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Marketplace 2012

January 4, 2012

Heritage Auctions of Dallas held their semi-annual Political/Historical auction on December 11th. It included a large assortment of Lincolniana. The most expensive political lot, not unexpectedly, was a Lincoln & Johnson ferrotype jugate, one of a handful of examples known. It was in great condition with the original photos. It sold within estimate for $56,762 to a long-time, sophisticated collector of presidential campaign items.

A leather jerkin used by John Wilkes Booth in a variety of stage roles was an interesting lot which included Dr. John Lattimer in its provenance. Most personal articles associated with the assassin were destroyed after the events of April 14th. This rare survivor realized $10,157.

A 35″ x 33″ silk handkerchief, made in England circa 1862-1863, features a portrait of Jefferson Davis in the center, surrounded by Southern agricultural products and vignettes of eight CSA generals and statesmen, most notably Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Examples are known in purple and powder blue. Some years back, an example sold in a Mastronet sale for around $4,000. This one went over estimate for $8,365.

Finally, a 23″ x 18 1/2″ anti-Lincoln, racist broadside from 1864, shown on the cover of the catalog, made the high end of the estimate, crossing the block for $35,850. We know of one other example, ensconced in a New Jersey collection. The consignor purchased this one on eBay. It had been cut in two, but had been restored prior to its consignment. The purchaser was someone outside the hobby who has a particular interest in Lincoln and American political history. Perhaps he will become a major player in the field of Lincolniana.

We didn’t notice it at the time, but Treadway Toomey Galleries of Oak Park, Illinois held a “Twentieth-Century Art and Design” sale on September 15th. It included a piece that certainly did not fit that theme; namely a Clark Mills life mask of Lincoln. We reprint the catalog description:
Clark Mills (American, 1810-1883) “Abraham Lincoln,” 1865, plaster cast from the original plaster life mask, taken in the White House, Washington D.C., 1865, 11″ x 8″ x 7.5″, inscribed and dated. Provenance: Christie’s New York, February 12, 2009, Lot 38. Exhibited: Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois, 2010. “With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition.” This exhibition was sponsored by the Library of Congress. Lincoln sat for two life-masks, the most common and best known was taken in April 1860 by Leonard Volk in Chicago. The Mills mask, taken just two months before the assassination, is the only mask of presidential date, but is far less common than the Volk mask, which was reproduced in large numbers in later years. The Mills mask portrays the entire head of Lincoln, while Volk left the back of the head hollow.
The lot was estimated at $20,000-$30,000 and sold for $39,650. Contrary to the description, the Mills mask has been reproduced in large numbers in recent years and is offered on a regular basis on eBay for $50 or less. Those examples are made of resin and not signed. The Treadway example was made of plaster, signed and dated by Mills. Frankly, we are somewhat leery of both the Volk and Mills life masks and are ignorant of the diagnostics that differentiate between an original casting and a later one. According to Dan Weinberg of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, there are fifteen original castings known of the Mills life mask. Dan offers a newer bronze version of the life mask taken from an original plaster casting. The one thing we notice is that Dan’s third generation bronze has considerably more details than this “plaster cast from an original plaster life mask”. The Treadway piece lacks a highly-defined facial mole and the name of the subject is incomplete and the artist’s name barely readable. We would be more confident if the piece sold by Treadway had been accompanied by additional provenance. The fact that it sold at Christie’s in 2009 means little to us without this. In any event, we present it for what it’s worth.

A 7″ x 12″ finely-executed wooden plaque of Lincoln, featuring a beardless portrait in the half-round after Hesler’s photograph taken in the Spring of 1860, was offered on eBay. The vendor attributed it to the election of 1860. It had good age, but likely post-dated 1860. It was not signed, despite the high degree of skill involved in its making. Definitely a fine piece, regardless of its vintage, reflected in the final price of $1,605.

A CDV albumen portrait of a Wide Awake marcher, mounted on an album page, was offered on eBay. It depicts a young man wearing a kepi with the Wide Awake emblem of an eagle, a rain-proof cape or slicker and clutching a brass lantern with colored glass globe.The seller speculated that it might be a Lincoln Wide Awake marcher from 1860 and described the lantern as being red. Very possible. The captains in the Wide Awakes carried red lanterns… the lieutenants carried blue lanterns. He is one or the other. What struck us was the fact that the subject is quite young, possibly not of voting age. The organization contained many young people who, we assume, supported Republican candidates for the remainder of their lives. The same seller also listed another page from the same album containing an albumen photo of an unidentified man and an oval albumen of a beardless Lincoln, after the Roderick Cole portrait. That fact is just further confirmation that the uniformed marcher is, indeed, a Lincoln Wide Awake marcher from 1860. The vendor lives in Wisconsin which, assuming a similar origin for the album, further buttresses his claim. It sold for $410.

An oversized Douglas ballot from Massachusetts sold for $510 on eBay. It is supposed to be titled “Ward Three Democratic Ticket” but a typo occurred so that it actually reads “Ward Thhee Democratic Ticket”. The illustration shows a voter depositing a “Douglas and Johnson” ballot into the ballot box. Previously unknown, it is a prize for the ballot collector.

An 1868 Grant campaign ribbon printed in blue and red was offered on eBay. We believe it was issued by the same New York firm that produced the Seymour & Blair jugate ribbon proclaiming “This is a White Man’s Government: Let White Men Rule”. This Republican counterpart likewise had a compelling slogan, urging voters to preserve the achievement of the Civil War by not returning pro-Southern politicians to power. In mint condition, it sold for $888.

Wes Cowan had an auction on December 7th that included twenty-one lots that were consigned by descendants of Hannibal Hamlin. The collection included two 1860 letters from Lincoln to his Vice Presidential running mate, Hamlin’s official notification of his election as Vice President, various official documents and appointments, an assortment of 1860 campaign buttons and a military commission for Hamlin’s son, Charles, signed by President Lincoln. We reprint excerpts from the catalog descriptions of the three top lots:

Lot 110. IMPORTANT ABRAHAM LINCOLN LETTER INTRODUCING HIMSELF TO HIS FIRST VICE PRESIDENT, HANNIBAL HAMLIN, 18 JULY 1860 (EST $25.000 – $35.000). Springfield, Ill., July 18, 1860. 1p., Lincoln’s signature clipped & lacking. There is hardly a more thankless job in the world than Vice President of the U.S., but consider the case of Hannibal Hamlin. With experience as a Congressman, Senator, and Governor of his native state of Maine, and strong antislavery credentials, Hamlin was famously elevated to the Republican ticket in 1860 without ever having met his running mate, Abraham Lincoln. Strategically, Hamlin’s eastern base provided balance for Lincoln’s western, but in most ways, the match proved a failure. Hamlin never figured into Lincoln’s inner circle. Even by the low standards of the Vice Presidency, he was an irrelevancy, referring to his own position in the administration as a ‘nullity.’ More radical than Lincoln on abolishing slavery and arming freed slaves, Hamlin became something of a liability when Lincoln was re-nominated in 1864, and strategically, he was jettisoned to be replaced by a conservative southerner, Andrew Johnson [editor’s note: his conservatism only surfaced after he became President]. Hamlin remained in politics, however, serving two terms in the U.S. Senate. This highly important letter dates from a few weeks after the Convention at which Lincoln and Hamlin were thrown together. It reads:

My dear Sir, It appears to me that you and I ought to be acquainted; and, accordingly, I write this as a sort of introduction of myself to you. You first entered the Senate during the single term I was a member of the H.R.; but I have no recollection that we were introduced — I shall be pleased to receive a line from you. — The prospect of Republican success now appears very flattering so far as I can perceive — Do you see anything to the contrary?

This letter is published in Basler (IV:84), who quoted it from Nicolay and Hay. Basler records Hamlin as responding on July 23 stating that he believed they had been introduced and assuring Lincoln he would do everything possible to carry Maine. Lincoln and Hamlin did not meet in person until after they won the election. Lincoln purportedly asked Hamlin for advice on choosing cabinet members, but after taking office, and with the outbreak of the Civil War, Hamlin had almost no role in the administration, a typical scenario in this period. As Vice President, Hamlin missed being part of the political process but felt it was his duty to serve. He despised his new position as Vice President. He found presiding over the Senate boring, and was frequently absent. When the Republican Party dropped him from the ticket in 1864, Hamlin was surprisingly disappointed.

Lot 111. ABRAHAM LINCOLN ALS TO HANNIBAL HAMLIN, 4 SEPTEMBER 1860, EMPHASIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF WINNING MAINE IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION (EST $70,000 – $80,000). Springfield, Ill., Sept. 4, 1860. 2pp. To say that Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin were not close is a bit of an understatement, but this extraordinary letter from the future president to his future vice president suggests that they tried, at least, to get on the same page during the run for office. With the promise of a close election, Lincoln was counting on Hamlin, a veteran politician, to deliver the East, and particularly his home state, Maine. Two months before election day, Lincoln heard scuttlebutt from political allies that Hamlin was spreading gloomy news about the East. In a fit of pique, he took to the pen:
“I am annoyed some by a letter from a friend in Chicago, in which the following passage occurs: ‘Hamlin has written Colfax that two members of Congress will, he fears, be lost in Maine — the 1st & 6th Dist.; and that Washburn’s maj. for Gov. will not exceed 6000.’ — I have heard something like this six weeks ago, but had been assured since that it was not so — Your Secretary of State — Mr. Smith, I think — whom you introduced to me by letter gave this assurance; more recently, Mr. Fessenden, our candidate for Congress in one of those Districts, wrote a relative here that his election was sure by at least 500 — and that Washburn’s maj. only would be from 14000 to 17000; and still later, Mr. Fogg of N.H. now at N. York, serving on a national committee, wrote me that we were having a desperate fight in Maine, which would end in a splendid victory for us. — Such a result as you seem to have predicted in Maine, in your letter to Colfax, would, I fear, put us on the down-hill tack, lose in the state elections in Penn. & Indiana, and probably ruin us on the main turn in November. You must not allow it.”
So much smoke and mirrors. Hamlin replied to his running-mate on Sept. 8 claiming that he had not written to Schuyler Colfax — an influential Indiana politician and future Vice President in his own right — or to anyone else about the matter, but did fear that two seats might be lost because the margin in the previous election had been so close. Hamlin’s relations with his fellow Mainer, William Pitt Fessenden, were complicated: as a young lawyer, he clerked for Fessenden’s father, but their relationship grew so testy that when Fessenden stepped down as Sec. of the Treasury in 1865, he took up a seat in the Senate to prevent Hamlin from taking the office. The letter is published in Basler (IV: 110), who quoted it from Nicolay and Hay.

Lot 112. HANNIBAL HAMLIN’S CERTIFICATION AS VICE PRESIDENT (EST $5,000 – $7,000). Partially printed document signed. 1p, 16 x 22 in., on ruled vellum, entirely in manuscript hand, with large white seal affixed lower left, featuring three classical feminine figures with eagle overhead. Washington, February 13, 1861.
“Be it known, That the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, being convened at the City of Washington, on the second Wednesday of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, the underwritten President of the Senate, did, in the presence of the said Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and count all the votes of the Electors for a President and for a Vice-President of the United States; whereupon it appeared that Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, had a majority of votes of the Electors as Vice President of the United States, agreeably to the Constitution, for four years, to commence on the fourth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one.”
Signed by John C. Breckinridge, President of the Senate, and Asbury Dickens, Secretary.”
Many of the lots pertained to Charles Hamlin, Vice-President Hamlin’s son. We would be remiss if we did not include some background information on the young Down-Easter. Per the Cowan catalog: “Charles Hamlin (1837-1911) was as prepared to enter military service as any Unionist in the north. A faithful soldier throughout, Hamlin was rewarded with a brevet promotion to Brigadier General of Volunteers at the end of the war. Hamlin, along with his sister, Sarah, was at Ford’s Theater on the night of Lincoln’s assassination. Following the war, he returned to his home in Bangor, Maine, becoming a City Solicitor in 1867. In 1883 and 1885, Hamlin served terms in the Maine House of Representatives, becoming the Speaker during his second term. He also served as president of the Eastern Maine General Hospital. Hamlin died in 1911, at the age of 72, and he is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor, Maine.”
The three lots sold for $23,500, $70,500 and $7,050 respectively.

Bonham’s in New York held a manuscript sale on December that included a Lincoln relic with an estimate of $15,000-$25,000. The catalog description describes it thusly:
“2 pen nibs used by Lincoln as President, 44 x 6 mm., mounted to letter of provenance, one nib engraved ‘A. Sommerville & Co’s / Lincoln Pen’ surmounting a maker’s mark and an American shield, rust to tines of one nib, framed. Provenance: Mary Todd Lincoln to Samuel T. Atwater to A.E. Stone to Swinburn (letter of provenance). AN UNUSUAL LINCOLN RELIC. The letter of provenance reads, in full: ‘Will Dr. Swinburn accept these little mementos of our lamented President Lincoln? I have taken them from a box which was in use by him at the time of his death at his private secretary and given by Mrs. Lincoln to her friend and mine Mr. Samuel T. Atwater of this city from whom I received them about two years since. A.E. Stone Chicago June 23 1868.’ Samuel T. Atwater was a successful Chicago insurance agent and an associate of President Lincoln. His wife, Elizabeth Emerson Atwater – a dedicated collector whose mineralogical specimens formed part of the collection at the Chicago Academy of Sciences – was a friend of Mary Todd Lincoln, from whom she once received a decorative photo album as a New Year’s gift. (See ‘Correspondence of Elizabeth Atwater and G. W. Clinton.’ Missouri Botanical Garden. Ed. P.M Eckel. N.p., 6 Aug. 2003. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.)” Beyond the overly-optimistic estimate, we question whether this brand of pen was actually used during Lincoln’s lifetime or was produced after his death. An eBay vendor in South America apparently has a supply of these Sommerville “Lincoln pens” and is listing unopened boxes of them at opening bids of $50. Also, even if you accept the story, there is no way to ascertain whether Lincoln actually used these nibs or had intentions of using them. They seem vaguely familiar to us and we suspect they are recycled ‘merch”. No one was willing to write a check for these and they remain unsold.

A rare Jeff Davis ribbon appeared on eBay. It likely was issued early in the war as there are only eight stars. It was glued at the top to a backing board and had some loss along the upper right edge. The temptation exists to trim off the top, but that would have left only a small border. We are aware of only two other examples. One of those is in the DeWitt Collection and the other one, in a private collection, has light damp stains over 90% of the ribbon. This example, even with the faults mentioned, sold for $3,282.

An gold & silver dealer from Maine recently purchased a previously unknown Stephen Douglas ambrotype badge, possibly from a walk-in client. After researching it through an inquiry to a major auction house, he listed it on eBay with a starting bid of $29,999. The photograph was an actual ambrotype… a copy image of a salt print. This was obvious when the piece was disassembled and you could see the original subject: an oval print affixed to a larger mount. This was hidden once the ambrotype was reassembled. Despite being told a reasonable estimate was $12,000-$15,000, he likely saw examples of the Lincoln ambrotype that sold on Mastronet for $30,000 and based his starting bid on that. There’s some logic to that, but those days are gone! There’s also logic to the fact that the piece did not sell for this unrealistic price. We guess it goes back in the vault.

A gem tintype of John Wilkes Booth, affixed to a paper CDV mount, was a hit with eBay enthusiasts, selling for a strong $548.

An eBay vendor offered this unusual CDV titled “The Last Grasp” for a Buy-It-Now price of $275. It was likely issued towards the close of the war and prior to Lincoln’s assassination. It would make a nice addition to someone’s grab bag.

Freeman’s of Philadelphia held an auction on November 13th. We spotted three interesting Lincoln items. One was a 12″ parian ware bust by Martin Milmore. The second was a 33″ folk art sculpture made by Kent Gutzmer of South Dakota in the year 2000. The third was a small watercolor on “ivorine” described as “American School 19th century.” The trio realized $1,800, $5,400 and $1,920 respectively.

An eBay seller offered two Lincoln items of note for Buy-It-Now or Best Offer prices. Both were obtained from the estate of a Hackettstown, New Jersey book dealer who worked in New York City in the 1970s. These were from his personal collection. One was a “Lincoln & Johnson” banner measuring 27″ x 139″ (close to twelve feet long). The price was $22,000. The other was a 26 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ Lincoln & Johnson flag, recycled from a Bell & Everett flag from 1860. The price on that one was $32,000. These prices seemed aggressive to us, but maybe there is some “wiggle room”.

An eBay vender listed a very unusual Bryan dollar from 1896 that featured a quote on the propriety of changing the basis for the repayment of bonds and other public debts after they had been contracted for. We had never seen it before and it is unlisted in both Shornstein in Zerbe. It sold for a very reasonable $193. Bryan sought to validate his policies by dredging up remarks made by the venerable Lincoln.

An eBay vendor just sold this lovely 1864 campaign badge with flag and eagle hanger. The condition was outstanding and the piece was “right as rain”. It realized $909.

Crocker Farms of Sparks, Maryland held a stoneware auction November 3rd that included a rather odd-ball item. We reprint their catalog description:
“Very Rare Salt-Glazed Stoneware Abraham Lincoln Death Mask with Cold-Painted Surface, Signed in Paint on Reverse ‘Anna Pottery / 1877,’ Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick, Anna, IL, 1877, large-sized, wheel-thrown bust, hand-modeled in the form of Abraham Lincoln with hand-incised hair, teeth, and facial details, the surface covered in a light salt glaze, and painted after the firing. Two holes carved at the base of the bust barely penetrate through to the interior, but may have been designed to attach the bust to a cloth body, as one would do with ceramic doll heads of the period. Additional vent holes carved in nostrils and recessed carved into ears. An original carved circular opening on the top of the head may have ensured the piece would not break during the firing. A Lincoln-style top hat made of cloth or beaver skin may have been used atop the figure’s head. A small number of Anna Pottery Lincoln death masks have survived, although their exact purpose has yet to be determined. They were no doubt modeled after the famous plaster face casts made of Lincoln during his life and the autopsy after his death. An exceptional folk art sculpture with American historical significance. To our knowledge, this example is the first of its kind to cross the auction block in several years. Provenance: Recently found in California among items which descended in a Midwestern family. An 1981 letter written to the previous owner by noted collector and scholar, Gary Stass, verified it as a product of the Kirkpatrick brothers of Anna, Illinois. Excellent condition. H 13 3/4”. Est. $3,000-$5,000″ It sold for $4,600.

Kaminski Auctions of Beverly, Massachusetts had a vintage photography auction on October 3rd. There were a handful of Lincoln-related lots. A Hill’s Patent chess or checkerboard had portraits of politicians, such as Lincoln, Hamlin and Sam Houston, as well as literary figures. It was the small 9″ x 7″ size with some wear to the corners and marbled boards. Estimated at $4,000-$6,000, it failed to attract the opening bid of $2,000. There was also an outdoor photograph of President Lincoln raising the flag at Independence Hall on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1861. There are three views of this event, all taken by Frederick DeBourg Richards. This albumen photo was affixed to the original titled mount issued by T. S. Hacker of Philadelphia in 1865. The lot also included a signed engraving of Richards and a book he wrote in 1857. It had some fading and scattered ink spots, but just try to find another! Estimated at $5,500-$7,500, this ultra rare image sold for $7,500.

A California dealer listed a rather nice Stephen Douglas campaign ribbon on eBay with a Buy-It-Now price of $1,500, or Best Offer. A few offers were submitted (you guys are cheapskates!) before someone did the right thing and made the purchase at the full asking price. Hey, if you price things reasonably, you should get the business!

An 11″ bust of McClellan was just offered on eBay. It was unsigned and undated, but described by the seller as very heavy. More than likely, it was made of copper. The detail was really good and we could detect no seams. It made $228 which seems just about right.

eBay vendor “Walnutts” offered this Stephen Douglas pamphlet in an auction that ended September 24th. The 40-page pamphlet was the first separate printing of an article Douglas wrote for Harper’s Monthly. In it, he discussed at length his famous “Freeport Doctrine” that dealt with the necessity of local police powers supporting slavery in a locale; barring that support, slavery could not flourish, regardless of the state constitution. The inside cover featured an advertisement for an 1860 Douglas biography. It realized $285.

For direct sale from “A Bird in Hand Antiques” in Florham Park, New Jersey:
“Young Abe Lincoln” — polychrome on wood, circa 1890-1910, 18.25″ tall.
Asking price is $5,800.

In September, William Jenack of Chester, New York sold the program to the dedication of the Lincoln statue in Newark, New Jersey. Theodore Roosevelt, Lincoln’s greatest fan, attended and gave a short speech. He also signed the program for one of the attendees. It went for a reasonable $600 plus buyer’s premium.

This 31″ plaster, beardless bust of Lincoln signed by Max Bachman was offered on eBay by a Massachusetts vendor. He represented it as the unique inter-positive used in the “lost wax” method of casting bronze from which the molds used to make bronze statues are produced. Weighing around 35 pounds, it had a base with raised “buttons” which does not appear on the finished bronze. We note that Dan Weinberg of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago is currently offering a similar Bachman bearded bust with “terra cotta finish” for $7,000. This beardless one traded hands for considerably less, selling to $1,825. Maybe Dan bought it and can now offer the pair.

Offered by Jeffrey Tillou Antiques of Litchfield, Connecticut, a carved marble by Italian artist Pietro Barzanti (1842-1888), signed on verso “Pietro Barzanti, Florence.” Small areas on the lower portions of the jacket collar restored, 18 3/4″ tall x 17 1/4″ wide x 10″ deep. The asking price is $11,500. As they say in Italy… “atsa nice!

Bryan & Page Ginns of Valatie, NY had an online vintage photographica sale on September 15th. They offered a rather nice stereo view of Lincoln which they described as follows: “Rare, previously unknown stereoscopic portrait of President Lincoln. The image is slightly low in contrast, overall good to very good condition. There is some emulsion disturbance in the lower right of the right hand image. This appears to be Ostendorf 0-73. The side table indicates that this is an image by Alexander Gardner’s studio, circa 1863. The stereo effect is not great but it is definitely three dimensional, it suggests that the image was taken on a four tube CDV camera.” $5,225.

Garth’s in Delaware, Ohio held a Labor Day auction that included one Lincoln item. It was a 37″ x 47″ oil on canvas, unsigned and undated, but likely of 20th century vintage, depicting a seated Lincoln with a slave auction in the distant background. There was an anti-slavery quote by Lincoln inscribed on the back side along with the name S. Deeman. It crossed the auction block for $764. Given the size, that was a lot of Lincoln for the loot!

We’ve reported on this bogus Lincoln & Hamlin flag in previous hard copy issues. It may have some age to it, but definitely post-dates the election of 1860. A example was recently listed on eBay and converted to and sold as a Buy-It-Now after the vendor and a collector negotiated a price. Concurrently, the buyer and the vendor both contacted a major auction house and both were advised that the item was not of the period. The sale was cancelled and, a short time later, the item re-listed with no mention of its dubious origins. The vendor represented it as real and said it had been wrapped up in brown paper for safe keeping for the last one hundred years. That may well be true, but that only takes it back to 1912. There is a big difference between a Lincoln item produced circa 1912 and one produced in 1860. There were enough collectors willing to accept the story and representations so that the 8 1/2″ 5 1/2″ flag managed to sell for $1,225.

Fairfield Auctions of Monroe, CT held a sale on September 9th. It included a “killer” anti-Lincoln banner discovered folded up in the attic of an old New England family home. It measured 36″ x 49″ and was likely nailed to a wooden frame and carried on a bandwagon in a McClellan parade during the 1864 campaign. Titled “Abe’s Constitutional Telescope”, it depicts Lincoln peering through a telescope and seeing a black soldier. Obviously, his view of the Constitution was seen as unorthodox by the maker of this mint condition banner. Reasonably estimated at $8,000-$12,000, it realized $36,800. It sold to a local Civil War dealer (whose name is difficult to spell, but fun to say!) who liked it a whole lot and plans on hanging it on his wall and enjoying it to the max!

A Kellogg Lincoln & Johnson hand-colored small folio lithograph print was offered on eBay with a starting bid of $65. The seller called it a poster or broadside and said he found it in a book (we are going to have to start buying book box lots!). While not as desirable as the Currier & Ives “National Union Banner” that it emulates, it is actually a good deal rarer. This is the only the third example we are aware of and, arguably, the one in the best condition, despite irregular trimming to the borders, a horizontal crease, a stain and border tear at the bottom. The seller received a private treaty offer of $1,750 at the outset and decided to accept the offer on the second day, at which time the bidding had reached $202. That seemed like the end of it, but “the plot thickens.” Apparently, someone contacted the seller and threw a monkey wrench into the deal. The seller prepared a tracking number, but the item never went out the door. He issued a refund. Someone waiting in the wings then proffered an offer of $4,000. The seller replied that the item was not currently for sale, but may be available again sometime in the future after “the estate is settled.” We are somewhat dubious on that point. Perhaps, one day, the truth will emerge. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The SHADOW do.

This free frank stamp less cover sold on eBay for $77. The person who did the free franking was James Shields, famous as Lincoln’s would-be adversary in a duel that very nearly took place on an island in the Mississippi. Given the research done by the vendor, which we reprint in full, it boggles the mind that he was unable to make this identification. “A 1851 Washington, D.C. free frank cancel and cover to Gustav Koerner. I do not know who the free frank signer was. Mr. Koerner was a close friend and advisor to Abraham Lincoln. He was also the chairman of the Illinois convention that originally picked Lincoln to run for the Senate in 1858. Koerner’s acquaintance with Mary Todd Lincoln predated that with Mr. Lincoln. The refugee from Germany had met Mary Todd when he was a student at Transylvania University in Lexington; he had already earned a doctorate at the University of Heidelberg. He moved to Illinois and set up a legal practice. He was a law partner of Democratic politician James Shields, who was like him an immigrant from Europe. Koerner became a Supreme Court Justice in Illinois before whom Abraham Lincoln practiced in the 1840s. He served as Lieutenant Governor of Illinois under Gov. Joel Matteson in 1853-54 and was an occasional co-counsel with Mr. Lincoln. Throughout the Lincoln Presidency, Koerner was a regular advisor and eventually Lincoln named him Ambassador to Spain.” People are good at pulling information up off the internet, but they seem to lack simple skills of observation!

An eBay vendor listed a rare military accouterment with a possible Lincoln connection. We’ll let the pictures and vendor’s description tell the story:
“Offered is a stunning, original set of Civil War era, Washington D.C. Officer Guard shoulder straps. This is a removable set with pin backs. They are 3 1/2″ in length and 1 3/4″ wide. Very high grade straps with green crushed velvet, silver wire bullion and black border. Backed in polished cotton which is hand sewn on. One board has a slight bit of moth damage on edge but gives us a good look on how they are made. They have a sheet metal interior [which is flexible] and covered with a white cheesecloth. The construction, size and pin type do date them to the Civil War period. Washington DC guards would have been involved with guarding President Abraham Lincoln. They would have also been guarding the Armory where the Lincoln assassins were executed. It sparks the imagination to think what the officer who wore these straps could have witnessed!! Other then the small area of moth damage to the black edge of one, these straps are in remarkable condition.” Lacking provenance and buoyed by speculation, we wonder if the final price of $700 factored in the Lincoln association, or whether it represented the current market for a rare, Civil War uniform accessory.

Skinner’s held an Americana sale on August 12th. We spotted a 20″ bronze of Lincoln, the Railsplitter. It is dated 1911, but with signature is illegible. Estimated at $5,000-$7,000, it crossed the “chopping” block for $6500.

Lincoln is usually associated with Republican candidates for president, but this circa 1896 cabinet card shows him with Democrat William Jennings Bryan, reproducing quotes from each disparaging the monied interests, especially those who market in and speculate in gold. We’re not sure if Lincoln actually said this in 1864, but whatever! It sold on eBay for $46.

A ninth-plate copy tintype of the lost Polycarpus Von Schneidau daguerreotype of Lincoln, taken in Chicago in 1854, was listed on eBay with a Buy-It-Now price of $22,000. Dan Weinberg had one on his website for $27,000 which apparently has been sold. A few years back, Dan had yet another example which was an ambrotype and sold for beaucoup dinero, we understand. A great piece, but we marvel how three examples have surfaced in a five year period. When it rains, it pours!

We kept on hearing about people who find great political ribbons tucked in old, worthless books that they have bought. If this keeps up, we may have to start buying books in bulk! A recent example is a fellow in northwestern Indiana who found a great Lincoln ribbon (“Charlotte Wide-Awake Girls”) in a 1900 edition of “Leaves of Grass” and listed it on eBay. We believe it originated in either Michigan or Vermont, rather than North Carolina. It had rather extensive spotting which was a shame. Still, when are you going to find another? The Charlotte ribbon went for “a lot”, realizing $3,311. We don’t know if the buyer is aware of the defects but, at least, he bought a real ribbon this time around.

An eBay seller offered a nice tintype of Lincoln and Tad in July. He did not list it under the Abraham Lincoln category, but under the heading of tintypes. It was issued by a Philadelphia gallery. The thing we noticed and perhaps other people, as well, was that this copy image of the Gardner photo was of unusually good quality. It was not a copy of an engraving or a lithograph and did not exhibit any of the retouching and alteration typically encountered. It seemed to be a first generation copy of the original photo. It attracted 32 bids and sold for a very strong $1,225. Unfortunately for the seller, the winning bidder allegedly said that he found out the item was a copy of a photograph, so he didn’t want it. It was re-listed and sold for more than a “Tad less” ($356) the second time around.

Spink-Shreves of New York, London and Dallas held an auction on July 18th. It included a rather unusual item. It was a letter from Dr. Anson Henry, a close friend of Lincoln’s, written from the White House during a visit by Dr. Henry and then posted by President Lincoln using his free franking privilege.This was obviously an abuse of power. If it happened today, they’d have a Congressional investigation and appoint an independent prosecutor! We excerpt their description: Lot Number 002 on 18 Jul 2012 as Spink Shreves…

Abraham Lincoln free frank… as President and addressed in his hand to an Alfred R. Elder of Olympia, WT, Washington, D.C./Apr 14, 1863… with original four page accompanying letter written by A.G. Henry on Executive Mansion letterhead stationery dated April 12… an incredibly rare and illegal usage in that Lincoln paid for his acquaintance’s postage… A.G. Henry… speaks of his stay with Mr. Lincoln & Lady and a visit to the Army of the Potomac in company with them as they were guests of General Hooker. He went on to say about General Hooker… ‘for he has the finest army the Sun ever shone upon, commanded by a brave & dashing core of Officers.’ Henry also mentions his annoyance by those seeking to meet Lincoln and also his severe distaste for Victor Smith (who had embarrassed Lincoln in an embezzlement scandal) and wanting a fair swing at him and to have his head in a basket.

Interesting, the letter was posted exactly two years before Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre. Estimated at $5,000-$7,000, it sold for $10,200.

Heritage Auctions held Civil War and Western sales on June 9th and 10th. The Civil War sale had a lot that contained an archive of material that related to John Moseley, a veteran of the 8th Kentucky Infantry. It included his sergeant major stripe, a dress sword sash, a pair of hat cords, a history of the regiment, a group of CDVs and a patriotic/political flag. The flag measured 27″ x 25″ and had nail holes where it had once been attached to a stick. The slogan in the canton was “Liberty and Union Forever”. Moseley had written additional words during the presidential campaign and at the time of Lincoln’s assassination. The annotations or graffiti read: “Grant, Sherman and Sheridan, Thomas, Rousseau and T. J. Wood. Union and Constitution. Louisville, Ky. April 14 1865. Lincoln and Seward assassinated on the night [of] April 14 1865 at Washington City.” Although it isn’t inscribed “Lincoln & Johnson”, it is clearly a Lincoln piece and the inclusion of erroneous first reports of the assassination make it all-the-more interesting. Just as a flag, it’s great. The added personal touch and archive of related material are the icing on the cake. The group was hotly contested and sold for $21,510.

The “Legends of the West” sale contained a 30″ x 26″ oval oil on canvas of Lincoln. From an art appreciator’s viewpoint, the thing was fairly hideous (“facia brute” as they say in Italian); however, it adorned the walls of one of the buildings of Ft. Abraham Lincoln in Dakota Territory and was likely present from the fort’s inception until its closure in 1891. During this period, the fort was commanded by George Armstrong Custer who, like Lincoln, died a violent death. It fared better than Custer, selling for $7,170.

One Lincoln-related lot appeared in Heritage’s illustration art auction in Beverly Hills on June 27th and 28th. A 9″ x 12″ original cartoon by Gahan Wilson, famous for his off-the-wall cartoons that appeared primarily in “New Yorker”, showed Abe Lincoln as an improbable used car salesman. With an opening bid of $150, it drove off the lot for $750.

Al Anderson of Troy, Ohio has been conducting mail auctions of political items for longer than most of us care to remember. Although considered a specialist in celluloid campaign buttons of the 20th century, he tries to present a nice mix of political items from all periods. His July 10-12th two-session sale had two outstanding Lincoln items. The first was a quarter plate ambrotype copied from the Currier & Ives Republican Banner for 1860. It had a conservative opening of $5,000 and sold on a single bid for $5,600. The other item was a red silk ribbon from Indiana issued in 1860. It was fashioned after a ballot with a list of presidential electors, but included a portrait of “Honest Abe”, an American eagle and red, white and blue vertical fabric trim on both sides. Definitely one of your nicer Lincoln ribbons as far as we’re concerned. The opening bid was a mere $600. After the dust had settled, the last bid was $3,080.

In the “I don’t get no re-speck” category, an eBay seller from Apopka, Florida is offering a “speck” of Lincoln’s hair removed during his autopsy, a certificate of authenticity and a framed post-mortem photo of Lincoln in his coffin for a “Buy-It-Now” price of $199. While this practice of piecemealing history is getting more ridiculous by the moment, we must at least insist that the seller include a real photo of Lincoln and not the spurious piece of junk shown here. It does cast some doubt on his credentials as a vendor of bonafide Lincoln relics!

An eBay vendor in Waterville, Maine offered this 12″ x 22″ handmade Lincoln and Johnson swallow-tail pennant for a Buy-It-Now price of $3,500. It came out of an estate and had been folded up and stored in a book for many years. Naturally, it didn’t take long for someone to pull the trigger and get himself a real good deal. Of five collectors who were subsequently “polled” about the piece, three said it was no good and two liked it. The vendor said he tried to research it and didn’t know what it was worth, but figured a good price was whatever made both parties happy. He seems to have never encountered the concept of an auction to determine price. Whatever floats your boat, or banner, as the case may be.

Postscript: With hand-made folk-art textiles, it is virtually impossible to fathom authenticity based exclusively on small, internet photographs. As it turns out, this wonderful relic of the 1864 campaign ended up being traded to one of the nation’s leading dealers in historic Americana. Upon physical examination, it proved absolutely correct… an authentic, period partisan banner!

Nadeau’s Auction Gallery in Windsor, Connecticut (just north of Hartford) held an auction on July 14th. It included a 22″ x 27″ oil on canvas signed Cowell which the cataloger opined might be John Wilkes Booth. Could be… then, again, maybe not. It was estimated at a lowly $200-$400. It would look nice hanging in someone’s B&B establishment. It is whoever you want it to be.

Robert Siegel Galleries, in conjunction with Seth Kaller, Inc., offered a copy of the Boker Emancipation Proclamation on June 27th, in a special “single lot” sale. There have been nine copies sold in the last forty years, but demand remains strong. This specimen sold to David Rubinstein, Managing Director of the Carlyle Group, for $2.1M. He already owns one copy, so we assume this is a “hedge” investment.

Steven Hayden of Charleston, SC (civilwartokens.com) held an internet auction of over 400 items on July 9th. A rare 1864 Lincoln campaign medal in copper (DeWitt AL-1864-3) was hotly contested and sold for a record $2,800. The matching piece for Fremont (DeWitt JF-1864-3) went for a fraction of that… $450. A Stephen Douglas medal in silver (SD-1860-22) was a reasonable $365. An MS63 example of AL-1864-33 (Fuld 131/217), ex: Steven Tannebaum Collection, made $1,265. Steve also sells on eBay.

Bonham’s held a manuscript sale in New York on June 19th. The feature lot was described in the catalog, as follows:

“Autograph Manuscript, DRAFT PROCLAMATION RESERVING FOR THE PRESIDENT THE RIGHT TO GRANT AMNESTY TO CONFEDERATE PRISONERS, Signed in the text ‘I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States,’ 1¼ pages recto and verso, legal folio (350 x 210 mm), after December 8, 1863 and before March 26, 1864, on blue-lined paper, 22 lines to the page (THE SAME PAPER USED FOR THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS, THE 1864 ELECTION VICTORY SPEECH, AND THE LAST ADDRESS)… small printed caption pasted to head (“President Lincoln”)… Provenance: [Robert Todd Lincoln—presumed gift to] Mary Ford, née Molesworth; by descent in the Molesworth family of Pencarrow for over a century; sold at auction to the current owner (Pencarrow Collection of Autograph Manuscripts, Sotheby’s, December 8, 1999, lot 137).


LINCOLN ON THE LEGAL DETAILS OF AMNESTY: ONE OF AN EXTREMELY FEW LINCOLN DRAFT MANUSCRIPTS RELATING SPECIFICALLY TO RECONSTRUCTION POLICY. On 8 December 1863, although the Confederate surrender was more than eighteen months away, Abraham Lincoln issued his historic Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, a bold maneuver intended to hasten the end of War by consolidating hope in the North and enticing weary Southerners to surrender. Lincoln would grant a full pardon and restoration of all rights of property (excepting slaves) to anyone who took an oath to ‘faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of all the States thereunder.’ The Government was quickly overwhelmed by requests for amnesty and in March of the following year the President issued a second Proclamation, clarifying exactly which ‘insurgent enemies’ were entitled to the pardon. The present is an important draft of that second statement, written in clearer and more direct language, in which Lincoln explains that Confederate prisoners already in the custody of the United States are not automatically entitled to a pardon under the terms of the December Amnesty, but that instead he personally will review each plea on a case by case basis. Subsequent autograph endorsements allowing the bearer to ‘take the oath of 8 December and be released’ are frequently met with in the market.

Presidential power to grant amnesty was an important aspect of Lincoln’s effort to control Reconstruction in general. Lincoln never deviated from the theory that secession was illegal and that Southern states remained in the Union despite the temporary takeover of their governments by rebels. Together with the 10%-plan, the second major tenet of the December 8 Proclamation, whereby a State could elect Federal representatives with only 10% of the voting population acceding to the loyalty oath, Lincoln acted to restore both property and franchise to Southerners with as few stipulations as possible. Some radical Congressman, however, led by Thaddeus Stevens, insisted that Southern states had forfeited all their rights prior to secession and would have little more legal status than conquered nations. ‘What Lincoln well understood, but did not acknowledge, was that the ‘metaphysical question’ of reconstruction theories concealed a power struggle between Congress and the Executive over control of the process. If the southern states had reverted to the status of territories, Congress had the right to frame the terms of their readmission under its constitutional authority to govern territories and admit new states. If, on the other hand, the states were indestructible and secession was the act of individuals, the president had the power to prescribe the terms of restoration under his constitutional authority to suppress insurrection and to grant pardons and amnesty.’ (MacPherson ‘Battle Cry of Freedom’, p. 700). Lincoln must have been mindful of this when he penned the present manuscript. He was not only proffering the olive branch to individual Confederate prisoners of war but also giving evidence of his personally conservative and forgiving attitude to Reconstruction. Of course, he never had the chance to fully implement and develop this position in policy before his assassination.

The existence of this important draft was unknown for well over a century, as was generally all the material collected by Mary Ford [1816-1910] in the late 19th century and held at her family’s seat in Cornwall until it was sold by Sotheby’s in 1999. How she obtained the present manuscript is unrecorded; it was certainly a non sequitur amongst a collection focusing on important European literary and musical manuscripts. The most likely path seems to be directly from Robert Todd Lincoln. Robert Todd Lincoln, the only child of the Lincoln’s to survive into adulthood, was the custodian of his father’s papers after the assassination. He is known to have given away a few manuscripts as gifts, including the manuscript of the 1864 election victory speech (on the same paper as the present manuscript) and also including diplomatic gifts. As Mary Ford’s family was prominent and politically active it seems likely that their paths would have crossed in the years that Robert Lincoln was U.S. Minister to England, 1889-1893—a period during which Mary Ford was collecting. Estimate: US$ 200,000 – 300,00.” Despite being the cover lot, this important manuscript failed to sell.

Stair Galleries of Hudson, New York held a decorative arts sale on June 23rd. A 21″ bronze bust of Lincoln by Leonard Volk was offered. Although undated, it was cast by “H. Hoppe, Founder.” of Chicago. It sold for $1,380.

A 30″ x 36″ trompe l’oeil oil on canvas by S. F. Clayton depicted an assortment of 19th century newspapers as well as pictures of Washington, Lincoln and Greeley. Based on the reasonable estimate of $800-$1,200, we assume it is a product of the 20th century. Still quite nice. The winning bidder couldn’t believe his eyes when he won it for $4,025.

Dan Morphy offered an intriguing Lincoln item in his June 9th sale. It was represented as the pocket watch that Abraham Lincoln gave to Mary Todd as the time of their on-again off-again courtship, engagement and marriage. The catalog description read:

“This is a historical 18K Gold pocket watch that was presented to Miss Mary Todd while courting between 1839 and 1842. The inscription reads, ‘To Miss Mary Todd-A Token of my Everlasting Devotion and Affection – Abe Lincoln’. The watch was mentioned in Abe Lincoln’s archives. It was owned by the Todd family for a number of years, and then sold privately to Mr. Ready where it has been for the last several decades. The watch itself has a very elaborate gold design with three colors of gold to create flowers. The watch is not in working order, as it needs a new chain. The watch comes with a letter of authenticity from the North Missouri Historical Society, and a report from the EMTEC providing proof of the age of the inscription.” There are a lot of “loose ends” associated with this watch, besides the fact that no provenance from the time of its presentation or shortly thereafter came with the lot. The biggest “blip” is that Lincoln never referred to himself as “Abe”. That nickname lacked dignity and propriety. He never signed any of his letters or documents in that manner. What exactly are “Abe Lincoln’s archives?” A specific notation would help. The letter from Fred Schwartz, the “senior metallurgical engineer” at EMTEC of Denver asserts that the “engraving is not of recent origin.” Fine.. all that means is that the engraving wasn’t done in the last twenty years. It tells you when it “wasn’t” done, not when it “was” done. The letter of authenticity from Jerry L. Davis on the letterhead of the “North Missouri Historical Society” of Kahoka, Missouri is a joke. A search on google for “North Missouri Historical Society” comes back with no results. There are historical societies in Kahoka, but not this one. Mr. Davis makes all sorts of wild claims, including that he owns the only COMPLETE copy in Lincoln’s hand of the Emancipation Proclamation, that he owns a pen that Lincoln carried and used from 1858 until his death and which was used exclusively for all the documents he composed, that he owns a marble desk set given to Lincoln in 1864 by the City of New York, and that he owns a Lincoln watch “that was part of the O. H. Oldroid [sic] collection.” He says that since his watch and Larry Ready’s watch (the one being sold here) are the same size, with the same case, housed in similar boxes, that both are therefore authentic Lincoln watches. The offering also fails to take into account another Lincoln presentation watch… the one in the Henry Luhrs Collection sold by Heritage Auctions in 2007 for $71,700. That watch had extensive documentation and the presentation engraving was signed “A.L.”, not “Abe Lincoln”. With an estimate of $30,000-$60,000, this ticking time bomb was passed.

In case you haven’t noticed, eBay is awash with reproductions of vintage photographs, in all formats. Sometimes, these are accurately represented, other times not. Either way, they are bad news for collectors. A vendor calling himself “southcollectibles08″ is currently offering thirty-four different reproduction tintypes, cabinet cards and CDVs, including this 2 1/4″ x 3 1/4” tinted Cooper Union portrait of Lincoln. It can be yours for $34.99. This may not be illegal, but it should be.

Gene Dillman, operating as “Old Politicals”, held an internet auction on June 21st. A Lincoln-Hamlin jugate ribbon, incorporating the same woodcut portraits as typically seen on 1860 campaign stationery, was hotly contested, selling for $15,473. It joins the triumvirate of the “Protection to American Industry” and “Republican Standard Bearers” over-under salt print as the three most expensive Lincoln ribbons, all of which have broken the $15,000 barrier. A large Lincoln ferrotype “belt buckle” ferro, complete with the integral loop (an unusual occurrence), realized $3,307. A small size oval Lincoln ferro badge, attached to a beautiful purple silk bow-tie, attracted a lot of attention, as well. It crossed the block for a “zaftig” $2,978. A similar ferro in the sale with portrait #1, but no ribbon, sold for $904. Doing the math, the purple ribbon cost the buyer a “measly” two grand and it wasn’t even labeled Giorgio Armani.

A real nice specimen of the Lincoln “Peace Commissioners” ribbon was offered on eBay in early June. This was the extra wide variety. It was on white silk with much of the original sheen. Everyone wanted a “peace” of it, and it realized $2,800.

Given Lincoln’s “civil rights record”, you wouldn’t think the KKK would adopt him as a role model. Yet, this circa 1929 jack knife by Wabash Cutlery shows him and Washington and a hooded klansman on the back. Abe and George are labeled “100%”, inferring they are native born, Protestant Americans and not Catholic immigrants. The Klan shifted its focus in the 1920s, railing against Catholics. The knife was offered on eBay (slipping through the cracks as KKK items are normally taboo) and was bid up to $125 before eBay caught the violation and terminated the listing.

A very rare postally-used cover with a John Breckinridge campaign stamp affixed sold on eBay for $565. It was misidentified as Stephen Douglas, but that didn’t make any difference. We suspect it was acquired by a philatelist and not a political collector. It is the only one we have ever seen. The Bishoff Sale did not contain one.

An eBay seller offered a rare stereo view of Lincoln’s Philadelphia funeral by Wilson & Hood over the Memorial Day weekend. There’s a large recruiting broadside for Hancock’s Regiment in the background as well as another recruiting banner or broadside that appears to be draped over a railing in the foreground. An example sold a few years back in a Railsplitter auction for around $380. This one, in excellent condition, did quite a bit better, realizing $908.

Chuck Hand of Paris, Illinois sells Lincoln books exclusively. He recently issued a “Summer List” with twenty-nine entries, of which the following are a sample. Check out his website: lincolnbooks.net.

Mellon, James. THE FACE OF LINCOLN. Of all the books that contain Lincoln photos, this one is the best. The large format clearly shows Lincoln’s features. The book was reprinted but in a smaller size, and the photos have less clarity. I had this book listed as a first edition, but Dan Pearson pointed out that it is really a “second edition”. After the true first edition was printed, Mr. Mellon, upset with the unsatisfactory quality of the paper and printed, had the entire run destroyed and ordered that it be reprinted. The result was this fine book. This copy is in a good dust jacket. $200.00

Baber, Adin. A. LINCOLN WITH COMPASS AND CHAIN. This is another book of which I have been able to find several copies, mainly because Mr. Baber was from this area. He signed or inscribed copies to local people. Most Lincoln bibliographies do not include Mr. Baber’s works because they were type set with a typewriter, and for whatever reason, Monaghan and subsequent bibliographers did not include those types of works in their listings. Additionally, Mr. Baber’s works were published in a very limited edition. This copy came from Homer Banks, Jr., a land surveyor in California, and has his stamps inside the front and rear covers. While I did meet Mr. Baber’s daughter and know several of his relatives, it would have been a pleasure to have known him. $250.00

Current, Richard C. THE LINCOLN NOBODY KNOWS. Early in my bookselling career, this was the first book I sold to an author. As I spoke to Dr. Current on the phone I remarked that he had the same name as the author! I met him a month later in Springfield and we both had a laugh (at my stupidity). What a true gentleman. Listed here is a first edition in a decent dust jacket. $25.00

Donald, David. LINCOLN’S HERNDON. Dr. Donald was another of the Lincoln authors I had the honor and pleasure of meeting several times. Offered here is a first edition, 1948, copy in good condition. There is a note on the title page that this book was purchased at the Old Salem Village. My guess is it was purchased from the book store there that was operated by the legendary Ralph Newman. As a kid, I purchased my first Lincoln book in that shop. $25.00

Heritage Auctions of Dallas had their Spring Americana sale on May 12th. There were a good many pieces of Lincolniana which all found buyers. A substantial lock of Lincoln’s hair included in its provenance Oliver Barrett, R. Gerald McMurtry and Elsie Sang. It exceeded expectations and realized $19,717.

A wonderful “Freeport Wide Awakes” ribbon sold to a phone bidder for a very strong $9,560, despite faults. Go find another!

A circa 1862 bandanna featuring Lincoln and four Union generals in CDV format sold for “a few dollars” more… $10,456.

A copy of the “Wigwam Grand March”, arguably the best piece of Lincoln campaign sheet music known, caught the notice of a “classical” music fan who shelled out $2,629. This is, we believe, the third appearance of this title in the last few years, but the demand is unabated.

A printed pass to the Surratt trial was marked on the back: “From E. M. Stanton through Genl. J. A. Ekin Aug. 1867”. It went out the door for $3,107.

A multi-colored McClellan paper ribbon was owned by a member of the “McClellan Old Guard” who pleaded: “Give Us Back Our Old Commander”. We suppose they figured their chances of surviving the war were better with McClellan in charge rather than U. S. Grant. It sold reasonably for $896.

A seller on eBay listed a 3 ‘ x 5’ hand-painted banner with a portrait of Lincoln inscribed “The Son of a Farmer”. He represented it as an 1864 campaign item and said it came out of an attic in Western New York where it had been rolled up. He also claimed a similar banner had been found nearby in a Masonic Hall around twenty years ago. These claims hardly rise to the level of authentication. Although the slogan is not one that is known to have been used in the campaign of 1864, these banners were handmade and the maker was at liberty to inscribe whatever he felt was appropriate. And, if it originated in rural Western New York, the slogan may have been one that would appeal to farmers in that locale. The size, medium, method of manufacture and overall “look” made us think it could possibly be legit. A question to the seller yielded the information that the banner was painted on heavy canvas and had a black cloth backing. He did not recall if there were nail holes around the perimeter, as he had framed the item, but assumed that there were. In our eyes, this information indicated the banner was not from 1864, as advertised. We seem to recall seeing it offered elsewhere in the recent past, perhaps at some country auction, where the seller no doubt acquired it. He listed it with a starting price of $2,550 and got one bid. We figure the buyer bet on a longshot with odds of 10-1. We’ll see if it pays off.

Apple Tree Auctions in Newark, Ohio held a very specialized sale on May 19th. It consisted of 88 wax figures designated “Legends of Wax Museum”. Sixty-five of the figures were made by Katherine Stubergh, using life or death masks as models. Stubergh began work in the 1930s and met some of her subjects “in the flesh”. Some of the “folks” looked spot-on, others not so much. We picture four of the exhibits of “Madame Stubergh’s” waxworks: Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. These each had a “suggested bid” of $1,000. They sold for $12,650, $1,100, $1,100 and no sale respectively. There were quite a few no sales, making for a “lifeless” sale.

Slotin Auctions of Buford, Georgia specializes in “outsider art”. A favorite subject of these untrained artists is Abraham Lincoln. Their April sale had this 20″ high figure of Lincoln composed of gourds and other materials. It realized $525 hammer. Apparently, there weren’t too many vegetarians in the audience.

Ebay vendor “Walnutts” listed quite a few Lincoln memorial items in April. We picture just one which, at a quick glance, seems like the ubiquitous embossed mourning card. Not so. If you look closely, you will see that it is, in fact, a paper label for a bolt of fabric, perhaps black bunting or crepe. It “suited” someone’s fancy and sold for $366.

The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago has an ever-changing stock of photographs, manuscripts and autographs related to Abraham Lincoln, American personalities and the Civil War. A recent posting is this bronze casting of Lincoln’s hand by Leonard Volk. Dan Weinberg has done a good deal of research into the various castings which, quite frankly, we find rather confusing, as there is much speculation involved. Even though dated 1860, the bronze hand was likely done some time later. It exhibits differences from other castings. The most significant difference is the amount of detail, seen on the skin, nails and whittled broomstick. The inscription also has different placement than that seen on other examples. For those interested, we suggest a “virtual visit” to Dan’s web site, alincolnbookshop.com. The asking price is $125,000.

Swann Galleries in New York City had an autograph sale on April 17th. A one-page ALS of William Tecumseh Sherman, written February 1, 1865 to General John Gray Foster, sheds light on Sherman’s views towards blacks in the military (rather surprising views, at that, given their track record and the late stage in the war): “… I cannot modify my orders relative to General Saxton having the charge of recruiting blacks… I think the impression at Washington is that both you an I are inimical to the policy of arming negroes, and all know that Saxton is not, and his appointment reconciles that difficulty. If anything serious occurs correspond directly with Mr. Stanton… Let Grant know I am in motion… the moment the enemy lets go, get the railroad ties broken back to the Ediston.” It sold for $7,200.

A 2-page ALS of Charles Sumner, written from Washington on April 16, 1861, reflects the national mood at the outbreak of hostilities: “… At last the war has come. The day of insincerity and duplicity is now passed & all the cabinet is united in energetic action. It will be needed, for the Slave States will be united. The Pres’t. speaks simply and plainly of the state of the country & I think he understands it. As I see more of him I like him better. Meanwhile at the State Depart, the web is spinning, in infinite dispatches, to what end God knows! Already the diplomatists here are afraid. Goodbye!” It realized $9,600.

A signed quotation of Andrew Johnson was dated March 2, 1861, although it is unclear if the quote was added later, as it seems to be a wartime sentiment: “Show me the man who makes war on the Government and fires on its vessels, and I will show you a traitor. If I were President of the United States, I would have all such arrested, and when tried and convicted, by the Eternal God, I would hang them.” Johnson’s intemperate remarks are reminiscent of his early political role model and fellow Tennessean, Andrew Jackson. Once he was President, Johnson softened his position considerably. This item was signed both on the front and the back of the card and went out the door for $3,120.

An Abraham Lincoln Note Signed, March 7, 1864, sent to his future Vice-Presidential running mate, Military Governor Andrew Johnson, was a response to Johnson’s request for three pardons to be issued to Tennessee residents. It appears, at this point in his career, that Johnson may have been modifying his strident views. Lincoln wrote: “Gov. Johnson on Pardons. Attorney General please make out pardons in these cases in the forms Gov. Johnson will request.” Lincoln was the not the only one famous for issuing pardons! It was “reprieved” for $7,800.

An eBay vendor listed a 5″ x 8″ handbill advertising the 1860 campaign editions of the “Detroit Weekly Tribune”, a Republican newspaper. Various campaign speeches were offered by the publisher, including one by Lincoln on the Constitution (likely his Cooper Union Address). It sold for $338. Another vendor offered an uncut sheet of four Lincoln & Hamlin ballots from Illinois. Though it lacked graphics, it was a nice acquisition for some lucky Lincoln buff at $560, as uncut sheets of ballots are rarely seen.

Willis Henry Auctions of Marshfield, Massachusetts sold a cased, ninth-plate, tinted ambrotype of Lincoln on March 24th. It was the Cooper Union pose and had a yellow store card on the back side for the photographer, J. B. Thurston of Providence, Rhode Island. It made a strong $3,744.

R & R Auctions of Amherst, New Hampshire holds periodic auctions of autographs, manuscripts and space memorabilia. They held an internet-only, Civil War specialty auction in March that had 479 lots. Although starting bids are usually a fraction of market value, some lots are offered subject to a hidden reserve. There is a 20% buyer’s premium, discounted 2% for cash or check. Their website is rrauction.com. We selected an assortment of the “juicier” Lincoln pieces. A four-page Mary Todd Lincoln ALS, written on black-bordered personal letterhead, May 5, 1862 to Charles Reeves of Cleveland, Ohio offers condolences on the death of Reeves’ wife and discusses the recent loss of her own son, Willie:

“The sad intelligence of the death of your most excellent wife had reached me two or three weeks before I received your letter, and I have been so bowed down and broken hearted myself or I should have written you to express my deep sorrow in your heavy bereavement. Where Mrs. Reeves was known, there her goodness and influence was ever felt. She was one of the pure hearted beings of this world. Who are most frequently first removed. In His own time we will know why it is. The Hereafter will explain, many things, that are now in the dark and mysterious to us.

Our own afflictions, are so overwhelming my Husband and myself are so crushed and sorrowful, that we can well sympathize with those who mourn, our hearts can go out, towards those who weep – We know in our trials, that the heavy stroke, came from a Father’s hand, yet it is so difficult while our hearts are bleeding, to be submissive – There was no lovelier boy, than ours, and none more precious or more dearly loved yet he has been called away and we are left to our desolations and agony. Our Beloved Willie dearly loved your wife and I know she equally as much attached to him – And I fully know and believe they are this day together rejoicing in the presence of their Saviour.

I have shed many many tears over the last writing of your sainted wife in memory of our darling boy, if it were not for the hope, that by serving God rightly here we may be enabled to meet them again – what would life be – As it is, there are days when I feel that I cannot struggle on much longer. Just a short time before his illness I had intended sending Mrs Reeves his photograph which did not do Willie justice – please receive this from me – If you should ever come on to W[ashington] I will show you a painting of him very much like him and far handsomer than this. Please excuse this letter, written in much haste, and almost blotted by my tears – When we weep here, we can only remember that there ‘all tears are wiped away from their eyes.’ Sorrow never enters there.”

The letter was accompanied by its original black-bordered mailing envelope, addressed by Mary Lincoln to “Mr. Charles Reeves, Cleveland, Ohio,” initialed by her in the lower left corner, “M. L.,” and franked in the upper right corner by the president, “A. Lincoln.” It was also accompanied by the original 2.25″ x 4″ carte-de-visite of Willie Lincoln mentioned in the letter, identified in the lower border in pencil in an unknown hand, “Willie Lincoln.” The letter and transmittal envelope had numerous flaws, although the signatures were in good shape. It realized $38,767. Another lot was composed of but a single CDV, but it was a great one! It was originally sold by Paul Richards in 1985 and was described here as an “exceptional and incredibly rare original 2.25″ x 4″ carte-de-visite portrait, taken by Alexander Gardner on August 9, 1863, showing Lincoln seated at a table, with a paper in one hand and his glasses in the other hand, boldly signed in the lower border in black ink, as president, ‘A. Lincoln.’ Double cloth matted and framed to an overall size of 10.5 x 12.5. In fine condition, with a bit of scattered trivial soiling to lower border. Historic in nature, this image shows the 16th president holding a copy of the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle, a pro-Lincoln news sheet, and was taken by Gardner at the photographer’s new Washington, D.C. studio. Gardner had parted company with fellow Civil War photographer Mathew Brady about a year earlier, and his session with Lincoln—which the president deemed ‘very successful’ after privately reviewing the poses at the White House—was a coup for the independent photographer in his first few months in business.” Signed Lincoln CDV’s typically sell for $70,000 and up. This one sold for $75,625.

Another photograph by Gardner was offered; namely, a 8.75″ x 6.25″ albumen of the execution of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Entitled “After the Drop: The Execution of the Lincoln Assassination,” this famous photograph is one of a series of ten images, “Hanging of the Lincoln Conspirators,” captured by Alexander Gardner (assisted by Timothy O’Sullivan) on July 7, 1865, representing the official record of the execution at the Washington Penitentiary. The Scottish-born photographer was the sole photographer permitted to document the execution, but the photographs were considered too graphic for public consumption and were recreated as illustrations for Harper’s Weekly. The albumen print on paper shows the scaffold and the dangling, hooded bodies of Mary Surratt (who kept a boardinghouse where the conspirators met), George Atzerodt (charged with the attempted assassination of Vice President Johnson), David Herold (who assisted Booth on his flight from Washington) and Lewis Payne (who attempted to assassinate Secretary of War Stanton). The final bid “executed” was $11,417.

The assassin himself was represented by a three-page ALS, written November 23, 1861 to Joseph H. Simonds. “I know you will forgive me, this long delay in answering your letters; if you knew better you would not wonder at it, as I avail myself of any excuse to get rid of writing, no matter how I may long to hear from the person to whom I have to write. And I confess I should like to hear from you every day. I received your photograph, a thousand thanks, I think it very good, I believe you have mine. My second week in Buffalo was so, so. I played 17 nights in Detroit to a good Bus[iness]. After here Monday night, 25th, they count high on me but I am doubtful as to my success. Maggie Mitchel is playing a good engagement here. My dear Joe excuse this as I am standing in the office with about a hundred people about me blowing at a fearful rate. I am not fixed yet, so I cannot go to my room. Yours of the 16th also reached me, in Detroit. It seems that Forrest is always in trouble. I am sorry his bus. is not better, for it is rough to see such trash (as Barney Williams practices on the stage), get the best of the legitimate, but such is life. Give my kindest regards to the Bugbee’s. Has Mr. B. gone to Cal. yet? I addressed a letter to him in your care, did you get it. I will write to you more intelligibly the next time, so asking you to excuse this again.” Provenance: The Sang Collection (Sotheby Parke Bernet, 26 April 1978, lot 46 [envelope then present] — Anonymous owner, Christie’s, 9 December 1993, lot 158, $42,550). The lot description elaborates: “This rare long letter, written while standing in a hotel lobby waiting for a room, gives unusual insight into the famed actor’s touring stage life. Written to theater buff and close friend, J. H. Simonds, an ambitious Boston Bank clerk with whom Booth had interests in the Pennsylvania oil fields. The mentioned ‘Forrest’ was the famous classical actor Edwin Forrest; his career was plagued by scandals, he had disappeared from the stage after a messy 1850s divorce, and was attempting a 1860-61 comeback. ‘Maggie Mitchel’ was rising star Maggie Mitchell, Lincoln’s favorite actresses, who frequently acted with Booth, while ‘Barney Williams’ was a popular Irish-born comic actor who delighted audiences as a blackface minstrel, often playing for the Union troops. The ‘Bugbee’s’ mentioned near the letter’s closing were a Philadelphia family, known to the Booths, that moved to Boston before settling in California; John Stevenson Bugbee was living in California at this time. Booth opened a 10-day engagement on November 25 at Wood’s Theatre in Cincinnati, appearing in, among others, Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Marble Heart (which Lincoln once saw featuring Booth). Although audiences were unimpressed and the box office disappointing, The Cincinnati Commercial declared that ‘Mr. Booth has caught some of the fire that animated his great father.’ As his theatrical income declined during the war, Booth turned to his neglected oil investments for income which Simonds had stepped in to oversee. By 1865, Simonds had loaned the actor money, including a $500 bequest that the future assassin used to buy guns and supplies for the abortive plot to kidnap Lincoln in March 1864 (unbeknown to Simonds). After the president’s assassination, Simonds was summoned to testify about Booth’s investments during Lincoln conspirators’ trial in May 1865. A highly desirable and rare letter written to a friend that Booth later used to forward his aborted kidnap plot. The letter is also noteworthy for its very scarce 3¢ pink of 1861 (Scott 64) stamp used on the mailing envelope, addressed in Booth’s hand and docketed by Simonds.” Trying to make a “comeback” of its own, it was a “hit” at $37,023.

A pair of eyeglasses represented as once owned by Abraham Lincoln was offered. The cataloger went to extensive efforts to convince prospective buyers of the item’s bona fides. We noticed some discrepancies, though, and remain unconvinced suspecting this might be wishful thinking – the proverbial desire to put a square peg in a round hole. Lincoln’s last surviving heir, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith was bequeathed two pairs of eyeglasses purportedly found in an overlooked trunk at Hildene, the family home of his grandfather, Robert Todd Lincoln. A photocopied letter of authenticity Beckwith wrote out detailed that they had “belonged to my great grandfather President Abraham Lincoln, and so marked by my grandmother Mary Harlan Lincoln. I further give one pair of these eye glasses to Margaret Fristoe of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and one pair to James T. Hickey of Elkhart, Illinois.” (Hickey was Curator of the Lincoln Collection of the Illinois State Historical Library, now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.) The pair given to Hickey is in the Library’s collection. Fast forward twenty+ years. Beckwith’s heir, his stepdaughter Lenora Fristoe Hoverson, consigned “Two pairs of eyeglasses, both in the trunk at Hildene, among other artifacts” to Wes Cowan Auctions. Wes sold a great deal of Beckwith/Hildene material; Christie’s sold a few of the better pieces last year, the balance were sold by a Virginia auction house in an “estate sale” venue. In an attempt to prove the glasses belonged to Lincoln, Wes had the prescription tested to see if it matched the pairs found as part of the “contents of Lincoln’s pockets the night of his assassination in 1865 [that] was donated by the family to the Library of Congress.” There were two pairs of spectacles the President had with him; one for reading, the other for distance. In 1977, the prescriptions for both pairs were examined by the Chief Optician for the Veteran’s Administration. One pair was corrected to +1.75, the other +2.00. The prescriptions with those sent to Wes simply did not match. The discrepancy in the prescription was explained by the cataloger in the R. & R. Auction: “Lincoln had with him two pair of spectacles at the time of his death. One pair was a gift from a lawyer who rode the circuit with Lincoln and was appointed a Washington city marshal by President Lincoln. A temple is inscribed ‘A. Lincoln, presented by Ward H. Lamon.’ This pair was corrected to +2.00. The spectacles offered here is +2.12. It is reasonable to assume that these were not his only spectacles and that the President had others at the Executive Mansion. Ostensibly, Lincoln used different spectacles to read newspapers, books, and letters, so he carried with him more than one pair. Spectacles manufactured in the 19th century varied widely in workmanship, materials and design. In many cases, prescriptions were not made to order, such as the pair Lamon bought. Spectacles were sold by traveling peddlers, at jewelry shops (where Lincoln bought his first pair), or in general stores.” In our minds, it would seem that Lamon, having gone to the expense of inscribing the gift, would have made certain they were the correct strength. If he had purchased the pair at a jewelry shop, off-the-shelf, wasn’t he gambling that they would be the right prescription? If wrong, Lincoln might have said “Hey, Ward, you cheap bastard! Go back and get me the right ones!” Having “disposed” of this discrepancy, the cataloger then suggested that the pair being auctioned were the same as shown in Gardner’s portrait of Lincoln taken in February 1865: “The gold colored pair here offered appear to be the spectacles Lincoln is holding in his hands in a photograph made by Alexander Gardner in Washington, D.C., between early February and April 10, 1865 (O-116D), one of a multi-image stereographic pose of four images. Charles Hamilton writes, ‘The President holds his spectacles and a pencil, both blurred, showing that he moved his fingers nervously during the exposure… When the camera failed to record some fascinating or intimate detail, the photographer often employed an artist to retouch or add to the scene. Here Lincoln’s spectacles and pencil, blurred in the original negative, are plainly outlined’ –undoubtedly using the spectacles worn by Lincoln as a model… The shape of the lenses of the gold colored pair are identical to those in the photograph (O-116D). The hinge connecting the lens to the temple which loops around the ear has a visible split in the photograph and in the gold colored spectacles. The thin wire temple loop of the gold colored spectacles are clearly visible in the photograph.” If the spectacles and pencil Lincoln held in O-116D were blurred, how can one possibly compare that with the example being sold? The notion that an assistant outlined or highlighted the blurred glasses after Lincoln left the studio and “remembered” to include a “split” in the hinge is hard to believe. But, if you’re not convinced, the cataloger notes that since a pair of Lincoln’s glasses from the John Lattimer Collection (sold by Heritage Auctions for $179,250) and the current pair both originated with Mrs. Robert Todd Lincoln, ergo, both belonged to Abraham Lincoln. “With President Lincoln’s daughter-in-law being the source of both pairs, the major difference between the Lattimer spectacles and these gold colored spectacles is that all evidence points to these gold colored spectacles being the ones President Lincoln is holding in the photograph taken in early 1865 by Alexander Gardner in Washington, D.C. (O-116D).” Fristoe-Holverson only had one pair of authentic glasses. She consigned two pair to Cowan. There is no direct link between the two pair consigned to Cowan and the one leftover pair of authentic glasses. The prescription for the Cowan glasses does not match either pair Lincoln had with him on the night of the assassination. There is no way to accurately compare the pair being sold with the pair Lincoln is holding in the February 1865 Gardner image. We like to give folks the benefit of the doubt but, on this item, we just “can’t see it.” It sold for an eye-popping $61,174.

eBay vendor “cwbadges” is currently offering a great anti-Confederate CDV for a “Buy-It-Now” price of $750 or best offer. It was published by Gutekunst of Philadelphia, likely in 1861. It shows a model of the Devil. In one hand, he holds a gallows from which Jeff Davis is hanging beneath a seven-star First National CSA flag. In the other hand, he holds a pitchfork from which dangle Prang engraved CDV’s showing Davis, Stephens, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and two other rebel generals. He wonders whatever happened to the prop or model used for this novelty CDV? Gone to the Devil, no doubt!

Offered on eBay was “a very rare [April 1861] newspaper, 4pp., 7″ x 9″ with a portrait of a beardless Abe Lincoln on the front page. This is a comical humorous newspaper. Much on the secession movement and their leaders. Details the Grand Procession of the Citizens of Black Rock, White Head, Pleasant Beach, the Jerusalem Road and such others as may join them, in honor of their Victory in Seceding….” Says that citizens along the route should stay in their homes, keep the children inside and chain up their dogs. All kinds of drink prohibited except for whiskey and old medford. Underneath the portrait of Lincoln are the words…’The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States….’ Inside are cartoons of noted men and women with comical statements about them, etc. A Derringer pistol is shown and is titled ‘Whoever calls us Coward!! Ahem!’ Below that is printed OUR PLATFORM, a series of statements that are due White Men, including the right to buy and sell Lincoln and Hamlin medals. Also states that it is the right of every White Man to vote for Abraham Lincoln and seek office under him if he can get it…and finally~~’It is the right for every BLACK MAN to all these rights and even more so….’” We like the part about buying Lincoln and Hamlin medals! It sold for $230.

Pacific Book Auctions had a sale on March 29th that had a Lincoln-related book that sold for $1,560. Here is their catalog description: “Boyd, Andrew & Charles Henry Hart. Memorial Lincoln Bibliography: Being an Account of Books, Eulogies, Sermons, Portraits, Engravings, Medals, etc., Published upon Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States, Assassinated Good Friday, April 14, 1865. Comprising a Collection in Possession of the Compiler, Andrew Boyd 1870 (Est. $2,500-3,500) 2 parts in 1. [8], 175 pp.

With 3 mounted albumen photographs, of a painting of Abraham Lincoln by William E. Marshall, of the original manuscript of the Emancipation Proclamation, and of a plaster cast of Lincoln’s right hand. (Large 8vo) 26.5×18 cm. (10½x7″), period (original?) cloth. First Edition. Rare, almost legendary, bibliography of Lincolniana, concentrating on eulogies and memorial publications issued shortly after the assassination of the president, but also including wartime speeches, sheet music, portraits, engravings, etc. Finely printed on large paper, with only about 125 copies produced, a money-losing proposition for the compilers, since they were sold for only $3 a copy. Andrew Boyd and Charles Henry Hart were both young admirers of Abraham Lincoln, the former most noted as a compiler and publisher of directories in New York and New England. They spent five, at times acrimonious, years compiling the present work. Boyd contributed the first part, as well as a short “Preliminary Egotism” which was his trademark in his directories and a 6-page eulogy. The second part, comprising pp. 88-175, was the work of Hart, and he also wrote a 16-page biographical introduction on Lincoln. Only a single copy of this work has appeared at auction in more than 30 years.”

An eBay seller offered these two porcelain plaques of Grant and Lincoln with a starting bid of $275. They measure 2 1/2″ x 2″ each and have the name of the subjects inscribed on the back side. We were especially attracted to the unusual gold, swiggley design in the background. We believe they were produced around 1876 and were meant to be mounted as brooches… a popular Victorian accessory. The pair went out the door for the opening bid of $275.

Hake’s Americana held a sale that ended March 22nd. The only unusual Lincoln-related item we noticed was a 6 1/2″ tall “Good Honest” coffee tin from the 1920s. It featured a picture of our 16th president on one side. We are reminded of the entry in “Honest Abe’s Jokes” where the New York publisher T. R. Strong is mentioned. Lincoln interjects: “Yes… T. R. Strong, but coffee is stronger.” No doubt he was referring to “Good Honest Coffee”. This rare piece of advertising made an “honest” $250.

There is an impression among some that California (a.k.a., GaGa Land) is the land of magic mushrooms, moon children and flakes. No doubt an exaggeration, but the following listing on ebay only serves to reinforce the perception. A seller in the Golden State offers the following item with a Buy-It-Now price of $1,295. He describes it as an:

“Historically important Carte De Visite, CDV photographic image of a gentleman by the name of William Cameron reading the front page headline announcing the nomination of Abraham Lincoln to the Office Of President Of The United States Of America on November 6, 1860. Photographed by A.H. Bald, Photographer, Glasgow, Scotland.”

Poor, deluded fool. Doesn’t he know that the man is reading the election results? We don’t have the heart to tell him.

Swann Galleries auctioned Part II of the Eric C. Caren Collection on March 15th. A 12″ x 24″ example of the classic “Charleston Mercury” extra announcing the dissolution of the Union was reasonably estimated at $15,000-$20,000 and “succeeded” in realizing $26,400. A 29″ x 38″ hand-colored “Lloyd’s New Political Chart for 1861″ showed Lincoln, his Cabinet and four prominent generals. Perhaps the least desirable in the series, it nonetheless managed to sell for $1,440. Finally, a 8″ x 12 1/2” broadside (if it can be called that) of King Kamehameha IV’s Proclamation of Neutrality for the Hawaiian Islands sold for $3,840. Issued on August 26, 1861, it forbade any of his subjects from engaging in privateering. That was a close call for Lincoln. With Hawaii on the Confederate side, who knows what would have happened?

An eBay seller is currently dispersing a collection of stereo views. There were two related to the funeral of Lincoln. Published by Schreiber & Ridgeway Glover of Philadelphia, they were purchased for fifty-cents each in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1865 by John Meigs. He was supposedly a member of the famous Meigs Family and documented his purchases with inked inscriptions on the verso of each. A view of two soldiers guarding the receiving vault at the Oak Ridge Cemetery sold for $1,225. The more interesting view showed a large assemblage of people viewing the outdoor funeral service. We don’t recall seeing this particular view before. It made a “lively” $4,650. Both sold to the same bidder. On the more expensive card, he and one other person were the only bidders above the $900 mark.

HCA Auctions in Graham, NC held a sale on February 23rd. We spotted one very interesting item. It is a gem albumen, 20 mm. x 26 mm., depicting the “Lincoln and Johnson Union Wigwam”. This was a wood shed in Erie, New York that the owner converted into a convention hall during the campaign of 1864. It occasionally appears on a CDV published by a local photographer. This may be a cut-down version or one made especially to be placed in gem frames. The quality of this little “gem” is truly outstanding. It realized $1,066.

Swann’s of New York City held African American Art and Manuscript Sales on February 16th and March 1st. A Lincoln painting caught our attention, not by virtue of its artistic merits, but its extremely aggressive estimate of $60,000-$90,000. Here is the catalog description:

Abraham Lincoln.
Oil on paper photo, laid down on honeycomb paper, mounted on canvas, 1865. 710×560 mm; 28×22 inches (oval). Inscribed “Original Photo in Oil by D. B. Bowser, July 3, 1865” in oil on verso.
Provenance: Robert Purvis, President of the Underground Railroad; Phil Chmielewski, Fox Chase, PA; purchased by the current owner at Butterfield’s, San Francisco, March 21, 1990 (the only auction record found for Bowser); private collection.
Exhibited: Of Color, Humanitas and Statehood: The Black Experience in Pennsylvania over Three Centuries, 1681-1891, Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, Philadelphia, 1981.
This painting was famously found in a barn near Byberry, PA, a stop on the Underground Railroad and close to the Purvis family. According to a 1981 Philadelphia Inquirer article, From Barn To Museum ‘Lost’ Portrait Stars in Black Exhibit, Mr. Chmielewski found the painting in a barn in 1944 on farm land his parents bought from the Purvis family. He had stored it in his attic, where the painting was forgotten until a month before the 300th anniversary exhibition celebrating African Americans in Pennsylvania. Chmielewski presented it to the director of the Philadelphia exhibition, Charles L. Blockson, who added the portrait to the display.
Robert Purvis (1810 – 1898) was a leading African-American figure in the Abolitionist movement, and the only African American to lead a major abolitionist organization. The Philadelphian was the son of a wealthy white cotton merchant and a free African-American woman who attended Amherst College. He was the president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery society and a member of Boston’s William Lloyd Garrison American Anti-Slavery Society. He welcomed the outbreak of the Civil War and urged Lincoln to pursue emancipation. Purvis was also asked to head the Freedmen’s Bureau at the end of the Civil War.
David Bustill Bowser made a career as a portrait painter of some of the leading figures of the day, and, according to Theresa Leininger-Miller, was “one of the most commercially successful African-American artists in Philadelphia in the 19th century.” He was the cousin and student of the artist Robert M. Douglass, Jr. of Philadelphia, one of the earliest Philadelphia African-American artists. While the Bowser family is known from the 18th-century teacher Cyrus Bustill to the 20th-century actor Paul Robeson, there remains little information about the artist’s early life. Bowser’s surviving paintings tell a story of his wide-ranging career, from the early commission of maritime and landscape paintings to the emblems and banners for Philadelphia fireman companies and fraternal organizations.
Leininger-Miller describes how Bowser was commissioned to paint 21 “oil paintings and retouched photographs” of Abraham Lincoln in various poses by both prominent African Americans like Purvis and whites like U.S. Treasury Secretary Jay Cooke. Porter notes how it was long believed that Lincoln himself had commissioned one, and that the Bowser family never cashed his treasured check. We have located two other examples of similar Lincoln busts from 1865–one in the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia and another in a private collection. The Philadelphia exhibition also included a 1858 Bowser portrait of John Brown from the collection of the Philadelphia Historical Society; the artist had hosted Brown at his home.
St. James/Leininger-Miller p. 66; Philadelphia Inquirer p. K01; Porter p. 20 and pp. 30-31.

The painting, not surprisingly, failed to sell and is “hanging tight.” In the manuscripts sale, an 8-page pamphlet from 1854 printed the reviled Fugitive Slave Bill in its entirety. It was printed in Boston, ground-central for anti-slavery fervor and opposition to the Bill. Estimated at $1,500-2,500, it was “apprehended” for $4,080.

A 16″ x 21″ broadside advertised a “White Men Rally!” at Des Moines, Iowa on July 19, 1865. We don’t believe we’ve ever seen so many type styles used on a single broadside, with many of the fonts dating from the 1830s. The rally was organized to show support for the Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson. Delegates were to be chosen for the upcoming state convention and “… for such other business as may be thought advisable to maintain the Union, and promote the Peace and Prosperity of the Country, in which meeting all persons are invited to participate who are Opposed to NEGRO SUFFRAGE and who endorse the Reconstruction policy of President Johnson.” It is ironic that another President Johnson went in a totally opposite direction nearly one hundred years later. Estimated at $3,500-5,000, it managed $3,120.

It appears that we have a chapter of “The Rail Splitters” in Toledo, Ohio, if this 1″ celluloid button offered on eBay with a starting bid of $75 is any indication. We doubt if they’ll be any takers at that level, but couldn’t resist showing it here. “The Rail Splitter” club has been around for a long time and we are just a reincarnation of that esteemed organization. The vendor speculated that this circa 1900 pin back was issued in conjunction with an effort to recruit Republican voters. Our efforts are purely non-partisan. The Lincoln “wigwam” has room for everybody!

William Jenack Galleries of Chester, New York had a sale on Super Bowl Sunday. It had a very impressive 22″ x 34″ Lincoln and Hamlin flag with “lazy shield” pattern. Estimated at $5,000-$7,000, there were four phone bidders along with three absentee bids placed via liveauctioneers.com. Bidding commenced at $9,250 with the winning bid placed through liveauctioneers. With 20% buyer’s premium, it came to $24,000. Had they chosen to bid by phone, they could have saved $2,000 and only paid 10% buyer’s premium. It “pays” to use the internet.

Norm Boas of Seaport Autographs in Mystic, Connecticut issues regular fixed-price catalogs. The lead item in the current catalog is a wonderful archive of documents related to the establishment of the Fort Rice Military Reservation in the Dakota Territory in 1864. Indian attacks had occurred throughout this time frame, targeting white settlers, trappers, hunters and railroad construction personnel. Because of the ongoing Civil War, few troops could be spared. The withholding of promised provisions and annuities resulted in the Sioux Uprising of 1862. Eight hundred white settlers were massacred and the insurgency squashed. Thirty-eight Sioux leaders were executed at Mankato, Minnesota. One of the men assigned security duty was Brigadier General Alfred Sully. He served under John Pope, Commander of the Department of the Northwest. Sully set up a military base at Fort Rice on July 7, 1863. Shortly thereafter, Federal troops routed Sitting Bull and his followers in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain. Sitting Bull did not agree to the peace treaty signed at Fort Laramie in 1868. Its provisions were violated in 1874 when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, events which led to the Battle of Little Bighorn. The archive contains documents that were part of an application to President Lincoln that would lead to the recognition of Fort Rice as a “recognized” Federal military site. Included are a letter from Acting Secretary of the Interior William J. Otto to President Lincoln recommending the establishment of a Fort Rice Reservation, Lincoln’s endorsement dated September 2, 1864, and a description of Fort Rice by General Sully tipped onto a hand-drawn map of the fort, accomplished by Sully. The fort was abandoned in 1878. A reconstructed site today serves as a tourist destination. The historic grouping is tagged at $19,000.

Al Anderson of Troy, Ohio just concluded his 162nd auction of political Americana. A Brady single portrait Lincoln ribbon in excellent shape sold for a solid $4,144. Al indicated this was the most watched item in the sale. A small Lincoln & Hamlin Inauguration Ball dance card was guided at $100 and seemed like a possible sleeper. It was issued for one of the “satellite” balls held throughout the Northeast on the same day as the official ball in Washington, D.C. This particular one was conducted at Breed Hall in Norwich, Connecticut. It made a somewhat surprising $1,466. You just can’t keep good Lincoln stuff buried… it always rises to the top!

Chuck Hand of Paris, Illinois is a very knowledgable and reputable dealer in Lincoln-related books and ephemera. We recently checked out his web site (www.lincolnbooks.net) and present some representative offerings. A nice framed display that features a 4″ x 3″ index card with signed greeting by Boston Corbett from 1876, is $3,000. CDVs of Lincoln, Booth and Corbett, as well as an illustration of Ford’s Theatre, complete the presentation. An 1865 account of Lincoln’s pre-inaugural and funeral journeys by William T. Coggleshall is $365. The catalog entry describes it: “LINCOLN MEMORIAL. THE JOURNEYS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN: FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON, 1861 AS PRESIDENT ELECT; AND FROM WASHINGTON TO SPRINGFIELD, 1865, AS PRESIDENT MARTYRED; COMPRISING AN ACCOUNT OF PUBLIC CEREMONIES ON THE ENTIRE ROUTE, AND FULL DETAILS OF BOTH JOURNEYS. Columbus: Ohio State Journal, 1865, 1st edition, 327 pages, new spine, boards show wear on all edges, new endpapers, fair+ condition. M455 – Factual account. Names of guards of honor and diagrams of seats, etc., at ceremonies in different cities.” A stereo view showing the Old Capital Prison where the conspirators were executed and Booth temporarily buried is $125. A framed group that features a playbill for John Wilkes Booth’s performance in “Othello” is $1,200. Finally, two scraps of wallpaper, retrieved as souvenirs from the room at the Peterson House where Lincoln passed is $1,500. As they say, if “these walls could only speak!”

Freeman’s in Philadelphia held a book and manuscripts sale in February. A collection of N. C. Wyeth material was featured. Included was a charcoal sketch by Wyeth, measuring 15 5/8″ x 13″, circa 1920s. It was described as a “Study for Lincoln’s Second Inaugural”. Estimated at $8,000-$10,000, it realized $18,750.

Some eBay sales in early 2012. Many campaign items were “homemade jobs” and therefore one-of-a-kind. This 3″ ax is carved out a single piece of wood. Paper labels, likely excised from a campaign document from 1860 have been affixed. Displaying requisite aging and character, it sold on eBay for $325. A good deal, if you “ax” us!

A vendor from Gorlitz, Germany listed this CDV with portraits of Lincoln, Seward and Grant. There were no markings, but we assume it was produced in Germany in 1862 or 1863. It sold for $71.

Ebay continues to bring to light never-before-seen portraits of historical figures… and who are we to question their attribution? Offered with a “Buy it Now” price of $475,000 is an item listed as: “John Wilkes Booth by Victor Nehlig 1864… an original oil painting on canvas… A fantastic old painting that depicts an actor on stage. It features John Wilkes Booth in costume brandishing a saber in a stage setting, complete with props on a table. Many 19th century actors posed for photographs in this manner, standing next to a library table with props that often were related to their roles.” O.K. Sounds credible!

Another dramatic offering from an Ebay dealer is more modestly priced (a mere $199,995!) this: “Ambro Type Portrait Mary Todd Lincoln Wearing Campaign Brooch – No Beard Lincoln.” First, the word is ambrotype. Second, it’s not. Third, it’s not.

And, speaking of photographica, two remarkable pieces are offered from the SAME Ebay dealer! (What are the chances of one guy finding two treasures?!?) Priced at $7,200: “Superb historical daguerreotype of Senator Stephen Douglas, chief political rival of Abraham Lincoln. Large 1/4 plate size marked C D Fredricks. This was the most prominent photographic studio in NYC patronized by the upper classes of NY and beyond…Web pages on Fredricks credit him with being the photographer of choice for celebrities of the theatre, politics, and leaders of society and the military. The Fredricks mark is always a good indication that the sitter is a prominent subject and not just a common person. So if the sitter in a Fredricks photograph looks like someone famous it is someone famous. Now in 1858 Stephen Douglas was 45 years of age which corresponds to the age of the man in this picture. This daguerreotype of Douglas has a perfect likeness to other well-known images of Douglas who was called “the little giant”. Douglas had very distinctive features large head, pot belly but rather short. You can see by how much of the lower belly gets captured by the portrait that this is not a tall man. Photo being a daguerreotype captures the most precise facial marks and every skin crease is a match. The eyes are a light color. Clothing style of high shirt collar and bow tie knot are correct. Most interesting is the pocket watch chain which is not only worn in the same fashion as that seen in another famous historical photo, it is the very same chain having a large button hole hook. The typical watch chain ends in a horizontal bar. As one who deals in antique jewelry and pocket watches, I do not recall ever seeing a pocket watch chain with this kind of larger end hook. In the 1850s pocket watches were not widely owned by the common man and were an upper class luxury. I have found only 2 photographs of Douglas wearing a pocket watch chain and their general date is estimated at 1855-1861. Douglas has his rooster comb hairdo at its best in these other watch chain photographs.” That’s a heck of a lot of info on pocket watch chains! The same dealer has for $4,200 a “Superb historical daguerreotype of Senator William Seward. Founder of Alaska and one of the major historical figures of the mid 1800s period. 1/6 plate size marked Anson 589 Broadway NY. This was the finest photographic studio in NYC patronized by the upper classes of NY. Dates from 1853 to the 1860s. In this period William Seward was Senator from NY and aged mid to late 50s. Sitter for this photograph has the correct facial features, clothes, correct geographical location, and the correct age to be Seward. The ear cartilage is as unique to a person as a fingerprint and shows here an excellent match. Seward also had some unique diagonal wrinkle lines across his cheekbones. His dress has the right style of knot to the bow tie and a vest that covers up most of the shirt. Correct build… Seward was a key member of Lincoln’s cabinet and on the hit list of John Wilkes Booth.” Anyone notifying the National Portrait Gallery?