In the Marketplace: 2017

Antique Associates of West Townsend, Massachusetts, a wonderful dealer cooperative run by David Hillier, is currently offering:
Abraham Lincoln: 18.75” Carving, Standing Figure attributed to Frank Pierson Richards (1852 to 1929).
Rochester and Springfield, Illinois. The carver was a farmer who spent evenings carving figures. A group of his works may be seen within the permanent collection of the Illinois State Museum. Another carving is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

Carved and painted pine Base inscribed – PRESIDENT 1861-1864 ABE – L 1809-1865.

See The Flowering of American Folk Art 1776-1876 by Jean Lipman and Alice Winchester, page 123, plate 164. See Sotheby’s, American Beauty, The American Folk Art Collection of Stephen and Petra Levin, New York, January 23, 2016; lot 1470. Also, Christies, May 23, 206, lot 135; and Sotheby’s, the Feldman sale, June 23, 1988, lot 135. $23,500.


An antique charcoal-fueled sad iron with a Lincoln “masthead” was offered on eBay with a starting bid of $99.95. In these days of wash-and-wear, no one had any use for it and it went unsold. It is now a sad, sad iron.


Profiles in History of Calabasas, California held an auction on June 8th. A check for $2000, signed by Edwin Booth and made payable to his brother, John Wilkes Booth, was endorsed by the assassin and “cashed in” for $15,000.

A John Wilkes Booth Reward broadside, the standard variety lacking photos, was a fine example and rewarded its consignor with a final bid of $37,500.

A decent example of the “Charleston Mercury” broadside announcing “The Union is Dissolved” matched expectations, realizing $23,750.

Finally, a James Buchanan ALS with “fabulous” content changed hands for $4062. We reprint most of the catalog description below:

Buchanan, James. Extraordinary autograph letter signed (“James Buchanan”), 4 pages (4.5 x 7.25 in.; 114 x 184 mm.), front and back on conjoined leaves, Wheatland, near Lancaster [Pennsylvania], 21 September 1861, written to General George W. Bowman. Toning on outermost edges and general soiling. Minor chipping with separations at folds (mainly vertical fold joining the leaves). Five months following the attack on Fort Sumter, James Buchanan defends his actions in the final days of his doomed Presidency.

“My Dear Sir, Your favor of the 17th instant has afforded me much gratification. I did receive the information to which you refer & apparently from direct quarters; but at the time I stated emphatically there must be some mistake & I did not believe it. Let that pass. I was perfectly convinced before your letter that you had not abused me, nor become a Black Republican. I had a hard time of it during my administration; but upon a careful review of all my conduct I should not change it in a single important important [sic] measure if this were now in my power. When the official documents & the facts come to be presented to the public, I entertain no apprehension as to what will be their verdict. On the one side I had been violently opposed by the Republicans from the beginning & on the other side the leading Secessionists were estranged from me from the date of my message on the 3 December & soon after when I returned the insolent letter of the South Carolina Commissioners to them unanswered all intercourse political or social between them & myself ceased. I was on the next day, or a day or two after, violently attacked in the Senate by Jefferson Davis & his followers & the letter which I had returned was submitted by him to that Body & published in the Congressional Globe. I pursued my own steady course from the beginning. The Charleston authorities were directly notified over & over again that if they attacked Fort Sumter I should consider this attack as the commencement of a civil war. I need scarcely say that I agree with you in approving ‘the active prosecution of the war by the Government’: I have never held any other language since the Confederates commenced it by the attack on Fort Sumter. It would probably have commenced early in January had the Senate confirmed my nomination of a Collector for the Port of Charleston….Your friend James Buchanan.”

Buchanan’s efforts to maintain peace between the North and the South alienated both sides, and the Southern states declared their secession in the prologue to the Civil War. Buchanan’s view of record was that secession was illegal, but that going to war to stop it was also illegal. Buchanan, first and foremost an attorney, was noted for his mantra, “I acknowledge no master but the law.” Given the dire state of affairs, Buchanan declined to seek a second term. Popular opinion had turned against him, and the Democratic Party had split in two. Buchanan had once aspired to a presidency that would rank in history with that of George Washington. However, his inability to impose peace on sharply divided partisans on the brink of the Civil War has led to his consistent ranking by historians as one of the worst Presidents. An exceptional letter exhibiting the circumstances facing the embattled President in his final days of office. Five weeks following Buchanan’s departure, the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter.


“Hicks in the Stix”. Blackwell Auctions of Clearwater, Florida held a sale on June 10th that included some art-related Lincolniana. A lithograph of Lincoln signed by artist Joseph DeCamp, published by Louis Prang in 1897, realized $1680. The portrait was copied by DeCamp from the beardless photograph taken by Preston Butler, with beard added. As it turns out, in the decades that followed, someone copied the DeCamp print to make a painting, signing it “T. Hicks”. This oil on canvas was owned by a New York collector who spent the last 30 years of his life trying to authenticate it as a work of Thomas Hicks. In the process, he collected anything related to the portrait, including letters from DeCamp to Prang, the lithographic stone used to print the DeCamp portrait and original photographs of Hicks, two of which were offered in the sale. Hicks did paint Lincoln from-life in 1860, that portrait currently housed in the collection of the Chicago History Museum. He did not, however, paint the portrait owned by the New York collector, despite his signature appearing on it.

A sixth plate daguerreotype of Hicks, together with a lock of Hicks’ hair, sold for $13,200.

A signed carte-de-visite of Hicks, with some faults, managed $3720.


An eBay vendor listed a nice pair of 1860 ferrotypes. We don’t know why they weren’t offered individually, but they still did alright, selling for $1712. These were acquired by a member of the “inner circle” who, as they say, was prepared to go higher. The brooch lacked the pin but, if you’re not going to wear it, who cares?


Cowan’s Auctions of Cincinnati held an “American History” sale on June 9th that included many items from the estate of noted Civil War dealer and author Norm Flayderman (mostly broadsides and pipes). A Salmon Chase ALS written on September 14, 1864, has great content as it discusses Chase’s support for the re-election of Abraham Lincoln. Chase’s presidential ambition is well-known, but he resigned as Secretary of the Treasury and would replace Roger Taney as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Still, his discontent is readily apparent in the text. In part: “Recently I fear that some folks have been saying that I would not support the Union nominee. You don’t need any assurance that I have said nothing to warrant any such sayings. I wish Mr. Lincoln and especially that some of his most trusted advisers were more in harmony with the sentiments of the great majority of Americans than they seem to be, but I have doubted that Mr. Lincoln’s heart is for Union and Nation and I answer that there is little or no hope for the principles and measures to which the best years of my life have been devoted… the sympathies of those who love their country should be with the Baltimore nominees…” $1920.

A 4 1/4” x 3 1/4” sheet of uncut campaign ferrotypes from 1860 was an unusual offering. This one had seventeen total or partial images of all the nominees. These were cut from the sheet and mounted in campaign medals or badges. Surprisingly, we have never seen a complete example of the finished product utilizing these portraits. $1080.

A 19” x 24” broadside by King & Baird of Philadelphia compares the statements of candidate McClellan with the Chicago Democratic platform of 1864. It deals with the issues of “Arbitrary Arrests” and “Interference with Elections”. Issued in both English and German versions, this rare German version realized $420.

A 6 1/2” x 8 3/4” Gardner albumen of the hanging of the conspirators, one of seven sequenced images, shows the hoods and nooses being adjusted prior to the “drop”. Affixed to a trimmed mount, it was estimated $3,000-$4,000 and sold for $3000.

Finally, a 27” x 41 1/2” broadside, printed in two colors, announced excursion tickets on the West Shore Railway to Grant’s funeral in New York on August 8, 1885. Rare, large and graphic, it made $1080.


An eBay vendor from Vermont got real lucky when he picked up a Lincoln & Johnson broadside at a yard sale/house clean-out in nearby Newport, New Hampshire. Measuring 16” x 22”, it was issued post-election, announcing a “Union Republican Levee!” to celebrate the result. With some missing pieces and loss, it attracted a great deal of attention and sold for a strong retail price $7788. Hmm, let’s see… what’s the current taxable rate for capital gains?


A 9” x 12” broadside issued at the time of the general election in 1860 announced the timetable for a special train leaving Boston for Woburn. The purpose of the added train was to gratify the need of some people to quickly determine the results of the election. Seems rather odd. They did have telegraphs back then. It would have been easier if the telegraph offices stayed open all night to transmit the results as they became known. Whatever! Listed on eBay under “railroad collectibles”, it brought $315.


Heritage Auctions held a sale on May 13th with a strong focus on “Washington and the Founding Fathers.” Still, no Heritage sale is complete without a fine assortment of Lincolniana. A 35” x 54” two-sided silk banner had a hand-painted portrait of Lincoln, titled “The Preserver of his Country”. The back side was inscribed “Malice toward None Charity to All”. It was likely produced after the inauguration on March 4, 1865 and as late as July 4, 1865. With some damp stains, but intact, it realized $9062. (Images: Heritage Auctions,

A small hand-painted wood box with portraits of “Abraham Lincoln” and “Andrew Johnson” on the lid, obviously copied from the Currier & Ives Grand National Union Banner for 1864, sold for $3500. It measured 8 3/4” x 6 1/4” x 3 1/4” and was found at a flea market in Pennsylvania.

 A Gardner CDV of Lincoln, taken on February 9, 1865, shocked everyone when it made a record $11,500. It’s one of our favorite poses of Lincoln and, apparently, several other people feel likewise.

A 3 3/4” x 6 1/4” pencil sketch by Pierre Morand, showing Lincoln resting comfortably in a chair at City Point, Virginia, changed hands for $6250. Morand used a from-life sketch by journalist Alfred Hunt to produce his more detailed version. A letter from Morand that accompanied the lot gave its history. It was a “from from-life sketch”.

Finally, a choice example of the large size Merriam token of Lincoln in copper, AL-1860-38, fetched a strong $1375. Several records were achieved at this sale.


Connoisseur Galleries of Bluffton, South Carolina had a sale on May 21st. A modern “masterpiece painting” of Lincoln was offered. Unframed, it measured 25” x 30” and was signed on the back “Kerin Master Portrait Artist schooled by Bianco”. We suspect this contemporary work was produced in Asia for export and, while extremely well-done, may be something of a commodity, all of which should be taken into account by any would-be purchaser. The sale included other presidential portraits of a similar nature and source. It sold on a single bid for $600.


Swann Galleries in New York City held a manuscripts sale on April 27th. A slightly “rough” cotton bandana (20” x 23”) featuring portraits of Washington and Lincoln, circa 1865, vastly exceeded expectations and sold for $5500. When it comes to display pieces of this vintage, it seems collectors are becoming increasingly tolerant of condition issues.


Another dealer in Downingtown offered a folk art hand-painted Civil War era canteen on eBay. It featured a portrait of Lincoln labeled “A.L.” with an eagle and steamers overhead. The Buy-It-Now price was $3,750, but the listing was ended early after a few days. Was it a period piece or not? Your call.


On May 1st, Pook & Pook of Downingtown, Pennsylvania had an online-only auction of modestly-valued antiques that included a pine pie safe with pierced tin panels. It measured 52” high and 41” across and had a later coat of blue paint. One front panel had the initials W.T.P. which the cataloger guessed meant “We The People”. One side panel had a profile portrait of a man who looked like Abraham Lincoln (maybe Mr. “W.T.P.?”) With a low starting bid of $200, it went out the pie-safe door for $750.


 A bronze face of Lincoln, done by Lorenzo E. Ghiglieri (b. 1931), was offered on eBay with a Buy-It-Now price of $2450. The sculptor is still active and produced a bronze statue of Lincoln & Tad displayed outside of City Hall in Kansas City, Missouri. The face weights nine pounds and has a wire loop for hanging.


While the market for CDVs has been soft in recent years, cartes-de-visite that detail some aspect of a presidential campaign remain robustly pursued. Al Anderson’s April 2017 auction included this wonderful 1864 caricature carte of a crying George McClellan whining “I will go the the White House” with a title “Will anything keep that child quiet?” Issued by Stephens of Pennsylvania, it realized $200.


“Young Abe Lincoln” by outside, self-taught, Kentucky artist Charlie Kinney (1912-1991). Paint and graphite on poster. Excellent condition. Image is 22″ wide x 28″ high. Frame is 31″ wide x 38″ high. Est. $800-$1200. Offered by Slotin Folk Art Auctions on April 29th, it realized $1062.


Duane Merrill & Company of Williston, Vermont held an estate sale on April 29th. It included some political items from the collection of Arthur Bingham of Vermont. The selection was very poor except for one phenomenal item, a hand-painted cotton banner from 1860, carried by members of the Keene, New Hampshire Wide Awake club. Beautifully-executed and in excellent condition, the two-sided banner measured a healthy 39” x 45”. Bidding was hot and heavy. It started at $2,000 and ended at $36,000 ($41,400). Purchased by a well-known dealer who hopes to flip it for $75,000.


A CDV of an Emancipation Proclamation stylized print, published by A. Kidder of Chicago in 1863, sold on eBay for $56. We’ve never seen the print or the CDV.


A stereo view of the “Landing at Lake Umbagog” in New Hampshire, offered on eBay, showed a small group of people awaiting the arrival of the side-wheel steamboat “Andrew Johnson”. Published by Kilgore of Littleton, New Hampshire, the rare view sold for $205. We suspect the steamboat had a short career, just like its namesake.


Wes Cowan held an internet only “timed” auction on March 23rd. A hand-colored 16” x 21” cartoon published by N. Bang Williams of Rhode Island caught our attention. Titled “Little Mac’s Double Feat of Equitation”, mounted on board with some tears, it still made a respectable $780. This equine motif may have been inspired by the then-popular opera “Mazeppa”.


A 3” x 5 1/4” tintype showing a Confederate sympathizer surfaced on eBay. The seated gentleman, wearing an outlandish hat, stares intently at the camera while holding a composing stick of wooden type in his lap that reads “Jeff Davis” (backwards). It probably read “Jeff Davis” (forwards) when typeset, but things appear backwards on tintypes. He may have been a printer, so this may be classified as an occupational tintype, as well as a partisan political artifact. A nice “go-with” for someone who collects broadsides, it was hotly contested and managed to make an imPRESSive $835.


An 8” carved gnarled branch or root was also listed on eBay and described as Abraham Lincoln. We tend to agree with the attribution, but don’t know its age or origin. At $99.95, no one was willing to go out on a limb.


An eBay vendor in Holland listed a 10” lidded jar with a handle that he said depicted Abraham Lincoln. Given the tall black hat, that could be. It also looks a little like Jeff Davis, or perhaps Uncle Sam dressed in formal attire for a night on-the-town. The starting bid was $225. More importantly, who exactly is it? And, what’s it doing in Holland?


A “Free Pass” to the “Constitutional Purifying Association” was offered on eBay. Not exactly a pass, but rather a illustrated, cartoon handbill, it measured 6″ x 9″. It was not dated and did not mention Lincoln specifically, but it did promise that those Copperheads who went through the purifying process would be able to “Vote for an Honest Man without prejudice.” It realized $245.


Normally, ballots for Congressional candidates don’t excite much interest. Such was not the case for this ballot issued on behalf of failed Democratic candidate Daniel M. Henry of Maryland for an election held on June 13, 1861. Henry was an anti-war, peace candidate in the early days of the Civil War and, like many Marylanders, felt an affinity to the South, hence the title: “Southern Rights Anti-Coercion Ticket”. A vocal minority of Americans felt that Lincoln had gone too far in using force to achieve a reunification of the Union. It sold for $405 on eBay.


A satin and metallic fringe ribbon worn by a member of the original Wide Awakes during the Blaine & Logan campaign of 1884 just sold on-line for $88. A nice “go-with” for your 1860 Wide Awake items.


In the “Mystery of the Wax Museum” category, three hundred people descended on Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on January 14, 2017 to bid on the contents of “The Hall of Presidents and First Ladies Museum” which has closed its doors after close to sixty years of continuous operation. This is a wax museum that housed life-sized figures of all 44 presidents and one-third scale figures of all the First Ladies dressed in their inaugural ball gowns. The figures were made by various artisans including Ivo Zini, Krenson Way Figure Studio of Missouri and Dorfman Museum Figures of Baltimore. Bidders came from as far away as Canada and a crew from the Stephen Colbert Show was on hand to film the event. The museum also included twenty murals by Charles Morganthaler showing the development of America, forty small folk art sculptures of the presidents and an extensive collection of Time-Life photos of Gettysburg resident Dwight D. Eisenhower. The sale was necessitated by rising operating costs and a decline in attendance. Owned by Gettysburg Heritage Enterprises, Inc. (Max Felty, President), the space will now be converted into offices. Static museums of this type no longer appeal to the younger generation who are more “hands-on”, preferring interactive, multi-media displays. The auctioneer was Randy Dickensheets of Pennsylvania On-Site Auction Company. The sale lasted seven hours and everything was sold “to the walls”. Not surprisingly, the top lot was the full size figure of Abraham Lincoln @$8500. His ardent Republican admirer, Theodore Roosevelt, was a close second @$8000. We anticipated a “melt down”, but apparently there’s a market for this stuff, creepy as it is!


An Alexander Gardner CDV showing a seated Lincoln holding his eyeglasses and a newspaper did better than expected when it realized $2225 on eBay. There were multiple images taken at this photo session. All, for some reason, are somewhat light in tonality.


A stereo view of the U. S. Mint in Philadelphia draped in mourning at the time of Lincoln’s assassination was offered on eBay and sold for $168. We have never seen it before. As the photo was taken, a boy is seen walking down the sidewalk apparently carrying an ogee shelf clock.


 A vendor from Mechanicsville, Virginia recently offered a collection of early Confederate sheet music (circa 1861) that had belonged Mary Belle Pilcher of Bleake Hill, Henrico County, Virginia. After the war, she married a former Confederate soldier, Johh H. Worsham, who had served under Stonewall Jackson. The most interesting one was the “Abe-iad” (referencing the columbiad cannon). It shows a seven-star First National flag and a rebel soldier shooting a cannon at a fleeing “Honest Abe” wearing the Scottish disguise he purportedly employed while passing through Baltimore en route to the inauguration. It sold for $1605, despite staining and separation of the pages.

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