In the Marketplace: 2017


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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