rivaling steel engravings in artistic finish, attracted attention at headquarters, and when his regiment finally moved he was kept behind and installed in the War Department, and later transferred to the White House.” Pruden served as a secretary in the White House from the administration of Pres. Grant until his death in 1902, during the early days of the Theodore Roosevelt administration, and the Times states that he was at every official transaction in the White House during that period, including the nomination of everyone “from a cabinet minister to a postmaster in a country cross-road” and “copies of all the President’s messages, annual and incidental.”
A Lincoln memorial fiddle in non-playable condition sold for $3,000. It was owned by the family of General Isaac I. Stevens, first Governor of Washington Territory, who was killed at the Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862.
A souvenir cabinet card showing the bloodstained pillow cases from Lincoln’s death-bed managed $1,020.
A 16 1/2″ Bissell bronze bust of Lincoln, originally offered with an estimate of $3,000-$5,000, was “amended” to reflect the updated information that it was a modern recast. As such, it could only fetch $430. We suspect the impressed letters on the back, MFA, stand for the “Museum of Fine Art”.
An eBay vendor offered this piece of 1862 sheet music marking the death of Willie Lincoln, with the mawkish title “Little Willie’s Grave”. It was based on a poem by William Ross Wallace. Coincidentally, Willie’s full name was William Wallace Lincoln. The seller required an opening bid of $750 so, not surprisingly, like its subject, it died prematurely and failed to sell.
An ardent Whig, Congressman Abraham Lincoln supported fellow Whig Zachary Taylor for the Presidency in 1848. A pre-convention mass meeting was held in Philadelphia on February 22, 1848, titled the “Buena Vista Festival”. Lincoln was invited to appear, but declined the invitation. His letter to the arrangements committee was included in the pamphlet issued after the festival’s conclusion. It sold for $9.95 on eBay. It does not appear in Monaghan.
Vinnie Ream was a Washington, D.C. sculptor who had visited with President Lincoln and, in 1866, was awarded the commission to produce a statue of the late President to be installed in the Capitol. The work took five years and the statue was unveiled in 1871. This invitation from Ream, possibly signed by her on the envelope, was recently offered on eBay. The recipient was invited to visit her studio and view the model of the proposed statue, in progress. The bidding sequence was interesting. The second underbidder bid $44. The underbidder bid $500 and the successful bidder got it for $501.99. If another one of these shows up, it will probably sell for $45.
Robert Siegel Galleries in New York held a two-part single owner auction on November 20th. Many of the pieces in the collection were of Confederate origin. We reprint the catalog description of the first item to give an idea of how philatelic items are cataloged:
Hanging of John Brown. Blair & Brown Druggists, Columbus Miss., overall illustrated advertising cover depicting gallows with the hanging of John Brown surrounded by soldiers, titled “The Irrepressible Conflict”, 3c Dull Red, Ty. III (26) tied by grid cancel, “Columbus Miss. Nov. 22″ (1860) circular date stamp, addressed to Lexington Va. and missent to Mobile Ala., second 3c stamp affixed in Mobile and tied by “Mobile Ala. Nov. 23, 1860″ double-circle dates tamp with “Missent” straight line, missing top flap, still Very Fine, a spectacular illustrated hanging cover, Brown was executed on Dec. 2, 1859. $2,415.
A form letter dated February 4, 1861, signed by former President John Tyler, appointed a delegate from Tennessee to the Peace Conference in Washington, D.C. that Tyler headed. The three-week conference was attended by 190 delegates, but failed in their mission to avert a Civil War. Although there had to be 190 of these issued, this example was the first one we have seen. $2,070.
A cover with a corner store card for the “Charleston Mercury” newspaper is postmarked February 15, 1861 and addressed to Pittsburgh news dealer Hunt & Minor, famous as a distributor of campaign buttons and medals in the election of 1860. The use of the Palmetto flag as their logo is revealing. $3,105.
A John Bell campaign cover from 1860, sent after the outbreak of the Civil War using a Confederate stamp, sold for $2,760. Of the four varieties issued in 1860, the Bell is the hardest to come by.
Finally, an envelope mailed from Galveston, Texas is noteworthy by virtue of the patriotic albumen photograph “sticker” affixed to the upper left corner. The same photographic disc is typically seen on silk rosettes issued for Davis’s inauguration. $6,026.
A nice example of the Gault-frame Lincoln & Johnson ferrotype recently sold on eBay for $3,550. If that isn’t a record, it’s pretty darn close!
Skinner’s in Boston held a Fine Manuscripts sale on November 16th, scheduled to coincide with the Boston ABAA Book Fair. It included a 15″ x 11″ Lincoln mourning broadside. Issued in Utica on the day of Lincoln’s death, it asked local citizens for close their businesses for a brief period while bells tolled citywide. Outside of a lateral split on the right side repaired with tape, it seemed to be in pretty good shape. Estimated at $1,000-$1,500, it sold for $922 to someone in Connecticut who thinks he got a good deal.
Heritage Auctions in Dallas held an Americana & Political auction on November 8th. A 47 mm. Lincoln & Hamlin “donut” ferro, the largest size, made a strong $8,125. In this version, only Lincoln’s head appears, positioned at the bottom.
A Currier & Ives cartoon, “Honest Abe Taking Them on the Half-Shell”, one of the best of the series, sold for $3,000 even.
An 1864 ferrotype with eagle hanger and “retouched, beard added portrait” made a record $2,250.
An oval, silvered brass shell stickpin for McClellan managed a respectable $750. The sale included a very fine selection of art works, and all sold well.
An Avard Fairbanks plaster bust of Lincoln dated 1959 was 13″ tall and realized $1,500.
A 16″ bronze bust of Lincoln by A. A. Weinman, cast by the Roman Bronze Works of New York, crossed the block for $10,625.
Finally, we picture a signed, limited edition print of Lincoln by Norman Rockwell, titled “Lincoln for the Defense”. The winning bidder paid $5,000 for it and was pleased to have it, as an association or “go-with” piece to accompany his pair of suspenders that belonged to Lincoln! We couldn’t think of a better reason to have this item!
We picture what is probably the finest Jeff Davis patriotic cover we have ever seen. There was a stamped number on the back which might be a design number from the printer or perhaps a collection inventory number. The vendor was a Texas gentleman who has written a book on Civil War patriotic covers. It sold for a reasonable $99 and remains in the Lone Star State.
HCA in Burlington, NC held a sale the first week in November. Here is the catalog description for a letter which sold for $385. “Amazing content letter, November 4, 1860, Taylorsville, Il., 3 1/2pp. Written by Evan Betty to L.M. Henderson, with original transmittal cover. Reads in part ‘….There was a Douglas meeting in town yesterday and they had a big time in the mud. There was not hardly a sober man in the main. Every Douglas crowded the Wideawakes and the Hickory Club had a torch light procession last night. Henry and I and six others have left the club and gone in with the Wideawakes and will vote for Lincoln. The Hickorys was a hard looking crowd. Their captain and one of the Wideawakes got into a fight and they fit (fought) right in the mud, and there was about a hundred pitched in with their poles and there was a big time for a little while but there was nobody killed….’. Great Wide Awakes content with fighting among different political factions during the 1860 Presidential campaign.”
An eBay vendor offered a group of three Civil War letters in October. Two were routine missives with little value. The third, written by an officer of “Colored Troops”, had excellent content dealing with the presidential election of 1864. Although some Northern states did not allow negro suffrage and others, like New York, required ownership of property valued at $250 or more, the officers decided to let some of the troops that were “more than half white” cast ballots. Whether these ballots were actually accepted by the election officials in the respective states is unknown. It may have been a good-will gesture more than anything else, or it may mark an historic landmark. We reprint, below, the full text of the letter which sold for $357.
Camp of 5 U.S.C.T.
November 8 
I received your letter some time since but have almost forgotten whether I have answered it or not. We are in the trenches again — that means in our shebangs behind the breastworks feeling very comfortable and perfectly safe so long as there is no move on our side.
We had a little excitement this morn & made every preparation for an attack from the Johnnies on account of its being Election Day. This is proof enough to me of the style of loyalty of the McClellanites. We the officers of the 5th had a caucus last eve and made arrangements to vote and give all the “more than half white” a chance. It will be my first vote and I think I couldn’t christen it on a more important occasion for the coming election will have as much effect on the war as all our recent victories.
We have just received an addition to our officers — two 2d Lieuts. from a Connecticut Regiment — both fine-looking fellows.
Just was interrupted by an order detailing me as officer of the day and had to report to headquarters “without delay” where I received orders to have the companies march up one at a time commencing with A & deposit their votes. A good many pretty dark ones are voting but there is no one to challenge them.
We are having rainy wet weather and I think the campaign is over for this season. But there is going to be a Colored Corps organized & they won’t probably be very choice of it when there is any fighting. We hear that Willie is getting better & will not probably lose his legs.
I have just been up to see how the vote came out this eve. [James L.] Patton, [Elliott] Grabill & [Frank] Ford are judges. [Albert] Safford & [Frank] Call clerks. There were 194 votes polled — all for Lincoln. We had no McClellan votes. The McClellan voters were in sight of our polls looking on as if they were quite interested, but owing to an armed force around the polls, they didn’t seem it safe to use their right of suffrage. In fact, they did collect at a picket post in plain sight of where we were voting, exchanged papers, and were very anxious to learn how things were going.
I received a letter from grandmother the other with some tracts enclosed.
I think I wrote you something about sutler business. We have a permanent sutler now and so that is up. I should like to get some of you down here for company but shall have to give it up I guess.
Have just been round visiting the guards. Got the guns away from half of them & came pretty near getting a hole punched through me from one guilty fellow. Shall go round again when the 3rd relief goes on and then go to sleep till 4 o’clock in the morning. [Rev. James] Patton is having a shebang built today — that is a square log pen with the open spaces chinked & plastered with mud with a hole cut for a door & one for a fireplace. Covered with shelter tents, they make very comfortable abodes.
Brother James B. Johnson
Lieut. J. B. Johnson
Co. G, 5th USCT, 2d Brig., 3 Div, 18th Army Corps
Cottone Auctons of Geneseo, New York held an auction on October 18th that featured items being deaccessioned from the Strong Museum in Rochester. The sale included a 32″ x 23″ broadside advertising a “Union Rally” in Avon, New York in October 1860 where the featured speaker was Herschel V. Johnson, Vice Presidential candidate with Stephen Douglas. Horatio Seymour was also one of the speakers. Despite some fine graphics, the poster did not mention Douglas by name, but there was a single line that said “Little Giant Clubs” were invited to the rally. Douglas & Johnson broke with tradition in 1860, actively campaigning and crisscrossing the country. Besides Avon, Johnson attended a barbecue, or “ox roast”, in conduction with Douglas at Jones’ Woods (Manhattan) during the campaign. Despite some drawbacks, this is the only Douglas broadside we have ever seen. Estimated at a ridiculous $300-$500, it sold for $3,267.
A Staffordshire memorial spill vase for Lincoln was offered on eBay with a starting bid of $799. It measured 9 1/2″ tall and 4″ across and is a variety we don’t recall seeing. Still, given the market, it is realistically no more than a $300 item. Not surprisingly, it failed to sell and remains on the shelf (not ours!).
A 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ Republican handbill from 1860 surfaced on eBay. It announced a meeting at Logansport, Indiana on September 21, 1860 where the featured speaker was to be Cassius M. Clay. A special committee was tasked with awarding a large flag to the best drilled unit of the Wide Awakes. The flag was to be presented by the Ladies of Logansport. It listed different train lines that could transport people to the event, along with fares. Despite quite a few folds, it sold for $666. Clay was apparently a popular speaker in 1860. He spoke at the Young Men’s Republican Union in New York City just before Lincoln delivered his Cooper Union address and went to Hartford on February 25th of that year, the guest of the nascent Wide Awake club.
James D. Julia of Fairfield, Maine held a firearms sale the first week of October. Here’s one intriguing piece which speaks for itself:
PRESENTATION WHISKEY FLASK FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN TO ULYSSES S. GRANT.
This most interesting relic which was sold in auction in 2000 from the Hunt-Phelan home in Memphis, TN had a treasure trove of objects as it was being used as a historic house museum. Indeed General Grant used this home as a headquarters when planning his Vicksburg campaign. This flask is no doubt inscribed in a contemporary fashion to the period but as to actually coming from Lincoln to Grant, that we cannot guarantee but this piece is no doubt very old with great patina. We all know Grant had the reputation for drinking even though many said it was unfounded. In an anecdote published in the New York Times October 30, 1863, “When someone charged Gen. Grant, in the president’s hearing, with drinking too much liquor, Mr. Lincoln, recalling Gen. Grant’s successes, said that if he could find out what brand of whiskey Grant drank he would send a barrel of it to all the other commanders.” This particular anecdote has been repeated numerous times in the popular culture of the day, in plays, books and other printed sources. Could this massive flask have been made as a souvenir based on “Pop Culture” of the day or did Honest Abe, known for his humor indeed present this flask? PROVENANCE: Collection of John Montague. Pewter top is engraved with an 11/2″ 5-pointed star with “US” centered. Cup is engraved with a spread winged eagle with riband reading “E. PLURIBUS UNUM”. The presentation reads “PRESENTED TO/ GEN. ULYSSES S. GRANT/ For your patriotic and heroic victory at Vicksburg/ July 4 1863/ FROM A.L.”.
Someone swallowed the story and it sold for $7,475.
Farthing Auctioneers of Findlay, Ohio held an estate sale on September 27th. In sorting through the estate, they found an old turtle-back trunk that contained an assortment of items from the early to mid-19th century. The “find” was a 8″ x 12″ Douglas portrait flag inscribed “Douglas & Johnson. People’s Rights.” They recognized its significance immediately. We do know of another specimen in an old-time Ohio collection. Bidding commenced at $1,000 and two phone bidders went toe-to-toe before it hammered for $18,000 (no buyer’s premium here). It should be worth $25,000, so there’s some room for profit if the buyer is so inclined; however, it appears it sold to an East Coast collector, so put away your checkbook! The great stuff continues to show up, but it’s tough to sneak up on it!
Tradewinds Auctions of Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA had one of their specialized cane auctions on September 27th. The sale included a 36″ carved Lincoln cane dated 1877, likely made by a Union veteran in his spare time. It had some nice folk art characteristics, but lacked “sales appeal” and failed to attract the minimum opening bid of $600.
Alex Cooper of Towson, Maryland offered a 44″ x 33″ oil on canvas of Lincoln in their September 14th sale. It was unsigned and showed a standing figure of Lincoln clutching the Emancipation Proclamation. A nice work, but we thought it would have had more “oomph” if the artist had used a more “historical” background. Reasonably estimated at $3,000-$5,000, it surprisingly passed.
On September 13th, Quinn’s Auction Gallery of Falls Church, VA offered an oil on canvas attributed to William Morris Hunt. It was estimated $25,000-$35,000. A brief catalog entry stated: “Hunt, William Morris (New England, 1824-1879). 1859. Oil on canvas. Portrait of Lincoln. Signed ‘W.M.H. 1859′ in red. Oval carved ornate frame. Sight: 27 3/4″ x 21 3/4″. Frame: 37 3/4″ x 26 1/2″. Condition: Craclature in some areas.” According to the provenance, the painting was part of Hunt’s estate sale in 1880 and was exhibited in Boston in 1886. First off, the painting could not have been painted in 1859 as it is clearly modeled from Brady’s Cooper Union portrait taken the end of February 1860. Perhaps the date 1859 is actually 1879. That makes a lot more sense. Secondly, the thing is ugly in our opinion and certainly not up to the standards set by Hunt. If it was painted in the last year of the artist’s life, that might explain the falloff in quality. Also, when the artist used his initials, he generally used a monogram which is not the case here. A label on the back of the painting indicates it was sold as part of the Oliver Barrett Collection. That helps quite a bit. It sold for $17,700.
We see a lot of Lincoln stovepipe hat items on eBay and practically all of them either have nothing to do with Lincoln or were produced many years after his death. An exception seems to be this miniature hat. It measured 6″ across and was 3″ tall (the ratio of height to width perhaps not as Lincolnesque as we would have liked) and was offered at the “Sanitary Fair, June 1864″, as stamped on the liner. The Great Central Fair at Philadelphia, held June 1864, was the only Sanitary Fair that the President and Mrs. Lincoln attended. As related in a recent posting to this site, Horstmann & Company had a display at the fair and sold souvenir woven ribbons of Lincoln. So, it seems to us that this miniature hat, the only one we’ve ever seen, is probably Lincoln-related and was produced in conjunction with his visit to the fair. It went for a “very fair” $469.
Hap Moore of York, Maine sold an interesting Lincoln relic on September 6th. It was a walking stick with a metal plaque that read: “From fence rail Abraham Lincoln split in Decatur, Ill. on his father’s farm and made at Niantic, Ill. by Franklin A. Pickering in 1865.” Another plaque or cartouche at the top of the stick was inscribed: “Present owner S. F. A. Pickering, 308 Pleasant St., Portsmouth, N.H.” It realized $6,325.
The theme of hanging Jeff Davis “on a sour apple tree” was a recurring one in the Civil War period and the imagery appears on lantern slides, prints and patriotic covers. It is difficult to find the “flip side” for Lincoln. We picture a newspaper illustration from an unknown journal that we uncovered in a scrapbook put together during the war years by a Baltimore politician named A. Pleasants Webb. It shows “The Fate of the Rail Splitter”. The compiler pasted it on the same page that contained reports of Lincoln’s assassination and funeral… an ironic juxtaposition.
In the category of “understated euphemisms”, we present this 6 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ ribbon issued by the “Abraham Lincoln Post No. 11″ of the G.A.R. in Massachusetts. It shows an old soldier plucking his Christmas turkey and is titled “Reminiscences of the Late Misunderstandings 1861-1865″. We’ll leave you to speculate on the source of its humor. It sold for $53 on eBay.
An eBay vendor offered this 1 1/2″ x 2″ memorial brooch that contained what he represented as possibly a piece of a bloodstained chair upholstery from the room at the Peterson House in which Lincoln died. Since Lincoln never sat in that chair (assuming it even existed), we think it more likely that the material came from the chair Lincoln was sitting in when shot in the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre. A good story, but with no documentation or provenance to accompany it. Still, as John Wilkes Booth likely exclaimed, “It’s worth a shot!” It sold for a reasonable $375.
A CDV of Lincoln’s funeral cortege in Cleveland was listed on eBay. Apparently a scarce or rare variant, it sold for $537. The photographer was Thomas Sweeny.
On August 14th, PBA Galleries sold an interesting and rare piece of ephemera dealing with grass roots efforts to extend voting right to blacks. We reprint their extended description:
[Leaflet/small broadside] James McCune Smith, Chairman, New York City Suffrage Committee. Address of the New York City Suffrage Committee to the Colored People of New York. August 24, 1860. 1 pg., 5.25 x 8 in. “We have organized into a Committee for the purpose of furthering the cause of Justice and Right, so long denied to the colored man in this State…The laws of this State do not permit any man having African blood in his veins to vote – though he may have been born here – unless he is possessed of real estate property to the value of $250, making us an unjust exception; whilst foreigners, after a temporary residence, may not only vote, but may even make the laws which govern us… We call upon you, friends, to arouse yourselves to the importance of the occasion. Those of us now denied the right to vote, may do much… towards carrying the coming election in our favor, and making us freemen. We can do much by your organizing and cooperation… God will give us the victory.” At the same time that Abraham Lincoln was running for the Presidency in the 1860 election, a referendum was placed on the New York ballot asking voters to decide whether free Blacks could vote in future elections without having to own substantial property. As a similar proposal had been rejected 14 years before, Blacks throughout the state now organized in support of the referendum, McCune’s committee distributing leaflets like this in New York City – allegedly, more than 7,000 to other Black people, 5,000 in English to white voters, and 8,000 in German for immigrants. Frederick Douglass and wealthy white abolitionist Gerrit Smith also reportedly received 30,000 to distribute upstate. The text of this leaflet was reprinted in full on September 10-11 in the New York Evening News, which reported that it was “in circulation” among local Blacks. Yet, mysteriously, no other copy of the leaflet seems to have survived, not even among the voluminous papers of Smith, who paid for the printing. Even if the reports of mass distribution were true, the campaign proved ineffectual. On election day, Lincoln carried New York by 54% of the vote, while the Black voting referendum was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin. As noted above, James McCune Smith, a New York freeman of mixed race, was the first African-American to hold a medical degree and a leading African-American abolitionist. His association with this early Black political campaign makes this rare leaflet of great historical significance.
It sold for $3,000.
A CDV of Laura Keene’s bloodstained dress, issued by Pittman of Springfield, Illinois, saw spirited bidding on eBay in early August. It was the first such photographic souvenir of the relic we recall seeing and realized $372.
Heritage held a sale on July 30th that was simulcast to the Denver convention of the A.P.I.C. (American Political Items Collectors). As usual, there was a nice selection of Lincoln campaign items. The top lot in the sale, by no coincidence, was a 13″ x 8 1/4″ Lincoln and Hamlin parade flag that realized an even $20,000.
An 1860 Lincoln & Hamlin back-to-back ferrotype with a never-before-seen frame sold for $2,750. It was in outstanding condition.
Another “pristine” offering was an 1864 Lincoln ferro locket in a Plumbe daguerreotype frame. We assume a photographic gallery had some “remainder” or unused frames dating back to 1848 and decided to use one of them to fashion this piece. It was visually striking and made a reasonable $2,375. The next Heritage sale will take place in Dallas on November 8th.
An eBay vendor offered a 12″ x 15″ broadside dated April 18, 1861, calling for volunteers from the town of Ovid, N.Y. to join the army and defend Washington, D.C. This was just six days after the attack on Ft. Sumter and was issued in response to President Lincoln’s request for volunteers. For some reason, the vendor chose to list this as a “Buy-It-Now” for $1,625, rather than an auction format. Seemed like a reasonable price, so it sold almost immediately. Though it was small and lacked graphics, it did make specific reference to Abraham Lincoln which was quite appealing.
A Clark Mills life mask of Lincoln was offered by Scottsdale Auctioneers and Appraisals in September. We find it difficult to date these. There are supposedly two original castings, one given to the Smithsonian and the other given by the sculptor’s son to John Hay, eventually finding its way to King Hostick and Lloyd Ostendorf. Those supposedly had extremely good detail where each pore and hair were distinguishable. The example offered in Scottsdale lacked this attribute. In fact, the only word that was legible on the top of the skull was the date 1865. The catalog description read:
“One copy of the mask is housed in the Smithsonian, given by Mills’ son, Theodore Augustus Mills; The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA, has a copy, also from Theodore Mills; a Clark Mills mask sold at Christie’s in 2009 for $35,000, was exhibited at the Newberry Library, Chicago, in 2010, and resold at Treadway Toomey in 2012 for $32,500. The present mask has not appeared at auction and has been in a private collection for generations. Inscription is faded; some light soiling at top of head and inside. Approximately 11 x 8 x 7 1/2 inches.
Property from the Estate of Dolores Cole, Chicago, Illinois Collection of W. Knox Scottsdale, AZ.” The reserve was $7,500. It failed to sell.
Ted Hake had an auction on July 15th. There was a nice selection of Lincoln ferrotypes which sold very well. A brass shell ferro from 1860 with names on the portraits themselves, in mint condition, sold for $1,600. A slightly less desirable variety, also from 1860 and in pristine condition (names on frame) made $1,391. A single portrait ferro from 1864, likewise in pristine condition, realized a record $1,771. Finally, an 1864 ferrotype stickpin with colored red foil inserts went for $879. The ferro seemed somewhat dark, but was as-made. Lincoln ferros in mint condition are selling like hot cakes!
Brunk Auctions of Asheville, North Carolina offered a rather nice Lincoln painting on July 12th. The catalog description read: “(New York, 1854-1922). The Young Abraham Lincoln, signed lower left ‘Martin Rice’, oil on canvas, 56 x 84-3/4 in.; original gilt wood and composition frame, lined with wax and linen, restretched on new stretcher, impression and abrasions center, some scattered retouch under uneven varnish layer affecting approximately 10% of surface, some possible overcleaning at top. This Romantic view of Abe Lincoln exemplifies the spirit of the era. Here is the heroic figure: strong, pure and, as yet, unworried by the hardships of leading a country at war with itself. Rice has presented him in the pristine Illinois woods, a commentary on Lincoln’s purity of heart and spirit. However, in keeping with the tropes of other Romantic painters, he wants us to know that while the natural world is grand and intimidating – it can be controlled. To this end, the handsome and athletic Lincoln rests after having successfully felled a tree from the great forest that surrounds him. Rice exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1889, the Louisiana Purchase Expo, St. Louis World’s Fair, 1904, and the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1892-1893. Provenance: Unity Club, Brooklyn, New York; Parke-Bernet, September 23, 1981, lot 4 (accompanied by copy of catalog); A New York Collection.” It sold for $5,310.
A Currier & Ives hand-colored lithograph of “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” was offered on eBay. These are typically seen in black & white with standard borders. This example had vibrant hand-coloring and full borders, though with some tears which were covered by the mat. It sold for $460.
Joe Levine of Presidential Coin & Antique Company of Clifton, Virginia just concluded an auction on June 30th. It was his 84th auction and, contrary to the vast majority of previous auctions, there was no live component. It was strictly mail, fax and phone bid. An 82 mm. bronze uniface roundel plaque of Lincoln, signed “C. Hinton 1941″ was an unusual offering. It had the “Malice Towards None” quote on the front. Joe recalls having an example with the Gettysburg Address on the back. This one sold for $471.
A high-relief 4 1/8″ x 7 1/4″ bronzed iron plaque, produced in 1922, shows Lincoln and Tad looking through an album. The sculptor is Olga Popoff Muller. This type of bronzed iron was termed “Medallium” and is so inscribed in the lower right hand corner. Sounds like a medication to us, but whatever! It sold for $270. The illustrations in the hard copy catalog we received were printed in color… the wheels of progress are turning!
A pair of cartoon CDV’s, both dated 1863, sold on eBay for $306. We had never seen the Greeley example before and, in keeping with most Greeley material, it was not complimentary.
Dan Weinberg of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago just launched a re-designed web site (www.alincolnbookshop.com). It might take some getting used to, if you are accustomed to the old site, but it does look “snazzier!” We picture one offering, an 1861 Inauguration Ball dance card priced at a reasonable $3,500. At that number, somebody should “hop to it!”
Gene Dillman of Old Politicals conducted an internet-only auction on June 13th. Forty-seven out of the first one hundred lots failed to sell, but “Gentleman Gene” got some very strong prices for some rare ferrotypes. A 38 mm. doughnut ferrotype for Bell & Everett with a solid white metal frame sold for $5,473. Although listed in DeWitt, it is not pictured, and this represents its first auction appearance.
There are two examples known of the Lincoln mate which has traded hands on two occasions for $10,000, so the price for the unique Bell seems most reasonable.
A Stephen Douglas “belt buckle” ferrotype beat out the rarer Bell, selling for $5,970. But the biggest surprise was the Lincoln George Clark ambrotype badge. Examples have been going for $10,000 or so lately, but this one attained “Mastro level” prices, crossing the block for $27,119. Auctions are a hit-and-miss business, but Gene definitely hit a few out-of-the-ballpark this time around!
In the “Get a Life!” category, we notice they are now making reproductions of Abraham Lincoln campaign buttons in China. This seems like a new low to us. The example we picture recently traded hands on eBay for $6.49. This from the country that produced the Great Wall, exquisite porcelain and painted scrolls. We view this as the “Great Leap Backwards!”
A 16″ x 20″ lithograph by Child & Bradley of Springfield, Massachusetts was offered on eBay. We never saw it before, but it was ugly. The starting price was $325. It eventually found a new home for $346.
Heritage held an auction over this past Memorial Day weekend. The timing did not seem to have an adverse effect on the results, with total sales approaching $740,000 for a 492 lot sale. A 17″ x 22″ folk art banner for “Lincoln and Hamlin” sold for $9,375.
An 1 1/8″ x 3/4″ hand-painted gilt brass brooch in a split-rail fence design was attributed to the 1860 Lincoln campaign and made $750. While many may have questioned the cataloger’s attribution, the piece is listed in the 1860 campaign goods price list of Hunt & Miner of Pittsburgh. It is there described as “The Rail Splitter Pin – Consisting of one set of Posts and Rails; an appropriate design. Heavy Gold Plated.” On their price list of “Medals, Pins, & C.” it is designated #24 with a retail price of $1. This is double the next most expensive pin on the list which may account for its extreme rarity. This is its first auction appearance, to our knowledge, and it is not pictured in any reference work.
A 2 3/8″ x 4″ 1864 portrait ribbon on cyan silk is another “unique” piece previously unseen. It vastly exceeded its estimate and realized $3,000. By the way, the sale contained all four single portrait Brady ribbons from 1860. Together, they sold for a record $24,062.
A 10 1/2″ x 17″ advertisement for Rosemary Hair Dressing showed all the presidents through Buchanan, predicting that the face of “Old Abe Lincoln” would soon be added to the gallery. Partisans of the losing candidates (Bell, Douglas and Breckinridge) could cure their post-election headaches with an application of this panacea. It made $1,750.
Talking about giving someone a headache, a sixth plate daguerreotype of Lincoln nemesis and gadfly, Clement Vallandigham, sold on a single bid for $1,250.
A Lincoln Presidential Wax seal, applied to a transmittal envelope sent to the President of the Senate, went for $1,187.. a rare piece as far as presidential relics go.
Finally, an original pen & ink caricature showing LIncoln pushing McClellan in a wheelbarrow towards Richmond started off at $1, but finished its auction journey at $1,986.
We picture a Lincoln woven ribbon on its original card. The ribbon is listed as a memorial item in the Sullivan-Fischer reference work on political ribbons. Apparently, it was produced at the Great Sanitary Fair held in Philadelphia June 7-28,1864. Woven on a Jacquard loom, there were sold at the fair by Horstmann & Company, well-known makers of swords used by the Union army. They held huge and very lucrative government contracts, so their support of President Lincoln is understandable. Both the President & Mrs. Lincoln visited the fair and may have purchased one of these. The moral… keep an open mind on attributions. New evidence may prove you wrong!
A large U. S. Mint medal for Andrew Johnson was offered on eBay. The seller did not specify the diameter and we couldn’t make out the name of the die-sinker, but it’s one we don’t recall ever seeing before. It was probably minted at the end of Johnson’s term and includes a very laudatory inscription on the reverse. Neither of our two presidents named Johnson have been popular, which may account for this medal’s rarity. Though listed in the wrong category (antique Western collectibles), it still sold for a respectable $411.
Swann Galleries had an autographs sale on May 22nd. There was a Lincoln ALS, written just two months after his return from Congress. Lincoln’s single term as Congressman was less-than-stellar, yet friends continued to write to him in the hope he could exert some influence. Fellow Whig George W. Rives had asked for a government position in Minnesota and had sent Lincoln an application for postmaster of Paris, IL. Lincoln replied: “… You overrate my capacity to serve you. Not one man recommended by me has yet been appointed to any thing, little or big, except a few who had no opposition. Besides this, at the very inauguration I commenced trying to get a Minnesota appointment for Dr. Henry, and have not yet succeeded; and I would not now, lessen his chance, by recommending any living man for any thing in that Territory…” Estimated $15,000-$20,000, it did not sell.
Another pre-presidential piece was an Autographed Manuscript Signed Lincoln, in the third person within the text. It was comprised of five lines of notes relating to his response to the speech of Stephen A. Douglas during the fifth joint debate at Galesburg. Here, Lincoln attempts to refute a false allegation by Douglas that Lincoln attended the Republican State convention in October 1854 where a pro-abolition resolution had been passed. This is the only example of debate notes written by Lincoln other than those contained in a scrapbook he kept in preparation for the publication of the transcripts of the debate. That scrapbook now in the Stern Collection in the Library of Congress. Estimated at a reasonable $8,000-$12,000, it changed hands for $32,500.
A circa 1864 pro-Lincoln cartoon, “New Year Calls” was offered on eBay. There is no information about the publisher, year of publication or artist, but it was likely drawn by Frank Beard or Frank Bellew. It shows Lincoln offering the leaders of the Confederacy a choice between a lady representing peace or “Miss Extermination”. It measures 14″ x 21.5″ and is not pictured in any of the reference books on period cartoons or caricatures of Lincoln. Mounted to a board with numerous faults, it sold for $130.
HCA Auctions of Burlington, NC had a sale on May 1st. The highlight was a mini-booklet of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. These were published in December 1862 by John Murray Forbes of Boston. Supposedly, one million were printed and sent to Union forces to distribute to slaves as the army advanced into rebel territory. There are two versions. This one had a quote by Alexander Stephens on the front cover and a quote by Andrew Jackson on the back cover. The other example just has the title and no quotes. While rare, they do show up occasionally and are known to have sold for over $6,000. Not this time around! The HCA example sold for a phenomenal $16,590. Wow! That should bring a few more out of the woodwork! (Heritage Auctions in Dallas has an example of the other variety in their May 24th sale).
On a less lofty note, a cabinet card with a copy image of the Hesler Lincoln portrait, published by Max Platz of Chicago, realized $1,896 (I could just plotz!)
An eBay vendor offered a Brady CDV of Lincoln (O-87) that we thought was rather nice. We could find no auction records for it, even in past “Rail Splitter” auctions. A lot of other people thought it was nice, too, reflected in the final price of $1,125. Even at that level, there is room for profit and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it offered again at a substantially higher price point.
A pseudo mourning card for George McClellan was offered on eBay. It was a satirical piece aimed to predict or poke fun at his defeat in the 1864 election. It was rather small, 3 1/2″ x 4 1/2″, but contained some juicy references, such as “August Belmont… Imported Jew” and members of the all-black 54th Massachusetts Regiment firing a salute using “Quaker Guns”. The opening bid of $450 was a bit too steep, so the item failed to sell this time around. Priced right, someone will buy it (perhaps a “domestic Jew”).
An eBay vendor went to an estate sale in Ohio and found four Currier & Ives prints rolled up. Three were semi-worthless sentimental subjects. He hit the jackpot with the remaining one… a Lincoln & Johnson Grand National Union Banner. It was vibrantly colored with full borders and in near-mint condition. These have sold for as high as $14,000 in the past. They may be a smidgeon less rare than the Breckinridge & Lane (we can account for five examples of those), but are the most desirable in the series. Most pre-auction guesses centered around the $10,000 mark, so the final bid of $8,940 was pretty close. The winning bidder, we understand, was a Currier & Ives collector. We thought they were extinct, but apparently not. It shows that treasures are still to be found to those willing to beat the hustings.
We continue to see that collectors are willing to chase rare ephemera, particularly those items with real content from the campaign of 1860. Two items to just cross the block at Swann’s in New York City (prices do not reflect the 25% buyer’s premium):
Report, Young Men’s Republican Union. Printed circular letter, 4 pages, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, on one folded sheet. New York, 5 November 1860. A letter drafted the day before Election Day, reporting on the Young Men’s Republican Union’s extensive efforts to secure Lincoln’s election. It begins: “The time for organized effort to influence men’s minds in this Presidential Campaign is past; it only remains for individuals to do what they can. The returns of to-morrow’s voting will tell with what success.” The letter describes the Union’s efforts along various fronts, starting with a series of sponsored political lectures by Sumner and others which it estimates reached over half a million newspaper readers. Next was the appearance of four members at the Chicago nominating convention, where they brought a partially blank banner which thus became “the first in the whole country that had inscribed upon its folds the names of our candidates.” Third was the formation of the first New York company of Wide Awakes, or “Rail Splitters, as they were called.” Fourth was the production and distribution of almost four million pamphlets, including an edition of Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech which was “carefully revised by Mr. Lincoln himself.” The circular concludes with a list of officers and board members including William Cullen Bryant, Horace Greeley, and Hamilton Fish. No other copies of this important Lincoln campaign document have been found in OCLC or in previous auction records. It is quite possibly a unique survival. With an estimate of $1,500–2,500, it hammered for $1,200.
Also: Wide-Awake Headquarters, General Order No. 3. Printed circular letter by Ward, J.H. Hobart. 2 pages, 9 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches, on one folded sheet. New York, 10 September 1860. This circular announces a full parade of New York City’s Wide-Awake groups on 13 September in support of the state Republican ticket. It describes the marching order, and gives the marching signals: “First gun–Prepare to march. Second gun–To light up. Third gun–To wheel into column. Fourth gun–To march.” The second leaf is devoted to a more detailed schematic of the marching tactics, including the “Wide-Awake cheers”: “One, two, three, four, five, hip! hip! hurrah! Repeat three times. Wide-Awake.” As with the previous item, no other copies of this Republican campaign document have been found in OCLC or in previous auction records; it may be unique. With an estimate of $1,200–1,800, it hammered for $1,600.
Bonham’s in New York City held another installment of the Eric Caren Collection on April 7th. We saw four lots of particular interest and reprint the catalog descriptions of three of them:
The first lot was a “broadside” of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. From a graphic standpoint, it was undistinguished, but that didn’t prevent it from selling for $5,000.
The following three lots date from the brief period that followed the inauguration:
[LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. 1809-1865.] Wooden pencil with period endorsed envelope, reading in full: “This pencil is the one used by Abraham Lincoln in writing his dispatch from Richmond to Gen Grant- the week before he was assassinated. Given me by S.H. Beckwith of Gen Grant’s staff. / Washington, 1865.” Envelope is browned and worn and shows the clear impression of having contained this pencil; pencil lead is lacking from tip and is split in two. PENCIL USED BY LINCOLN THE WEEK BEFORE THE ASSASSINATION according to the period envelope in which it was housed. This was perhaps the very pencil used to press the close of the Civil War. The S.H. Beckwith referred to in the note is Captain Samuel H. Beckwith (1840-1916), the telegraph and cipher officer to Ulysses S. Grant, nicknamed “Grant’s shadow” by other staff officers. Lincoln was at Richmond surveying the damage on April 4 and 5, 1865. We find no record of a telegram from Lincoln to Grant on those two days. However, there were telegrams from Lincoln to Grant on April 6 and 7 when he was still in the vicinity, the latter being one of the most famous of the Civil War. The pencil with which that April 7 telegram was drafted is more likely to have been retained as a souvenir and the date is exactly a week before the shooting. Dated 11am on April 7, the telegram read in full: “Gen. Sheridan says: ‘If the thing is pressed I think Lee will surrender.’ Let the thing be pressed. A. Lincoln.” $11,875.
LEE’S SURRENDER. “God Has Saved the Union. Glorious News. Gen Lee Surrenders,” [Newburgh, NY: April 10, 1865], hand-lettered broadside, 625 x 760mm, in bold black lettering on yellow paper, split at 3 horizontal folds, offsetting from charcoal[?] lettering. INCREDIBLY RARE AND DRAMATIC HAND-LETTERED POSTER WITH THE NEWS OF THE END OF THE CIVIL WAR. Moreover, a contemporary manuscript note on the verso gives us the exact context of how this poster was displayed on the day that the joyous news was received. In full: “This Bulletin was displayed by Solomon & Co, Newsdealers, Cor Water & Second Sts at Newburgh, Orange Co, N.Y. on Monday, Apr 10th 1865. C.H. King, Newburgh, N.Y. Apr 12th 1865.” $2,125.
LINCOLN ASSASSINATION. BUCHANAN, JAMES. 1791-1868. Autograph Letter Signed (“James Buchanan”), 4 pp recto and verso, 4to (conjoining leaves), Wheatland, April 29, 1865, to Laura Pleasanton, with original transmittal envelope, page creased, some loss to second leaf from ink blot, envelope mildly toned, overall quite good. THE 15TH U.S. PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON THE ASSASSINATION OF THE 16TH AND THE SUITABILITY OF THE 17TH PRESIDENT. From his estate in Pennsylvania, former President James Buchanan writes the daughter of his old friend Stephen Pleasanton, giving her advice on her stock portfolio and also discussing recent events. In part: “The assassination of President Lincoln was indeed a terrible crime & may probably entail upon the Country great calamities. May God, in his good Providence, avert the evil omens! He alone can bring good out of evil. I had for many years been acquainted with his successor. He was a radical Democrat in all respects before the rebellion, though a little ultra is a man of ability, sound judgment & strong common sense. I had never heard or suspected that he was intemperate before I left Washington. I intend to judge his administration impartially by its conduct. His lamented predecessor, judging from what we have heard, was pursuing the course of magnanimous & sound policy. May President Johnson follow in his footsteps!” $13,750.
Fairfield Auctions of Newtown, CT held an auction on March 23rd. They offered a 19″ x 13″ broadside with decorative border that was issued by The Tribune Publishing Company to promote two of their publications: Bartlett’s campaign biography of Lincoln & Hamlin (“The Lives and Services…”) and Hinton Helper’s “The Impending Crisis of the South”. It itemized a long list of incendiary and vicious criticisms of Helper’s book by Southern newspapers while listing leading Republicans and Lincoln men who wholeheartedly supported the conclusions reached by Helper. Lincoln was mentioned three times in the broadside, but it was rather text-heavy and required some time to ascertain its raison d’être. Estimated at $900-$1,200 with a required opening bid of $500, it realized $1,770. They also offered a group lot that included four copies of the Cooper Union Address (in English) and another one printed in German. That lot sold for $1,534 to the same in-house bidder who purchased the broadside.
We picture a Stephen Douglas songster that recently sold at an Eastern ephemera show and was quickly flipped to an appreciative collector. We are not privy to the dollar amounts involved, but picture it for educational purposes only. It is only the second Douglas songster we have ever seen and the first example with pictorial wraps. A matching one exists for Lincoln, published by the same company. We have never seen songsters for Bell or Breckinridge, but they no doubt exist. Problem is… you may depart this earthly veil before you ever come across one.
An eBay seller posted this 5″ x 7″ handbill which listed voters in Rye, New Hampshire who voted for Lincoln & Johnson on election day 1864. Their names were arranged in two columns in alphabetical order. We have no idea what the purpose of this item was. Perhaps it was recognition of those residents who chose the winning side. Conversely, by inference, it may have stigmatized those sided with rebellion, a.k.a. Copperheads. The stated reserve was $210. At day’s end, it could only muster a high bid of $31, so failed to sell, and miserably so.
eBay seller “walnutts” offered this previously unseen composite CDV titled “Traitor’s Doom and Assassin’s End”. It depicts an eagle holding a mourning portrait of Abraham Lincoln in its beak and clutching Jeff Davis in woman’s clothing and the corpse of John Wilkes Booth in its claws. In poor condition, it still managed $325.
A nice Lincoln & Johnson California ballot with “anti-fraud” design on the reverse sold on eBay for $204. It is similar to one that depicts Lincoln and Andrew Jackson on the reverse (labeled “Johnson”), but a variety we have never seen before. Like many ballots, it had been folded in eighths and “tucked away” as a keepsake.
Thomaston Place held an auction on February 9th that included a 20″ x 27″ mounted photo of Lincoln by Alexander Hesler, re-printed from the original negative by George Ayres in 1894. Typically seen in 7″ x 9″ format, this is a rarely encountered super-sized version, complete with the photographer’s embossed stamp and copyright date, With some faults, it sold for a reasonable $1840. You can never have “too much” Lincoln!
A 6″ x 8.5″ flyer advertising Bartlett’s 1860 campaign biography of Abraham Lincoln was offered on eBay. It would make a nice “go-with” if you happen to own the bio. It realized $325.
A vendor in Carbondale, IL recently sold this “People’s Ticket” ballot on eBay for $473.50. It came out of the estate of Benjamin S. Wiley whose name appears on the ballot as a Congressional candidate. It dates from 1856 when the fledgling Republican Party was known in some quarters as the “People’s Party”. The ballot list candidates for statewide & local offices, Congress, as well as a list of Presidential Electors pledged to John C. Fremont. That list contains the names of Abraham Lincoln and William Herndon, law partners in Springfield. This was Lincoln’s third and last attempt to be elected a Presidential Elector. In 1840, he ran as a Harrison elector and, in 1844, as a Clay elector. Newspaper ballots exist for those two efforts. We have seen two actual ballots from 1856, both pictured in “That’s the Ticket!”, the superlative book on ballots published by our own Railsplitter Press. They are different from this one, making three different designs known from 1856. The vendor had another example which he subsequently listed for sale. Both ballots had been pasted in an album.
Case Auctions in Knoxville sold a large group of “surplus” 1864 ballots in their January 25th sale. We have seen two other similar groups offered in the recent past that contained about 500 ballots between them. That brings over 1200 Lincoln-related ballots entering the market simultaneously. In addition, from a graphics standpoint, they are not the the prettiest ballots around. We suspect their dispersal will be a lifelong project. Here is the catalog description:
“Group of 730 ballots from the 1864 Presidential election, from Ohio soldiers voting in the field. The majority are Abraham Lincoln – Andrew Johnson Presidential ballots depicting Lady Liberty wielding a sword with a variety of other ballot designs and counties represented. A small minority (73) are McClellan – Pendleton Presidential ballots. Of the 73 McClellan – Pendleton ballots, there are 26 having portrait vignettes of McClellan. Several paper spacers with writing of locations soldiers stationed in the South are also present along with a few examples of handwritten ballots. Additionally, some of the ballots have the names of the soldiers written on the back with a few having phrases written on them. Examples include “L. S. Holcomb Co. D 97th Ohio”, who wrote: “can’t see peace at any price”. According to the 1886 History of Morgan Co. Ohio by Charles Robertson, Leroy S. Holcomb served in the Mission Ridge, Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta, and Franklin, TN. Holcomb was seriously wounded at the Battle of Franklin later that year, and discharged. He subsequently studied medicine and graduated from the Ohio Medical College. Another soldier-signed ballot “Jas. R. Earich Co. E. 78 OVI” is for Sergeant James R. Earich of the 78th Ohio Company E. The Ohio History site states , “Earich took up the hazardous task of carrying a flag and fortunately survived the Battle of Atlanta. He was awarded a medal for bravery for his conduct on July 22, 1864. When Earich was offered a promotion to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, he declined because he did not wish to give up bearing the colors.” Another ballot with the pencil inscription “H. N. Arnold Co. J 94th Ohio Vol Inf” is for H. Newton Arnold, 1st Lieutenant for the 94th Regiment of Ohio. Additional Lincoln/Johnson ballots include two (2) larger ballots with red, white, and blue and crossed flags, drums, swords, stacked rifles and winged eagle design, 3 ballots with the Union flag only, 13 ballots with no design on yellow paper from Morgan Co., and 10 handwritten Lincoln – Johnson ballots. Lincoln was victorious in winning the state of Ohio in the 1864 Presidential election.”
The hoard sold for $13,200 which works out to a mere $18 per ballot. They say “cheaper by the dozen”. How about “cheaper by the hundred!”
A pair of McClellan and Pendleton unmounted ferrotypes were offered on eBay. Measuring 7/8″ across, they were meant to be mounted in a 26 mm. silvered brass shell frame with reeded edge, unfortunately now missing. Whatever happened to the errant frame? Perhaps these were surplus parts. In pristine condition, they realized $257. With frame, fully assembled, we’re talking around $2500.
As part of the Lincoln Centennial in 1909, a Newark, New Jersey automobile dealer issued this 1 1/4″ brass token. It features Lincoln’s bust on one side and the Cadillac-30 on the other. If you could find a completely restored example of the 1909 Cadillac-30 today, you’d have to spend upwards of $100K to obtain it. The dealership was located on Halsey Street, which runs perpendicular to Market and is a short walk to the County Courthouse where Guzton Borglum’s bronze of Lincoln seated on a bench is on display. Halsey Street is the location of a popular delicatessen, Hobby’s, which was frequented by Samuel Alito before he ascended to the Supreme Court. The token sold for $39.
As reported, Siegel Auctions in New York City held a stamp auction on December 19th and 20th, dispersing an old-time collection formed by Dr. John Robertson. There were many political items in the catalog, including thirty-three Lincoln campaign covers, plus a handful of examples for his opponents. A cover that showed two Wide Awake marchers flanking a beardless portrait of Lincoln (the same woodcut seen on ballots and ribbons) sold for $6,037. A cover that depicted a “conga-line” of Wide Awake marchers performing their split-rail fence maneuver realized $4,887. The “Cold Water Candidate” cover made $6,325. An unusual cover printed in Iowa that contained a “bonus” letter enclosure written on a split-rail fence and flatboat campaign letter sheet was a reasonable $800. A very rare cover with an engraved portrait of a bearded Lincoln (issued in two different colors of ink) went wild at $20,700. Finally, a Stephen Douglas cover with a voter holding a Douglas & Johnson flag soared to $2,185. Without a doubt, this was one of their finer sales of political material. Anyone that was able to attend in person (“Johnny on the spot!”) no doubt left a very happy camper!
Wes Cowan held one of his internet-only auctions of historical Americana which ended on December 16th. These tend to contain modestly-valued items which are not deemed appropriate for a regular floor auction; however, once-in-a-while, a ringer creeps in! We spotted a blank letter sheet with the “hanging Lincoln” cartoon. Printed in Nashville, it shows Lincoln suspended upside-down from a tree, his split rail and ax weighing him down, with Winfield Scott watching aghast. Various anti-Lincoln, pro-CSA slogans are inscribed. A matching cover exists. Postally-used versions of the cover are considered the “Holy Grail” of Civil War era patriotic covers and examples typically exceed $20,000 when offered at auction. As luck would have it, Siegel Auction Galleries in New York City sold a used “Hanging Lincoln” cover just three days later. Their catalog description noted: “Only twelve examples of the celebrated Hanging Lincoln envelope are recorded [all but one postally-used], of which only two are stamped with the 10-cent rose lithograph general issue. One of the greatest Confederate general issue covers.” It sold for $49,625 ($20,000 shy of the record, held by Siegel). The letter sheet, on the other hand, sold to a Lincoln collector with little or no interest in stamps for $1,880. Someone ran him up, but he was determined not to be licked!
In what may be a record for a cartoon CDV, eBay vendor “walnutts” sold a card with images of Horace Greeley, Abraham Lincoln and Henry Ward Beecher beneath a portrait of an African-American. The title (read it for yourself!) describes the preoccupation of these three gentlemen with the racial politics of the day. It sold for $1,173. Things were a lot different back then!
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