- 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- What He Really Thought of Lincoln: The Discovery of an Unpublished Letter by William F. Herndon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: 2016
For $795, you can purchase this 13” x 19” embossed tin advertising sign for “Lincoln Rubber Shoes” manufactured by the Goodyear Company. An eBay vendor is offering this rare piece of circa 1900 advertising, with faults, as shown. We like the connection between Lincoln, an “Honest Man”, and the Goodyear product, an “Honest Shoe”. But, to be honest, we think the vendor is being less than honest in overlooking the faults. But, “what you see is what you get!”
From Sotheby’s Judaica sale on December 15th – a booklet containing sermons delivered at Chicago synagogues during the Civil War period:
Fünf Reden … (Five Addresses … for Important American Days of Commemoration [Including Several Relating to the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln]), Liebman Adler, Chicago: Dampfspressen-Druck der “Illinois Staatszeitung,” 1866. 20 pages (7 5/8 x 5 1/8 in.; 194 x 132 mm). Catalog note: In 1861, seven years after he emigrated from Germany to the United States, Rabbi Liebman Adler (1812-1892), a moderate reformer, became rabbi of Kehilas Anshe Maarab, the oldest Jewish congregation in Chicago. The present lot comprises five of Adler’s sermons, delivered in German between March and June of 1865). The first sermon was delivered on March 4, 1865, the day of President Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration and was the first published Jewish sermon to specifically celebrate his presidency. Of the five sermons by Adler printed here, four specifically mention Lincoln by name; they all touch on themes that resonated strongly with Northern Jews in nineteenth century America. Anti-slavery and pro-democracy in sentiment, they are particularly effusive in praise of America’s treatment of the Jews, while offering sharp rebuke to the monarchies of Europe. It is not surprising that these were delivered and published in the President’s home state of Illinois, where he had strong base of support, particularly among the Jews of Chicago. Sold for $18,750.
A paper lantern from the election of 1864 sold on eBay for $227. It was inscribed “Union for Ever” on one side and had an eagle on the other side, encircled by stars. There was a rather large, gaping hole between the two designs which kept the price down. Still, it had nice display appeal.
An unusual cast iron doorstop of Lincoln was offered on eBay. It weighed 4.5 lbs. and measured 4.25” tall, 4” wide and 2.5” deep. Initially offered as a Buy-It-Now for $199, it sold on a single bid for the “open” of $99.
M & S Rare Books of Providence, RI issues fixed-price catalogs and have been in continuous business since 1969. A recent offering, pegged at $15,000, was a diary [no picture provided] dealing with Lincoln’s assassination and its aftermath. We reprint most of the catalog entry: KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. Diary of G[eorge] M. Lockwood, Hunts Hollow, N.Y. January 1, 1864 to October 25, 1865. Partly coded. 102 pp. (40 pp. 1865). Notebook 6.5 x 8 inches. Contemporary 3/4 calf, marbled boards. Slight edge wear, pages lightly browned, intact and sound. Legible ink. Fascinating diary of George M. Lockwood who was working in Washington, D.C., in the War Department wire office when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Parts of the diary are in numerical code which remain untranslated.
Friday, April 14th, 1865: Just as I was getting into bed Mr. Darrow came into the room and stated that the President had been assassinated about 20 minutes ago at Ford’s Theatre. I thought he was joking at first but I soon saw by the paleness of his face that he was in earnest. I immediately drew on my clothes and John & myself made haste to the scene of the murder. The president had already been removed across the street from the Theatre to Mr. Peterson’s house. The crowd was already a host filling 10th St. from F to the Ave….All kind of rumors are afloat one that Gen. Grant was assailed at Havre de Grace–Secy Seward & sons with 1 or 2 of his household have been severely if not fatally injured–All agreed in saying that John Wilkes Booth is the assassin.
On April 17, Lockwood comments that: Events show that the murder was not the plan and the purpose of one man. But a deep laid conspiracy, known to the rebellion leaders and the Knights of the Golden Circle. I hope the murderer will be caught.
Lockwood’s entry of May 23, 1865 describes the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac including an amusing anecdote about General George Custer. “Gen. Custer was in command of the 1st Division and when near the State Dept. his (horse) became unmanageable & went dashing along by the reviewing officers, Gen C. losing his hat & sword, but not forgetting to salute when passing the Presdt. and Gen. Grant. he soon came back got his hat & sword, and passed by with his horse well in hand.
On May 24, Lockwood gives a report of the review of General Sherman’s Army. Sherman was greeted with a thunder of applause as he and his horse were well covered with wreaths & bouquets. Gen. Sherman gave Stanton the cut direct refusing to shake hands with him.
Among the last pages of the diary: July 9th, 1865. Between the hours of 1 & 2. 4 of the conspirators in the assassination of Presdt Lincoln viz- Mrs Surratt, Harold, Atzerodt, & Payne were hanged. Mudd, O’Laughlin & Arnold sentenced to prison at hard labor for life and Spangler for 6 years. Thus ends the greatest and foulest conspiracy ever conceived by human hearts.
Lockwood, who had experience in the Civil War beginning as a private, was commissioned, apparently reluctantly, a Major of the New York 58th Regiment in February of 1864. He held several positions in Washington, D.C. including one in the Engineering Department and also as Chief Clerk of the U.S. Interior Department, having been appointed for his experience in Indian affairs.
Doyle’s of New York held a sale on November 22nd that included a rare and important John Wilkes Booth ALS. Estimated at an aggressive $60,000-$80,000, it failed to sell. Here is the bulk of their catalog description: Washington: 14 November . Two page letter on one folded sheet, 7 3/4 x 5 inches, signed “J. Wilkes Booth” with flourish, the letter addressed to “J.D. Burch, Esq.” A chilling and very late letter from Booth, in which he mischievously seeks out an item stashed before going into the South, long considered his treasured derringer, and mentioning a known conspirator. The letter reads in full: “Dear Sir. Hope I shall see you again ere long. Our friend of the stage last Friday never left what I gave to his charge. You know what I had to take from my carpet-bag. It’s not worth more than $15, but I will give him $20 rather than lose it, as it has saved my life two or three times. He has left the city. If you would be kind enough to get it from him and send it to me I will reimburse you for any outlay, and will never forget you. If you should ever recover it, either send, or give it to our friend, Co. Fayette St. where if you wish you can write me. Remember me to all the friends I met while in your country. I am yours truly. J. Wilkes Booth.” Being a famous actor, John Wilkes Booth enjoyed the uncommon privilege of easy passage between Northern and Southern states during the Civil War. In November 1864, Booth toured southern Maryland claiming to be a real estate investor and, having had successfully speculated in frontier oil investments, this guise would have seemed quite credible. In truth, Booth was touring southern Maryland in hopes of locating a reliable route out of Maryland into Virginia after his plotted kidnapping or assassination of President Lincoln. In Bryantown, Maryland Booth stayed at the hotel owned by Henry Burch and found himself among a group of Confederate sympathizers to whom he may have confided his plot. As was typical of Booth in this period, he befriended young J. D. Burch, son of the innkeeper, and was obviously comfortable enough with him to contact him with this letter days later. It seems that on his trip to Bryantown, Booth became suspicious that Federal agents were monitoring him, and he planted his gun with the driver of the stagecoach to return to him in Washington rather than risk having it confiscated in a search. As of the date of this letter the stagecoach driver had failed to deliver the item, and Booth penned this letter to Burch seeking its return, couching his devious intents in the flattering language that he frequently employed when attempting to influence a potential, typically young male co-conspirator (it is uncertain but possible that this letter regards the gun used to assassinate Lincoln). In a rare instance, Booth alludes to “our friend” on Fayette Street in Baltimore – this being the home of Samuel Arnold, a conspirator in the plot to kidnap Lincoln, further suggestive of the dark road he attempted to lead Burch down (Arnold was convicted for his role and sentenced to life in prison at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas). This letter is a remarkable survival as the legal and reputational ramifications of association with Booth were well acknowledged by most of his confidants immediately following the assassination and manhunt that followed. Many recipients of Booth’s late letters simply destroyed them to protect themselves rather than risk association with the larger conspiracy. Much of the explanatory information above was supplied in 1936 by a descendant of Burch to the Lincoln scholar David Rankin Barbee, to whom it was reported that young Burch hid this letter from Booth behind a brick in the hearth of his father’s home for many years. A transcription of the letter was found among the Barbee papers and the letter was published in “Right or Wrong, God Judge Me: The Writings of John Wilkes Booth” in 1997 (p. 123) with the original descending in the family since 1864. Rare: this letter is the second closest in date to Booth’s assassination of Lincoln on April 15th, 1865 that has come to auction in recent years. Vain to the end, that letter was written to a Boston photography firm requesting additional images of himself, and contained none of the nefarious undertones present in this letter to J. D. Burch.
Terra Incognito Auctions of Chicago held an auction on November 1st that included a rifle supposedly owned by Abraham Lincoln. It had the name “Abe Lincoln” spelled out in metal tacks. Of course, our 16th President did not refer to himself as “Abe”. The name could have been added later to enhance the value or it could have belonged to someone else named Abe Lincoln. Estimated at $50,000-$150,000, no one was prepared to “pull the trigger” and it failed to sell. Apparently, bidders weren’t satisfied with a statement from the owner verifying ownership for the past fifty years. Here is their catalog entry: “Description: Gun was obtained and has remained in same collection for over 50 years. It came from Eastern Iowa along the Mississippi River in proximity to where Black Hawk’s war was waged. ABE LINCOLN was in the militia for a handful of months during Black Hawk’s war. Abe was voted and served as Captain of his unit. History tells of the Lincoln family having three guns in the household while Abe was growing up, a shotgun and two rifles. So was this gun Abe Lincoln’s gun (16th President of the United States)? There is no way to know for sure, but it has “ABE LINCOLN” tacked into the underside of the gun, probably old shoe tacks. See photos of tacked name on underside of gun. This gun appears old & correct in every way and has been in the same collection for over 50 years. According to an article authored by Alexander Rose Tuesday, September 15, 2009 in the “American Rifleman”: “For protection and sustenance, the Lincoln’s owned an old smoothbore musket and two rifles. Lincoln later shot a turkey through a crack in the door.” This gun is a fantastic piece of American History. Unfortunately we do not have concrete evidence as this gun being owned by Abe Lincoln (16th President of the US). However the winning bidder does get a signed statement from the past owner that they have owned this gun for over 50 years. When purchased he was not aware what the tacks spelled out “Abe Lincoln”. It wasn’t until a handful of years after owning the gun that he and his wife later confirmed the name. This gun has been looked at by a gun expert and it appears correct in all respects, including the original metal ramrod, flint hammer, patch box, and all other parts of the gun. The tacks that were used to spell Abe Lincoln’s name, appear to be early/period brass shoe tacks. It is recommended that any serious buyers interested in this gun, set up a time and see and inspect it in person prior to bidding. Also that you set up any phone bidding early. Last minute requests will not likely be afforded a spot on the phones!”
This ninth-plate tintype of a political marcher was offered online and attributed as a Lincoln Wide Awake marcher of 1860. The vendor saw a cape, a torch and kepi, as well as a stamped “Neff’s Melainotype Patent 1856” and jumped to conclusions. In fact, this was standard gear on campaign marchers from 1860 to 1892. Wide Awake marchers generally wore a cape over their regular clothing and did not have a full length two-piece outfit as this man did. Also, the railroad-style lantern which is pictured as Illustration 61-62 in Herbert Collins’ “Political Campaign Torches” book was not patented until 1888. Our considered opinion, therefore, was the tintype dated to 1888. It sold for $471. The low price is perhaps a reflection of what most collectors thought of the piece.
Doyle’s in New York City just sold a painting of Edwin Booth by Thomas Hicks, who is famous for having painted Abraham Lincoln from life in 1860. It realized $7,000. Here is most of their catalog description: Thomas Hicks. American, 1823-1890. Edwin Booth as Iago, 1864. Signed T. Hicks and dated 1864 (lr). Oil on canvas. 14 x 10 inches. Provenance: The artist Edwin Booth, acquired from the above, 1864. Adelson Galleries, Inc., Boston, MA, inv. no. A1576. Private collection, acquired from the above, 1971. Literature: The Magazine Antiques, Mar. 1968, p. 272, illus. Letha Clair Robertson, The Art of Thomas Hicks and Celebrity Culture in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York, doctoral dissertation, University of Kansas, 2010, p. 142.
This painting is accompanied by a photocopy of a receipt dated July 20, 1864 from Thomas Hicks, provided to Edwin Booth in payment of $217 for A cabinet copy of the Iago, in frame. In her doctoral dissertation, Letha Clair Robertson describes the present work as not located, and writes that it is reputed to have hung in Booth’s home, today the home of the Player’s Club, which was founded by the actor. On December 15, 1860, Edwin Booth appeared to great acclaim in the role of Iago at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York. Five months later, Thomas Hicks painted a full-length, life-sized portrait of the actor in that role. It was not a commissioned portrait; the two men enjoyed a close friendship. Indeed, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum includes in its collection a lengthy letter from Booth to Hicks, written on December 9, 1861, on the occasion of the birth of Booth’s daughter, in which he also discusses the portrait. The work was praised by critics as a faithful depiction of the actor’s theatrical brilliance. The artist subsequently made at least four smaller copies. The version owned by the National Portrait Gallery (dated 1863) is the largest, measuring 31 ½ inches in height. The three extant replicas all appear to be identical in size, measuring 14 x 10 inches. One version of this cabinet size is owned by the Hampden-Booth Theatre Library in New York; another was sold at Sotheby Parke-Bernet in 1974.
While celebrating Booth’s accomplishments, his full length likeness also enhanced Hicks’s own reputation as a portraitist. Hicks retained the painting during his lifetime, exhibiting it in Philadelphia and New York in promotion of upcoming performances by his friend. Upon the artist’s death in 1890, his widow donated it to the Century Association in New York. That work, which had measured 7 1/2 x 4 feet, was cut down in size by a conservator in 1969, while it was on loan to The Player’s Club, so the full-length portrait survives only in the replicas in smaller scale made by Hicks.
Swann Galleries had one Lincoln-related lot in their recently concluded Illustration Art auction which realized $3,000. Here’s the catalog description: ARTHUR GETZ. “Lincoln Banner, 1948 Republican National Convention.” Cover illustration for The New Yorker, published June 19, 1948. Casein tempera on paper mounted to board. 724 x 559 mm; 28 1/2 x 22 inches. Signed in lower left image. Recto with autograph initial of The New Yorker art editor Harold Ross and Getz’s stamps and description. Accompanied by a copy of the published cover tear sheet.
The recently concluded “Lincoln & His Times” auction co-sponsored by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions and “The Rail Splitter” just concluded. It was a resounding success with sales approaching $2.5M. There were some major surprises, shocking even, but, as with any auction and sale of this size, some things did disappoint and failed to match previous records. At 866 lots, it may qualify as the largest sale of Lincolniana ever mounted. It closely followed the format and “sorting” of past Railsplitter auctions. We have selected just a handful of representative items. A tintype of Tad Lincoln, taken in Chicago in 1867, was lotted with a valentine card sent to his mother by Tad, along with Mrs. Lincoln’s transmittal envelope. It was part of an archive of items retained by Mrs. Fowler, a Chicago neighbor and friend of the former First Lady, whose son Henry as a playmate of Tad’s. These documents and personal mementoes dated from 1867-1871. This group made $7,500.
A CDV of Lincoln, O-60, signed by the President with a written authentication on the verso signed by John Hay, made a record for a signed Lincoln carte-de-visite when it sold for $175,000. We suspect the authentication was added well after 1862 when Hay may have taken this photograph from his personal collection and given it to someone.
An 11 1/4” x 8” silk parade flag inscribed “Lincoln and Johnson” was quite attractive, despite its small size. That did not deter bidders, however, as it soared to $52,500 after spirited bidding between two phone bidders. A record for a Lincoln name flag, we believe.
A 15 1/4” x 9” Lincoln portrait flag from 1860, stained and glued to a board, was something the auctioneers felt may not have attracted the opening bid of $20,000. Collectors are funny… sometimes condition issues scare them away… sometimes they turn a blind eye. In this case, the bidders put on their blinders and drove the price up to $75,000.
We were disappointed when the 28” x 28” silk Stephen Douglas presentation banner from the Lincoln-Douglas debate at Galesburg, Illinois on October 7, 1858 failed to exceed the opening bid of $25,000. Given its historical importance as only one of two artifacts linked to this seminal event in American history which actually names one of the participants, we were hoping for a lot more. Someone got a real good buy on this one. Hopefully, it’s found a good home!
Another good buy, in our opinion, was the 4 1/2” x 5 1/4” Lincoln memorial lithophane plaque made in Germany in 1865. We know of only three examples. This is the first appear to appear at auction in the last 50 years. It should have gone for more than $2,500, but that’s what happened. There was some beautiful Lincoln china in the sale, but that market seems to have “taken a hit” and may be on the ropes.
Another Mary Todd Lincoln item from the “Fowler archive” was a black silk mourning dress worn by Mary Todd Lincoln. The collection included a silk flower-pattern house dress and an emerald green silk skirt. We have never seen any Mary Todd Lincoln articles of clothing offered at auction, so were navigating unchartered waters… hence the conservative $5,000 opening bid. There was a good deal of interest in the mourning dress and at least two bidders considered it a “must have” item, reflected in the $100,000 final bid. If the consignor was feeling “down in the dumps”, that result surely put a smile on his face!
Finally, a Northern Central Railway pass for a Pennsylvania politician named A. Hiestand Glatz to travel to Gettysburg on November 9, 1863 for the dedication of the National Cemetery, part of the “Excursion of Loyal Governors” was offered. Glatz no doubt experienced the highlight of his life when he heard President Lincoln deliver the “Gettysburg Address” on that day. At $6,875, we feel the selling price was, if you’ll pardon the pun, “more than fare!”
An eBay vender offered a most unusual Winfield Scott ALS addressed to President Lincoln. Dated September 19, 1862, the letter starts off: “Mssrs. J. Smith Dodge & Son, eminent dentists, have heard that you stand in need of services in their line of business.” Scott goes on to say that he has worn dentures fashioned by Dr. Dodge for a period of years and is perfectly satisfied with their product. This is the first we’ve heard that Old Abe was “down in the tooth“. Perhaps the wish was father to the thought but, as far as we know, the President never bit the bullet and ordered a set of chompers. The vendor tried to extract $12,500 from wary buyers, but there were no takers.
PBA Auctions of San Francisco had a sale on September 8th. It had one Lincoln-association document signed by Abraham Jonas, a legal colleague and friend of Lincoln who happened to be Jewish. Estimated at $1,500-up, it failed to attract an opening bid of $750 and passed. We excerpt the catalog description below:
Printed Document Signed as Junior Grand Warden of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Kentucky. Sept. 4, 1830. Signed also by 3 other Lodge officers, including a publisher of the first Kentucky newspaper, a founding father of Louisville, and a General of the Kentucky Militia. 1pg.+ stampless address leaf. A rare signature on a printed statement about newly-elected officers of the Lodge, sent to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Vermont.
Thirty years later, Abraham Lincoln, while running for President in 1860, presented a copy of his Douglas debates to Abraham Jonas, calling him “one of my most valued friends” – a remarkable plaudit, because Jonas was Jewish.
When he signed this document, Jonas was a 29 year-old storekeeper in a small Kentucky town south of Cincinnati, where his family, the first Jews to settle west of the Alleghenies, lived after immigrating from England, Though a newly-arrived Kentuckian, he had already been elected to the state Legislature; he received the same political honor, a decade later, after moving to Illinois, where he started a newspaper and began to practice law.
In both legislature and courtroom, Jonas was friends with Lincoln, another storekeeper-turned-lawyer from Kentucky. Both joined the new Republican Party in the 1850s, when Jonas actively supported Lincoln’s political rise. He received only a postmaster’s appointment from the new President during the three years of Civil War before his death in 1864 – perhaps because of his religion or because three Jonas sons (one a future US Senator) chose to serve in the Confederate Army. When asking Lincoln, in 1863, for permission to visit one son who was being held as a rebel POW, Jonas wrote of “the devotion I have ever had for you and the Government.”
Despite holding public office – and heading Masonic Lodges – in two states, Jonas’ signature is rare, even in institutional holdings, except for the seven letters from Jonas in the Lincoln papers, including one, written after the 1860 election, remarkably warning the President-elect of Southern threats to his “personal safety.” No letter or document with Jonas’ autograph has appeared at auction in recent years. A routine 1856 legal letter from Lincoln to Jonas brought $3850 at the Sang sale at Sotheby’s in 1985.
An eBay vendor listed what we thought was a most unusual CDV of Hannibal Hamlin by Silsbee, Case & Company of Boston. It was likely a copy image of an earlier daguerreotype or ambrotype. It sold for $104.
Julia’s of Fairfield, Maine held their three-day Summer auction August 23-25. It included the following Lincoln piece:
OUTSTANDING FOLK ART CARVED ABRAHAM LINCOLN INSPIRED INLAID WALNUT WALL MIRROR. American, third quarter of the 19th Century. This mirror crest having a 28″ wide American eagle with spread wings having head down toward the mirror. The talons grasping naturalistic elements with lightning bolts protruding. The rectangular mirror plate surrounded by a scrolled cornered frame, on the left side depicting a freed African American slave and the right side a series of books with flaming torch above. The bottom lower crest has a finely executed 6″ deep relief bust of Abraham Lincoln with a leaf wreath surrounding. On either side are inlaid flags with stars & stripes. Above the flags, in deep relief carving, are guns, swords, and other implements of the Civil War. SIZE: 46″ h x 27″ at widest. PROVENANCE: Paul Tudor Jones II Collection. CONDITION: Mirror plate with deteriorating back surface. The woodwork and carving having a fabulous medium walnut patina. The carving is very good with an old repair on the left facing wing and small, old losses to left wings feather tips. The upper left end of the banner may have had a scroll end at one time but long ago has been lost and does not detract from the overall appearance. Overall a stunning achievement of carving & thought. It sold for $17,430.
Christies held a sale on June 16th which contained around 200 lots. These “boutique” sales seem to be the wave of the future. A small leaflet containing the text of the Second Inaugural Address was a real shocker, selling for $149,000! We excerpt the catalog description below:
LINCOLN, Abraham. March 4, 1865 [caption title]. N.p., n.d. Single bifolium (211 x 137 mm). 4 pages, the last blank, each page of text printed within double-rule border. Bound second in a sammelband of ten works (see below), 19th-century half calf, marbled boards, morocco spine-label titled “American Slaveholders’ Rebellion” (restoration to spine); half calf folding case.
VERY RARE FIRST EDITION OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS “… WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE…”: A RARE PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S CELEBRATED SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS. It is likely that this printing of Lincoln’s historic address was issued in Washington, D.C. at about the time it was delivered by the President from the Capitol steps on 4 March 1865. The present copy is one of only two copies to have appeared at auction since 1970, according to American Book Prices Current (the other, the Streeter-Sonneborn-Engelhard copy, sold Christie’s New York, 26 January 1996, lot 159).
Sotheby’s held a sale on June 14th that included a handful of Lincoln letters along with a signed CDV. We excerpt some of the catalog description below. The photograph sold for $25,000 to a dealer.
A fine signed photograph of President Lincoln, with an intriguing history. This is one of several signed copies of this portrait that Lincoln contributed to the Tazewell County, Illinois, Sanitary Fair. The photographs were solicited by a determined Mrs. Henry P. Westerman, who on October 2, 1864, wrote to Lincoln, “A second time I importune you for a donation to our Tazewell County fair, Sanitary Fair I should say. And I cannot give up the idea of our President giving us something. If you remember I stopped you at the White House steps … and you asked me what I wanted you to do. I told you and you said that you were worn out and could not go up again for anything but said you would remember my position. Now this time if you cannot conveniently give us anything else … send a large picture of yourself which we can make a great deal on it. It is the earnest wishes of our Soldiers Aid Society that you would do something as it would inspire others to donate.” Westerman suggested that should Lincoln want to find out if she was “an imposter or not,” he could inquire of John Albert Jones, a childhood friend of hers “who is in some office in the Treasury department I disremember which.” She further tells the President. “What you send will have to be done immediately as our San fair commences on the 18th Oct.” She also reminded him in a postscript that “by so doing you will be rewarded from above.” In order to support the Tazewell Fair—and perhaps to forestall any further entreaties from Mrs. Westerman—Lincoln had at least three signed carte-de-visite size prints sent to the Pekin Soldiers Aid Society (Hamilton & Ostendorf record two others in Lincoln in Photographs, p. 252).
Swann Galleries held a manuscripts sale on June 21st. The cover lot was a large lithograph of Lincoln after the from-life portrait by Charles A. Barry, done in Springfield in June 1860. It was published in both Boston and New York. This example had faults, but was restorable. Although examples have sold for as much as $17,000 in the past, the last known sale, at Northeast Auctions, was slightly below $5,000. This one made $2,750.
A Harvard yearbook for 1864 contained portraits of the faculty (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Agassiz, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), group shots of student clubs, campus buildings and 101 individual albumen portraits of the graduating class, most notably Robert Todd Lincoln. We never thought Robert looked anything like his father, but we can see the resemblance in this photo. The estimate was $4,000-$6,000, but there were no takers.
We see a lot of cigar boxes with Lincoln as a subject. An rather unusual one was listed on eBay. It was made circa 1898 and depicted “The War Cabinet” with Lincoln center-stage. More than that, it was constructed to look like a book. If stood upright, it had a spine with the name of the cigar and the name of the manufacturer. It made a strong $264.
Cowan’s held an auction on June 10th. They offered a cherry, maple and pine Empire-style desk that was “purportedly used by Abraham Lincoln either at his Springfield firm or while partnered with John Todd Stuart.” The desk descended in the family of Benjamin S. Edwards who was Stuart’s law partner between 1843 and 1883. The cataloger speculates that either Benjamin Edwards or his brother Ninian may have purchased the desk when Lincoln left Springfield for Washington, or it may have been a holdover piece of furniture from the Stuart & Lincoln partnership, or that Lincoln used the desk when writing a document for the Stuart & Edwards law firm. There are a lot of “if’s” there. The desk is the correct age, it came from Springfield and has a connection to the Edwards family. Beyond that, who can say? This uncertainty was reflected in the low estimate, $4,000-$6,000. An 1848 legal document, written entirely in the hand of Lincoln in conjunction with the Stuart & Edwards law firm, was included in the lot. The document and the desk descended in the Edwards family and were always kept together. The two items sold for $11,450.
Less speculative was a tinted ninth-plate ambrotype of a Douglas partisan. He wears a red sash and a glazed, checkered kepi with a hatband inscribed “Douglas H: Club”. The first three letters of the name “Douglas” are obscured and we are not sure of the significance of the letter “H”, but it is, in our opinion, totally as represented. It realized $2,880.
An eBay vendor listed a pasteboard ticket supposedly issued for the first Democratic National Convention held at Institute Hall in Charleston, South Carolina. Fifty Southern delegates walked out of the convention hall when their pro-slavery platform plank was voted down. The convention continued without them with an amazing 57 ballots cast. The vote tallies hardly changed from ballot-to-ballot. Douglas led James Guthrie of Kentucky, but could not get the extra 50+ votes needed for a 2/3 majority of all 303 delegates, of which only 253 remained. Eventually, the convention adjourned and reconvened in Baltimore. The ticket is rather unusual in several respects. It lists the name of a Connecticut delegate, a Mr. Arnold (the first two letters are not quite legible, but the name Arnold is very clear and the second letter looks like an “S”). It is not imprinted with the name of the convention hall or the opening day (April 23); rather, it has the name of the hotel, the guest’s room number and the check-in date (April 19, 1860). The initials “T.L.N.” are likely the name of the hotel manager. The Mills House was the newest and largest hotel in Charleston, erected in 1853, and still in business today. Samuel Arnold was indeed a delegate from Connecticut. Our assumption at this point is the following: the Committee on Arrangements booked hotel rooms for all the delegates that required same. They had tickets printed up for each delegate, listing the name of the hotel and the room number. The day of the month was left blank, as delegates would be arriving at different times. In fact, the delegation from the seven Southern states that eventually bolted the convention did arrive early, met in secret and devised a plan to derail the nomination of Douglas. Having issued tickets to all delegates, they probably felt it was unnecessary to print new ones. These “hotel reservation” tickets served both purposes. Accordingly, we do not expect to find ones dated for the actual start of the convention. Delegates stayed at the Mills House, the Charleston Hotel and Hibernian Hall (sleeping on cots set up in the main assembly room). Delegates who traveled from the Northeast by luxury steamer remained onboard, anchored in the harbor. This was the first and only time a national nominating convention was held in Charleston. It was hot & humid and traveling there was a nightmare. Former President Franklin Pierce, a New Hampshire delegate and one of the hopefuls wrote, “I have never been taught to believe in eternal damnation, but if it exists, the journey to Charleston has given me the only sample I shall ever need.” Some delegations brought their own liquor supplies and lady escorts. The ticket sold for $537.
A rather handsome marble plaque of a beardless Lincoln, mounted in a deeply recessed frame, was recently offered on eBay for a Buy-It-Now price of $1.295. It was signed by German-American Frederick Heis, who operated a marble and stone-cutting business in Leavenworth, Kansas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It measured 12” in height. The frame was 21” x 24” x 5” deep. As of this writing, there were no takers.
Sotheby’s held a sale on May 25th that contained a mere 94 lots. The sell-through rate was around 60%, but some big ticket items made the effort worthwhile. We reprint the catalog descriptions of the top two:
Abraham Lincoln, as sixteenth President
AN EXTREMELY RARE MANUSCRIPT COPY OF THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, SIGNED AND ENDORSED BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN (“ABRAHAM LINCOLN”; “APPROVED. FEBRUARY 1, 1865.”)
“Thirty-Eighth Congress of the United States of America; At the Second Session, Begun and held at the city of Washington, on Monday, the fifth day of December, one thousand eight hundred and Sixty-four. A ResolutionSubmitting to the legislatures of the Several States a proposition to amend the Constitution of the United States … Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, (two-thirds of both Houses concurring,) let the following article be proposed to the legislation of the several States as an amendment to Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three- fourths of said legislatures shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of said Constitution namely:
“Article XIII. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Engrossed document on vellum (21 5/8 x 15 5/8 in.; 549 x 397 mm) ruled in blue and printed with the long-form variant of the Congressional Resolution form, text engrossed by two clerks, Washington, D.C., ca. February 1, 1865, co-signed by Hannibal Hamlin as Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate, Schuyler Colfax as Speaker of the House, John W. Forney as Secretary of the Senate, and 36 (of the 38) Senators who voted for passage (lacking only William P. Fessenden and B. F. Harding), with certification prepared for Secretary of the Senate Forney (“I certify that this Resolution originated in the Senate [blank] Secretary”) though not signed by him, marked “Duplicate”; some scuffing and fading and flaking of ink, scuffing, mostly affecting the senatorial signatures.
Sotheby’s London, May 6, 1930, lot 377, sold to — Maggs Brothers, London — John Gribbel, Philadelphia (Parke-Bernet, 30 October 1940, lot 208) — Offered for sale by an undesignated consignor at Sotheby’s New York, 26 October 26, 1988, lot 125, but passed, shortly thereafter sold privately to — the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Sotheby’s thanks Seth Kaller for providing the census and assistance in cataloguing this lot. Additional information on Lincoln-signed manuscript copies of the Thirteenth Amendment can be found at www.Freedomdocuments.org.
Basler, Roy P. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 5: 442-443, Vol. 7: 394-396; Berlin, Ira. “The Slaves Were the Primary Force Behind Their Emancipation,” in The Civil War: Opposing Viewpoints (San Diego, 1995); Davis, David Brion and Steven Mintz, eds. The Boisterous Sea of Liberty: A Documentary History of America from Discovery through the Civil War (New York, 1998); Freehling, William W. “The Founding Fathers and Slavery,” in Allen Weinstein et al., eds., American Negro Slavery: A Modern Reader(New York, 1979); Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Simon & Shuster, 2005; Guelzo, Allen C. “Abraham Lincoln and the Passage of the Thirteenth Amendment” inGreat Lincoln Documents. New York: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 2009; Holtzer, Harold and Gabbard, Sara Vaugn, editors. Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation and the Thirnteenth Amendment. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007; Horton, James Oliver and Lois E. Horton. In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860 (New York, 1997); Lehrman, Lewis E. Lincoln at Peoria: The Turning Point. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 2008; McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York, 1988); Neely, Jr., Mark E. The Last Best Hope on Earth. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993; Peterson, Merrill D. “This Grand Pertinacity”: Abraham Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence.” Fourteenth Annual R. Gerald McMurtry Lecture, The Lincoln Museum (Fort Wayne, IN, 1991); Rhodehamel, John, and Seth T. Kaller, “Copies of the Thirteenth Amendment,” Manuscripts, 44, 2 (Spring 1992), p.109, #10; Wills, Gary. Lincoln at Gettysburg. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1992.
ONE OF THREE “SENATE” COPIES OF THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT, ABOLISHING SLAVERY AND INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE. THIS AMENDMENT WAS THE FIRST SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE TO AMERICA’S CONCEPTION OF ITS LIBERTIES SINCE THE BILL OF RIGHTS WAS RATIFIED IN 1791. AFTER SIGNING THE ORIGINAL RESOLUTION ON FEBRUARY 1, LINCOLN RESPONDED TO A SERENADE, AND TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LEGALITY OF THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION AND PRIOR EFFORTS TO ERADICATE SLAVERY, BY SAYING THAT THE AMENDMENT “IS A KING’S CURE FOR ALL THE EVILS. IT WINDS THE WHOLE THING UP.
This document was clearly signed by the Senators at the same time as the other two Senate copies (owned by the Lincoln Financial Collection, Indiana State Museum, and St. Mary College).
Lincoln, Slavery and the Declaration of Independence: Toward Resolution
The Emancipation Proclamation, by ushering in full abolition, helped fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence, rescuing the nation’s founding philosophy of human liberty from the charge of hypocrisy. As historians James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton note, the history of African Americans “both illustrates and contradicts the promise of America—the principles embodied in the nation’s founding documents” (Horton, ix). Lincoln himself noted in 1855, “Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics [sic].” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy” (Peterson, 10).
Lincoln credibly believed that, although the Founders did not accord black people social and political equality, they did not expect blacks’ position in society to remain static. He argued that in the Declaration of Independence, “They simply meant to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances would permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for a free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all;…constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere. The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use to our effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use” (Peterson, 11).
The decision to emancipate had not come easily. Lincoln doubtless saw the war years as a time of particularly rapid transition toward this “free society,” and his Emancipation Proclamation displays a degree of caution. Like most men of his time, he had doubts about how African Americans would fit into society as free citizens, though free blacks had lived in both the North and the South since colonial days, with a limited range of rights that sometimes included suffrage. Lincoln enjoined “upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.”
Abolishing Slavery in all of America
While the Emancipation Proclamation was taking its effect in the field as the Union army advanced, Lincoln also advocated a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery everywhere in the United States. On December 14, 1863, Ohio Congressman James M. Ashley introduced such an amendment in the House of Representatives. Senator John Brooks Henderson of Missouri, a border state that still sanctioned slavery, followed suit on January 11, 1864, courageously submitting a joint resolution for an amendment abolishing slavery.
The proposal passed in the Senate on April 8, 1864, with a vote of 38 to 6. Two months later, however, it was defeated in the House of Representatives, 95 to 66 (or by another account, 93-65), shy of the 2/3 necessary for approval. Lincoln, not about to give up, made abolition a central plank of the National Union platform during his re-election campaign. He argued,
“When the people in revolt, with a hundred days of explicit notice, that they could, within those days, resume their allegiance, without the overthrow of their institution, and that they could not so resume it afterwards, elected to stand out, such [an] amendment of the Constitution as [is] now proposed, became a fitting, and necessary conclusion to the final success of the Union cause. Such alone can meet and cover all cavils…” (Basler, Collected Works, 7, 380).
Lincoln’s victory over McClellan in 1864 gave him a new mandate and enough seats in the House to eventually guarantee passage of the stalled amendment. Not content to wait until the new Congress met in March, the amendment’s supporters brought the measure to another vote in the House on January 31, 1865.
On being informed that the amendment was still two votes short, Lincoln is reported to have told the Republican Congressmen: “I am President of the United States, clothed with great power. The abolition of slavery by Constitutional provisions settles the fate, for all … time, not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come – a measure of such importance that those two votes must be procured. I leave it to you to determine how it shall be done, but remember that I am President of the United States, clothed with immense power, and I expect you to procure those two votes …” (John B. Alley, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, ed., Rice, 1886 ed., p 585-6).
The outcome was in doubt until the final hour. A Pennsylvania Democrat, Archibald McAllister, opened the debate by explaining why he had changed his vote from a “Nay” to an “Aye.” He had been in favor of exhausting all means of conciliation, but was now satisfied that nothing short of independence would satisfy the Southern Confederacy, and that therefore it must be destroyed, and he must cast his vote against its cornerstone, and declare eternal war with the enemies of the country. Fellow Pennsylvania Democrat Alexander Hamilton Coffroth also changed his vote, and gave a speech advocating passage. Arguments continued until, finally, the votes were tallied. This time it passed, by a vote of 119 to 56, with 8 abstentions. When Speaker Colfax declared the results, “a moment of silence succeeded, and then, from floor and galleries, burst a simultaneous shout of joy and triumph, spontaneous, irrepressible and uncontrollable, swelling and prolonged in one vast volume of reverberating thunder…” (Report of the special committee on the passage by the House of Representatives of the constitutional amendment for the abolition of slavery. January 31st, 1865: The Action of the Union League Club on the Amendment, February 9, 1865, in “From Slavery to Freedom.” American Memory, Library of Congress).
Despite the celebrations, three-fourths of the state legislatures needed to ratify the amendment before it could be considered part of the Constitution. Accordingly, Secretary of State William H. Seward immediately sent certified printed copies of the resolution to each governor. In a show of support, Lincoln’s home state of Illinois ratified the 13th amendment on February 1, the same day Lincoln signed the measure. Governor Richard J. Oglesby telegraphed the news to Lincoln at 7:25 that evening, informing him: “[T]he Legislature has by a large majority ratified the amendment to the Constitution. All suppose you had signed the Joint resolution of Congress. Great enthusiasm” (Oglesby to Lincoln, 1 February 1865, AL Papers at the Library of Congress). Five minutes later, Ward H. Lamon, the president’s old law partner, and Edward L. Baker, editor of the Illinois State Journal, relayed the same news. The amendment had passed, they exclaimed triumphantly, “with a great hurrah” (Lamon and Baker to Lincoln, 1 February 1865, AL Papers at the Library of Congress).
Addressing a Washington, D.C. crowd celebrating the historic event, Lincoln offered congratulations on the nation’s great moral victory, but noted that there was still work to be done, state by state. Illinois, he informed them, had already done its part. Maryland was about half through, Lincoln added, but he felt proud that Illinois was “a little ahead” (contemporary newspaper accounts of Lincoln’s speech, Basler 8:255).
By the time General Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, twenty states had ratified the amendment, including Louisiana and Tennessee. Their state governments had already been reconstructed under Lincoln’s so-called “Ten Percent Plan.” On December 8, 1863, Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction promised recognition of new state governments once the number of persons swearing allegiance to the United States equaled ten percent of the number of votes cast in that state in the 1860 election.
Tragically, Lincoln did not live to see the amendment become law. Over time, his understanding of the status of black Americans had evolved. He now supported giving the vote to literate black men and to black veterans, as he made clear in a speech from a White House balcony on April 11, 1865. On hearing it, John Wilkes Booth angrily told a companion, “Now, by God, I’ll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever make” (McPherson, 852).
On 14 April 1865, when Arkansas became the 21st state to adopt the 13th amendment, only six more states were needed for ratification. That evening, Lincoln was fatally shot by Booth at Ford’s Theatre, and died the next morning. With Georgia’s ratification on December 6, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment became part of the Constitution.
When the amendment went into effect twelve days later, it freed nearly a million slaves still held in bondage. By the end of January 1866, though no longer required for implementation, five more states had added their votes of approval. The remaining states – Texas, Delaware, Kentucky and Mississippi – finally ratified the amendment in 1870, 1901, 1976 and 1995, respectively.
The Senate’s Withholding Resolution
Having already been approved by the Senate the previous April, the amendment passed in the House on 31 January 1865. The engrossed manuscript was prepared, and Lincoln signed it on February 1st. There does not appear to be any record of the number of “souvenir” copies of the Amendment prepared for Lincoln to sign. Twelve to fifteen are known with Lincoln’s signature. Several additional manuscript copies are known signed by Senators, Congressmen and other officials, but with the space for the President’s name blank. On February 7th, the Senate, anxious not to set a precedent, resolved that the president’s signature had been “unnecessary” on a joint amendment resolution. The Senate secretary, John W. Forney, was directed to “withhold from the House of Representatives the message of the President informing the Senate that he had approved and signed the same….” (Senate Journal) Thus, all of the Lincoln-signed copies were almost certainly signed by him before February 7th. After the resolution, it is probable that the president would have thought it impolitic to sign any additional copies.
Slavery and the Civil War
Growing antislavery sentiments helped Lincoln’s Republican Party rise to prominence in the 1850s. Although the party attracted abolitionists, it mostly championed the “free soil” argument that slavery limited opportunity for the common white man. National tensions came to a head when Lincoln was elected president in 1860 without the support of a single Southern state. Southerners believed he and his party were bent on ending slavery. Historians will never cease to debate exactly what Lincoln wanted to do about slavery and when he wanted to do it, but several points are clear: he was morally opposed to the institution; he resolutely opposed its expansion into the West; he believed it would die out if confined to its current borders; he believed Congress, not the president, had the constitutional right to end it; and he entered the war to preserve the Union, not to end slavery.
Ironically, Southern fears that Lincoln would abolish slavery proved true, but only after a combination of developments, starting with the South’s secession and attack on Fort Sumter. Slaves themselves forced the Union’s hand when they fled to Federal lines at every opportunity, hoping for freedom. The Union’s response ranged from returning them to their masters to on-the-spot emancipation. Generals John C. Frémont (August 1861) and David Hunter (May 1862) independently declared emancipation in areas of the South under their respective commands. Lincoln is still criticized for reversing their orders, but his reasons were clear. He believed that such decisions at the time hurt the overall war effort: Northerners were not ready for emancipation, and the loyalty of the crucial border states, including Kentucky, was not yet assured. Further, he thought that such decisions belonged to the commander-in-chief. Over the course of the war, Lincoln saw the practical benefits of emancipation: employing black laborers and soldiers, harming the Confederate war effort, and appealing to antislavery European governments that otherwise would have supported the Confederacy for economic reasons.
The question of slavery’s role in bringing on the Civil War has provoked one of the most vehement debates in American history. Many Southerners then and now argue that Confederates went to war not to defend slavery but to protect states’ rights, which they saw as being threatened by the federal government. However, from the founding of the nation through the outbreak of war, recurrent clashes over states’ rights mainly concerned the protection of slavery, and the framers of secession understood this. Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens called slavery the “cornerstone” of the Confederacy. The Confederate Constitution’s only major revision of the U.S. Constitution concerned slavery: “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed” (Article I, Section 9). In all new territory, “the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the territorial government” (Article IV, Section 3).
The “peculiar institution” dominated Southern politics and the Southern economy. Wealthy slaveholders formed the majority of state and national legislators, and slaves were crucial to both the agricultural and industrial labor forces. In addition to the slaveholding class, many white Southerners whose names were never entered in the census as slave-owners regularly depended on hiring or borrowing slaves. Moreover, most white Southerners feared the potential social consequences of emancipation, predicting everything from crime waves to the loss of their cheap labor force to black demands for citizenship. The threat of ending slavery therefore posed a significant threat to the wealthy and commoners alike, a total reordering of Southern society. Southerners of the time might well have been surprised by modern descendants who dismiss that fact.
In a telling measure of slavery’s importance to both sides during the war, the Confederacy debated emancipation as well. Slavery caused class tensions even within the Southern union, notably when a law exempted owners of twenty or more slaves from the draft. But the major issue forcing the South to consider freeing slaves was the need for soldiers. As the Confederacy’s fortunes grew more desperate in the second half of the war, Southerners debated arming slaves, with emancipation and land as potential rewards. The proposal even attracted Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. However, the concept of arming black men, and rewarding them with freedom for themselves and their families, was too fundamental a challenge to Southern ideas of manhood, citizenship, and race.
In ending slavery, America took its place in a worldwide movement that began in the late eighteenth century. Western European nations first abolished the slave trade – though enforcement was usually weak – and then slavery itself, out of a combination of economic inducements (such as the Industrial Revolution, which created a market for wage labor) and ideological arguments. As early as 1794, during the French Revolution, France abolished slavery in its American colonies. Britain ended the slave trade in 1807, and abolished slavery in all of its colonies in 1833. In 1861, Russia emancipation its serfs, and in 1863, the Netherlands abolished slavery in its colonies. By the middle of the nineteenth century, industrializing nations formed a consensus that slavery had no economic or social place in their future.
In antebellum America, many Northerners reached the same conclusion, but focused their efforts on keeping slavery out of new territories in the West, believing that slavery would eventually die out if confined to its current borders. The Civil War was the necessary catalyst for more direct action.
A Census of Manuscript Copies of the Thirteenth Amendment Signed by Lincoln
National Archives, Washington, D.C. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin and Colfax. The official record copy of the resolution of both Houses of Congress effective on January 31, 1865, with its passage by the House. (unique type)
University of Delaware, Newark, DE. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax, Forney and McPherson.
Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax and Forney.
David Rubenstein. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax and Forney. Speaker of the House Colfax’s copy.
The present example. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax and 36 Senators.
Lincoln Financial Collection, Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, IN. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax and 36 Senators.
De Paul Library, St. Mary College, Leavenworth, KS. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax, and 36 Senators. With 1870 presentation from John P. Usher, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Interior, to the Governor of Indiana.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection at The New-York Historical Society, New York, NY. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax, Forney and McPherson, 38 Senators and 114 Representatives.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin and Colfax, and 141 members of Congress.
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax, Forney and McPherson, 36 Senators and 109 Representatives.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax, Forney and McPherson, 37 Senators and 120 Representatives (including 3 duplicate signatures).
The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax and Forney, 36 Senators and 110 Representatives.
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax and McPherson, 37 Senators and 116 Representatives.
Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, N.Y. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax and McPherson, and various Senators and Representatives
Private Collector. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax, Forney and McPherson, 37 Senators and 114 Representatives.
Private Collector. Signed by Lincoln, Hamlin, Colfax and Forney, 36 Senators and 110 Representatives.
N.B.Additional copies signed by various officials exist, some of which bear Lincoln’s name but not his genuine signature, including examples in the Chicago Historical Society and the Lilly Library. $2,410,000.
Abraham Lincoln, as sixteenth President
THE “AUTHORIZED EDITION” OF THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, SIGNED BY PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN
“By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation. Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States … ‘That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free’; … I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do … order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. … And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God. … Done at the City of Washington this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.”
Printed broadside document (16 1/4 x 9 1/2 in.; 411 x 235 mm), single column, 52 lines and headline, signed by President Lincoln (“Abraham Lincoln”), countersigned by the Secretary of State (“William H. Seward”) and by the President’s Private Secretary (“Jno. G. Nicolay”), who certifies that this printing of the Emancipation Proclamation is “A true copy, with autograph signatures of the President and the Secretary of State.” [Philadelphia: Printed by Frederick Leypoldt for George Henry Boker and Charles Godfrey Leland to benefit the United States Sanitary Commission, June 1864]; several inches of blank margin trimmed from the original sheet, mat burn at edges just touching the Nicolay signature but not affecting text or Lincoln and Seward’s signatures, a few small and light foxing spots. $2,170,000.
Many people collect primary source material in the form of letters and manuscripts. These artifacts usually provide a great deal of insight into the events of the time. As an added bonus, they tend to be quite affordable. We picture what can only be called an “extortion” letter written on July 8, 1860 to Stephen A. Douglas. The writer, G. W. Carskadden, claimed to be a delegate to the upcoming Democratic State Convention to be held in Reading. Citing poverty, he asked Senator Douglas to send him some funds prior to his departure for the conclave. He promised to return the favor by selecting delegates to the Charleston National Convention who would support Douglas in his quest for the presidential nomination. We would have expected a letter of this type to be destroyed (or held for evidence), but it was apparently saved, for reasons unknown. It sold for a most reasonable $41 on eBay.
Heritage Auctions held a sale on May 14th that had a wide assortment of Lincoln-related items. We must note that political cartoons are doing quite well and are outpacing other types of collectibles. One example of that is the anti-Lincoln Currier & Ives print titled “An Heir to the Throne”. It is definitely racist in tone and subject matter. It sold for $6,875.
Another racist cartoon issued four years later by Bromley & Company is titled “The Abolition Catastrophe”. Bromley seemed to have specialized in anti-Republican imprints and large folio cartoons in the 1864 and 1868 general elections. This example realized $1,625.
Heritage has sold an assortment of material owned by Gideon Welles and consigned by descendants. His personal watch fob seal depicting the family crest achieved $2,750. We believe other Welles material is still privately held and may come on the market at some point in time.
A 10 1/2” x 16” Douglas campaign flag, an unusual variety, nicely framed, made expectations, selling for $7,812.
An 11″ tall desk-top bronze of Douglas made by 20th century artist Lily Tolpo, on the other hand, did much better than expected, trading hands for $2,000. Heritage’s next sale will be the “Lincoln & His Times” specialty auction, scheduled for September 16th. It is co-sponsored by Heritage and “The Railsplitter” in commemoration of 20 years of publishing “The Railsplitter” journal. For those of you who miss the old “Railsplitter” auctions, here’s your chance to “get a second bite at the apple.”
Gene Dillman of Louisburg, NC, d.b.a. Old Politicals, held an auction on April 27th. The standout piece was a 12” x 8” Lincoln portrait flag from 1860. It was in excellent condition. We think it might be the same one that George Rinhart sold in 1982 or 1983 through Brian Riba, realizing $7,000. This time around, it changed hands for $55,563. Better than money in the bank!
Freeman’s in Philadelphia held a sale on April 19th. A collection of phrenology items was included. A 27″ x 41″ matted and framed broadside advertising lectures by Dr. J. P. McLean caught our eye. The illustrations included Lincoln and several Union generals, leading us to the conclusion that this was printed circa 1864-1865. Estimated $1,000-$1,500, it made a “measured” $1,500.
Wooten & Wooten of Camden, South Carolina held a sale on April 9th. The main item of interest was a life-size bust of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. Made of Italian marble, it measured 25″ high and 17″ across. It was attributed to Kentuckian Joel Tanner Hart (1810-1877) who made similar busts of Henry Clay, Cassius M. Clay, John J. Crittenden and Andrew Jackson. Given the youthful features and Tanner’s history, it was likely produced circa 1850-1855. It sold for $7,800. It may not have done as well in a Northern venue, but the good ol’ boys were gung ho. Their motto: “Stephens or Bust!”
A decent example of the Rogers group “The Council of War” sold on eBay in March for $2,300. There are three variations of this piece, all produced circa 1868. In the past, examples of this title have sold in the $600-$6,000 range. Obviously, the market for these has declined, but $2,300 seems to be a fair price.
In Sotheby’s January 2016 Americana Sale, we noticed one piece of Lincolniana whose final price ($187,500) astounded us. It looks like he’s missing the bottom part of his right arm or, as Ronald Reagan exclaimed in “King’s Row”… “Where’s the rest of me?!” We print the catalog description below:
FRANK PIERSON RICHARDS
Carved and painted pine standing figure
32 1/4 by 96 by 16 in.
Peter Tillou, Litchfield, Connecticut;
Sotheby’s, New York, The American Folk Art Collection of Howard and Catherine Feldman, June 23, 1988, lot 135;
Christie’s, New York, Fine American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver and Prints, May 23, 2006, lot 168;
Allan Katz, Woodbridge, Connecticut
New York, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Flowering of American Folk Art, February-March, 1974, also traveled to Richmond, Virginia Museum, April-June 1974 and San Francisco, M.H. deYoung Memorial Museum, June-September, 1974
Jean Lipman and Alice Winchester, The Flowering of American Folk Art (New York: Viking Press, 1974), p. 123, fig. 164
Frank Pierson Richards (1852–1929) was an Illinois farmer, carver, and inventor. According to the Illinois State Museum, which owns an ornate decorative mantel and screen he carved for his home as well as carvings of George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant on horseback, one of his inventions was “a model aircraft powered by a rubber band, which he flew off the top of a downtown building,” allegedly before the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. In his later years, Richards displayed the mantel, screen, and several carved patriotic figures in front of his house in Springfield every Fourth of July so that passing paraders could see them. His work also was displayed at the Illinois State Fair in 1920, where it won several blue ribbons. Another Richards carving of Grant is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.
This unique figure of Abraham Lincoln was inspired by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ monumental statue Abraham Lincoln: The Man, which depicts a thoughtful Lincoln standing in front of an elaborately carved chair, about to begin a speech. The original statue was unveiled in Lincoln Park in Chicago in 1887, while later full-size replicas are displayed in Springfield, Illinois; London; and Mexico City, and smaller replicas made after Saint-Gaudens’ death are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Harvard Art Museums, the Newark Museum, and the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.
Bob Raynor’s H.C.A. auction offered an item that caught our attention in March… this train schedule: “Hudson River Railroad, Special Time Table for FUNERAL TRAIN of our late President ABRAHAM LINCOLN on Tuesday, April 25th 1865.” 4pp., earlier paper clip stain, professional restored tear. The two interior pages are mourning ruled and provide the 29 arrival times for the train which ‘Leaves New York (29th Street)… 4:00P.M…. Arrives East Albany 10:55 P.M.’ The 3rd page provides instruction such as ‘The Train will run at a slow rate of speed through all towns and villages…’ The funeral train would ultimately travel, with the body of Lincoln, from Washington D.C. to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. The line opened in 1849 and lasted independently for 20 years before merging with the New York Central Railroad to form the New York Central Hudson River Railroad Company in 1869.” With buyer’s premium, $3,630.
Heritage Auctions held an auction on February 27th that consisted exclusively of items from the Merrill C. Berman Collection. This was the fourth and final installment of the $2M+ collection. Only some modestly priced items remain to be sold in a March Rare Book internet only sale. A tall Lincoln & Hamlin jugate ribbon on pink silk, one of two known examples, sold for $11,562.
An oval Lincoln belt buckle ferrotype with added stickpin realized $4,875.
A five-pointed star ferrotype stickpin, dated 1864, made $6,250.
A perpetual calendar with Cooper Union portrait, with faults, sold reasonably for $2,125. We know of only three examples extant.
A most unusual Breckinridge ribbon, recycled from an 1856 Buchanan ribbon, was problematic in our eyes, as the bleed-through from the other side was quite distracting. Still, it’s the only one known. $3,000.
A complete set of jugate Brady ribbons from 1860 was offered individually, including the prohibitively rare Douglas & Johnson. Not surprisingly, it sold for the most… $37,500, twice the amount that two examples have sold for privately in the recent past. The total for the complete set was a mind-boggling $80,000! The Lincoln & Hamlin which shows up fairly regularly wasn’t too far behind, making a record $22,500. It typically sells in the $8,000-$10,000 range.
Roland’s Auctions in New York City sold the first installment of the Dr. Alan York Collection of Political Americana on February 19th. Dr. York was an East Hampton optometrist who collected coins, medals, currency and historical Americana for many decades prior to his recent passing. This installment contained items from Washington to Lincoln, with a strong emphasis on ephemera. Well-advertised, there were few bargains to be had. The allure of material “fresh to the market” was too much for many collectors to resist. A previously unseen small folio print of the Wigwam in Chicago, published by McNally & Company, required $1,875 in wampum to seal the deal.
A Currier & Ives cartoon, “Political ‘Blondins’ Crossing Salt River”, is one of the more desirable examples from the series, favoring the Constitutional Union candidates, Bell & Everett. A unique hand-colored specimen is known to exist, but this was the standard black & white version. It realized $5,000.
A group of three cigar box labels for “Honest Abe” cigars made $1,000. It is hard to date these with any precision. They may have been produced in 1860 or 1870… no way to tell. We understand they were issued by a New York cigar manufacturer who placed a false Havana imprint on them to fool consumers into thinking they were buying a superior and more costly product.
A Stephen Douglas portrait flag went as expected, crossing the block for $18,750.
The sale included the complete set of 1860 Grand National Banners, including the two most elusive ones, Breckinridge & Lane and Bell & Everett, both in outstanding condition with lavishly applied, vibrant colors. The Breckinridge sold for $13,750 while the Bell made $12,500, neither a record price, but quite respectable nonetheless.
A Bell & Everett songster, the only Bell songster known, found a new owner for $1,375. An inscription on the front cover indicates it was presented to noted Civil War era historian Benson Lossing.
Swann Galleries in New York held a sale on February 4th. A 12″ x 15″ 1864 election cartoon titled “How Free Ballot Is Protected!” shows a polling scene where a stereotypical Black soldier attempts to coerce a disabled Union soldier from casting his ballot for McClellan. Polling place officials decide not to interfere. It apparently saw use as a “point of purchase” advertisement for the establishment selling the cartoon. The original price of 15 cents has been discounted to 10 cents. The publisher is unknown. It sold for $1,375.
A fine copy of a second state version of the Booth Reward Broadside, measuring 12 1/2″ x 24″ realized $37,750.
The Rare Book Department at Heritage Auctions in Dallas holds weekly internet-only sales where the opening bids are $1. In spite of that, very little falls between the cracks. Copies of our namesake newspaper, “The Railsplitter”, were offered in consecutive sales. The first example made $1,500. It had a neat cover cartoon showing Douglas performing an equestrian circus act, trying to balance himself on horses labelled Dred Scott and Popular Sovereignty. The next example had a cartoon showing Douglas in the role of Macbeth. It sold for $2,375, although we think the first example was the better of the two. Will there be more of the same in the weeks to come? Stay tuned.
George McClellan ran for Governor of New Jersey in 1877 and was elected, serving a single term. A ballot from that election was offered on eBay and sold for $54. It is the first example we have seen.
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