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Marketplace 2020

November 8, 2020

Sotheby’s held a manuscripts sale on January 27th, following “Americana Week” in New York. Here is their catalog description for a Lincoln letter with exceptional content:

AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (“A. LINCOLN”), TO JOSHUA REED GIDDINGS, ABOUT HIS HOPE FOR DIVINE ASSISTANCE AS HE BEGINS HIS CAMPAIGN FOR THE PRESIDENCY

One page (9 3/4 x 7 3/4 in.; 248 x 197 mm) on blue-ruled machine-laid paper, Springfield, 21 May 1860, docketed on verso; lightly soiled and stained, some fold separations and tiny marginal chips.

Lincoln seeks divine assistance as the Republican candidate for the presidency: “May the Almighty grant that the cause of truth, justice, and humanity, shall in no wise suffer at my hands.”

Three days before writing this letter, Abraham Lincoln learned by telegraph that he had been nominated for President by the Republican Party Convention in Chicago. Joshua R. Giddings, an ardent abolitionist who had just retired from the House of Representatives after serving as a congressman from Ohio for more than two decades, wrote a letter of congratulations to Lincoln stating that the latter had secured the nomination because of his honesty and freedom from corrupt men and advising that the candidate should place himself under obligation to no one. Giddings entrusted the letter to Amos Tuck, a former U.S. Representative from Exeter, New Hampshire, who was delivering a speech at Springfield on May 21.

Lincoln here warmly acknowledges Giddings’s letter, while expressing some apprehension at the daunting task he faced. “My good friend. Your very kind and acceptable letter of the 19th. was duly handed me by Mr. Tuck. It is indeed, most grateful to my feelings, that the responsible position assigned me, comes without conditions, save only such honorable ones as are fairly implied. I am not wanting in the purpose, though I may fail in the strength, to maintain my freedom from bad influences. Your letter comes to my aid in this point, most opportunely. May the Almighty grant that the cause of truth, justice, and humanity, shall in no wise suffer at my hands.” Lincoln closes on a personal note: “Mrs. L. joins me in sincere wishes for your health, happiness, and long life.”
The uncertainty evident in Lincoln’s wish that he be equal to the task was predicated on the issues that would bring on the dissolution of the Union and Civil War. His election, though, was never really in doubt: with the fractured Democrat Party essentially running three rival candidates (Stephen A. Douglas, Northern Democratic Party; John C. Breckenridge, Southern Democratic Party; and John Bell, Constitutional Union Party) their vote was hopelessly split, and Lincoln swept to an overwhelming Electoral College victory despite polling less than forty percent of the popular vote.
The letters of both Giddings and Lincoln demonstrate that they were unaware of the backroom machinations of Lincoln’s campaign managers at the Chicago convention, which included promises of cabinet positions for some of the other contenders for the nomination. Giddings himself benefited from Lincoln’s election; the President appointed him as U.S. consul general in Canada, a position he filled until his death at Montreal in May 1864.
LITERATURE: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Basler, 4:51–52 (text from the retained draft in the Lincoln Papers, with the recipient’s copy unlocated). Selling price: $175,000.


HCA Auctions in North Carolina conducted a sale on January 18th which included a large selection of Confederate material. A 14” x 8.5” broadside announcing a rally celebrating Georgia’s secession from the Union on January 19, 1861, sold for $4687. It is the only example we recall seeing.


A small silk Confederate Bible flag caught our eye when offered on eBay. The eleven stitched stars in the canton were arranged like a South Carolina palmetto tree. The central white stripe was embroidered “Jeff. Davis forever!” Found tucked in an old book, it saw a lot of action and realized $4050. 


Wes Cowan held a timed sale which concluded on January 24th. A 12 1/4” x 17 1/2” folk art portrait of Lincoln, after the Hesler photograph, sold for $544. It was an oil on canvas, laid on board, and signed indistinctly in the upper right corner. The cataloger thought it might date from 1860. Maybe. 


Leland Little of Hillsborough, North Carolina held a sale on January 24th. A 48-page pamphlet, printed in New York City in 1863, lacking the rear cover, generated a lot of interest. It recounted the horrors visited upon the colored population of the city and documented the relief efforts mounted in the aftermath of the carnage. Private citizens raised $40,000 in this cause. The booklet, which apparently is very rare, sold for $1353. 


Christies held a sale which included a marble bust of Lincoln, executed in 1918 by George Grey Barnard (1863-1938). It “stood” 21 1/2” tall. Enough people liked it to push the price up to $17,500. A solid, weighty purchase. 


A very unusual CDV with a “St. Louis Agency” mark back depicts Grant in his dress uniform. We don’t recall seeing any other examples. Offered on eBay, the winning bid was $293.


A 4” x 6” brass stencil promoting Andrew Johnson in the 1864 election is a previously-unknown item and was likely used to decorate envelopes sent through the emails. Offered on eBay, it sold for $410.


Stack’s recently held a sale in Baltimore, part of the annual Whitman Coin Show. A copper example of AL-1864-5, graded MS66, sold for $5280.


The matching McClellan, GMcC-1864-21, graded MS65, went for $1680.


A very rare assassination medal by George Lovett, Baker-230, climbed to a record high of $5040. Many of the pieces in this sale were from the William Spohn Baker Collection of Washingtoniana held by a Pennsylvania historical society since 1897.


An eBay vendor is currently offering a Fassett CDV of Union General Joseph Hooker in his dress uniform, tagged at $450 (Buy-It-Now). Hooker was in Chicago as commander of the army contingent of the “Lincoln Honor Guard” escorting the President’s body enroute to its burial in Springfield. Fassett supposedly photographed all the officers in this elite cadre during their brief stopover in Chicago.


Thomaston Place Auctions held an auction on February 28, 2020 that included a rare 17” x 12” Lincoln flag. The stars in the canton spelled the word “Free”. It had some serious condition issues and, even though the opening bid was $5,000, it eventually rose to $38,025. 


A 4” x 6” parade flag depicting Jefferson Davis was offered on eBay in February 2020.  Made of polished cotton, the design was identical to that seen on patriotic covers. Like homemade Bible flags, the provenance stated it had been carried throughout the war by a soldier in the “lost cause”. It was quickly snapped up for a Buy-It-Now price of $1949. 


Heritage Auctions held a sale on February 22, 2020 that included several interesting Lincoln items. A 9.75” x 7.75” mounted albumen of the Mohawk Wide Awakes was a recent find in a Saratoga antique mall for $25. It was in great condition with two “inset” portraits of members of the troupe, mounted on coated stock with blue lettering. Research indicates the post-election event was organized by Francis Spinner of Utica, later to become United States Treasurer. The band members assembled in the front rows and it appears they had a placard identifying themselves, for advertising purposes, placed on the ground, but the photographer crossed off the name. It sold for $18,750.

An 9” x 11.5” piece of 1860 campaign calligraphy/folk art featured an oval salt print of a beardless Lincoln by William Marsh. Quite a lovely piece, it realized $3625.

Finally, a set of four law books used in the Lincoln-Herndon law office, well-documented and signed multiple times by Herndon, generated a good deal of interest. With most volumes needing repair, they still managed $6875.


In midst of the pandemic some auctions continued, many with incredibly robust results!  Case in point, in early April 2020 R & R auctioned this extraordinary 7.5” x 5.75” albumen print of a group of men posing with ‘The Lincoln Special,’ the funeral train of President Abraham Lincoln, whose portrait is fastened to the flag-draped front of the engine above the cow catcher The photo is affixed to the original 12” x 10” mount from the H. H. Reeves Studio of Newburgh, Ohio, with lower caption reading: “The Engine Which Drew The Body Of President Lincoln From Washington To Cleveland.” An extremely scarce photograph, even scarcer in this nice format and size, went to a lucky bidder for $3150 with buyer’s premium.


Freeman’s April 27, 2020 sale. “Rare red, white and blue painted tinware and zinc ‘Liberty’ cap with Civil War association to the ‘Pratt Street Riot’ mid-19th century. The cap, fitted on the underside with receptacle for pole, inscribed by hand in ink, ‘From the staff of which the Rebel Flag was carried on April 19th 1861 in Baltimore Md. in the attack on the Mass 6th.’ This is the only ‘Liberty’ or Phrygian Cap form parade pole finial known to exist. 8” tall.  PROVENANCE: Pennsylvania Collection.” $18,750.


American Heritage Auctions of Delaware, Ohio had an online sale on August 8, 2020. A near-pristine Lincoln & Johnson back-to-back ferrotype with eagle hanger hit a “home run” when it realized $4750. 


From Sotheby’s July 21, 2020  sale of “treasures” from the Eric Caren Collection:

“(LINCOLN, ABRAHAM)  The Rail Mauler. No. 12. Brownsville, Pennsylvania: Published at the office of the ‘Clipper’, Friday, September 21, 1860.  Folio, 4 pages (13 1/4 x 10 1/8 in.; 338 x 257 mm), title in ‘log letters’ and incorporating a fine woodcut vignette of Lincoln wielding a maul, text in four columns; lightly dampstained, disbound with the two leaves separated. The consignor has independently obtained a letter of authenticity from PSA that will accompany the lot.  A lively and very rare Lincoln campaign newspaper, much less common than the Rail Splitter. Edited by Seth T. Hurd, The Rail Mauler supported the candidacies of Lincoln, Hannibal Hamlin, and Andrew Curtin, the latter a successful gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania. The Mauler mixed straight reports on Lincoln’s campaign, reprinting many of his speeches and other commentary, with broader coverage of the activities of Democrats Stephen Douglas and John Breckinridge. The paper also featured unrelenting jibes leveled at the Democrats, providing an unvarnished look at the exuberant politicking of that century. Much of this issue is devoted to twitting Douglas over his claim that a campaign tour of New England and upstate New York was really just a personal visit to his elderly mother.   The Rail Mauler is not recorded in either Gregory’s Bibliography of Nineteenth-Century Newspapers or in Monaghan’s Lincoln Bibliography. In 1994, Sotheby’s sold a bound set of issues 2–11 (now in the Gilder Lehrman Institute), but issue 12 has evidently never before appeared at auction.”$1375.


The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago recently sold this copy of M-3739, an 1860 campaign biography of Lincoln printed in German and published in Chicago. The portrait on the cover is the same one used in a Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly centerfold. It is one of several such campaign biographies issued for the large German population, most of whom favored the Republican cause. Lincoln himself owned a German language newspaper. Lacking a back cover, with wear & tear, it was priced at $1250.


The Wide Awakes, even though they were active only in the election of 1860, did continue to issue ribbons and badges in the post-Civil War period. These artifacts either endorsed Republican presidential candidates (Blaine, Harrison, McKinley & Roosevelt) or were worn as souvenirs at club reunions. Some of these reunion ribbons are mistakenly seen as original campaign items. We picture a yellow satin ribbon dated 1860 for such an event held in White Hall, Illinois. The portrait of Lincoln is a bearded one, circa 1864, and the style and construction of the ribbon indicates a much later date of manufacture. Still, a rare and affordable “association” piece which was offered on eBay, but failed to sell. 


Soulis Auctions of Lone Jack, Missouri had a single-owner auction of folk art on September 19, 2020. A fantastic Lincoln pie safe was offered. It was truly a monumental piece, measuring 68” tall, 39” wide and 18” deep. It ay have been made for a commercial bakery, given its large capacity. There were eight tin panels on the front doors and four tin panels on each side. The panels were identically inscribed “Lincoln” and had flags & stars. The panels had remnants of the original light blue paint. Estimated at $6,000-$9,000, it realized $40,120. 


Swann Galleries, September 24, 2020  auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana:

“(CIVIL WAR.) Issue of the Waterford News, published by 3 young Unionist women in Confederate Virginia. 4 pages, 10¾ x 7½ inches, on one folding sheet; short separations at folds, minor foxing, and moderate edge wear. Waterford, VA, 20 August 1864. The Waterford News was published in Loudoun County in the northern tip of Virginia. Despite its close proximity to the West Virginia and Maryland borders, the area was largely under the control of Mosby’s Confederate raiders and subject to a strict Union blockade which led to severe shortages. The area was home to a vocal but embattled Quaker population which supported the Union. As a reaction to these desperate circumstances, three young Waterford Quaker women launched a pro-Union newspaper in May 1864, and somehow continued publishing monthly issues through May 1865, donating all proceeds to the United States Sanitary Commission. They were Sarah Steer (born 1837), Elizabeth Dutton (born 1839) and her sister Emma Eliza Dutton (born 1844), listed only as ‘Sarah, Lizzie & Lida’ on the masthead. The present issue begins with an endorsement of the Lincoln-Johnson ticket, and continues with small incidents of Union life in Confederate territory. A local telegraph operator who lugged his equipment down the railroad to make contact with Baltimore. A $14 newspaper subscription stolen by Mosby’s raiders from the post office. A recent Mosby raid which left Waterford ‘entirely surrounded by rebels, with their braggadocio,’ until they were dispersed by a party of 30 brave ‘Union boys.’ Even some terrible 19th-century puns (‘What is the most fashionable hood worn in the South? False-hood’). This newspaper’s existence is an inspiring story, its contents even more so. No other issues of the Waterford News have been traced at auction.” $4750.


Hill Auction Gallery of Sunrise, Florida conducted an auction on October 28, 2020. It included a 42” x 27” black & white artwork by James Montgomery Flagg depicting a parlor scene with President Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln and John Hay, along with two other personages. It sold for $1625. 


A piece of Southern sheet music, the “Secession Quick Step”, published in Macon, Georgia in late January 1861, was offered on eBay. Never-before-seen and quite graphic, it realized $2044. Georgia seceded from the Union on January 19, 1861, briefly forming the Republic of Georgia.


A silver medal worn by a member of the “Executive Committee” for the Great Central Sanitary Fair held in Philadelphia in June 1864, recently was listed on eBay. It made a “fair” $608.


Sotheby’s June 2020 American Art Auction. Estimate $600,000-900,000. Sold for $1,580,000.

Another example, if not the same exact one, was sold by Skinner’s on January 28, 2022 for $1,152,500. The Sotheby’s description, in full:

“AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS

1848 – 1907

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: THE MAN (STANDING LINCOLN)

inscribed AVGVSTVS-SAINT-GAVDENS-SCVLPTOR-M-DCCC-LXXXVII, COPYRIGHT 1912-A-H- SAINT-GAUDENS and stamped GORHAM CO. FOUNDERS QAWM (along the base)

bronze with brown patina

height: 40 inches (101.6 cm)

Cast in 1917.

Provenance

Tiffany & Co. Studios, New York 

Congressman Richard Young, Brooklyn, New York, 1928 (acquired from the above) 

Union League Club, Brooklyn, New York, 1928 (gift from the above)

Lincoln Mutual Savings Bank, before 1954 (acquired from the above) 

Washington Mutual Bank, New York, 1984 (acquired from the above)

Acquired by the present owner, 2002

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the most celebrated American sculptor of his day, originally created Abraham Lincoln: The Man (Standing Lincoln) as a larger-than-life sculpture to adorn Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Saint-Gaudens was awarded the commission in 1883, largely due to the success and popularity of his earlier Civil War-related projects such as the Farragut Monument in Madison Square Park and the Sherman Monument in Grand Army Plaza, both in New York. The Lincoln Park monument was formally dedicated on October 22, 1887 to great critical and popular acclaim. Beginning in 1910, the artist’s widow, Augusta, authorized the casting of commercial-sized reductions of the original monument. Extant correspondence, however, reveals that Saint-Gaudens was interested in reproducing his Standing Lincoln in a smaller scale during his lifetime, as by the 1890s the production of smaller versions of his monuments had become a common part of his practice, affording the artist a more regular source of income in between more sporadic public commissions.

The reductions of Lincoln: The Man, of which the present work is one, stand at 40 ½ inches high and were cast in an edition of approximately 17. Augusta first engaged Tiffany Studios in New York to create at least six examples, but moved production to Gorham Foundry in 1917, when Tiffany increased its rates. Augusta oversaw the production of the statuettes with shrewdness and remarkable foresight, keeping precise records, employing only the artist’s favored founders and deftly striving to sell examples to public institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her advocacy on behalf of her husband’s work profoundly contributed to their resulting quality. As Thayer Tolles explains, ‘All casts [of Lincoln: The Man], whether produced by Tiffany or by Gorham, exhibit a remarkable similarity in construction and surface appearance, evidence not only of their having been produced from a single bronze pattern but also of Augusta Saint-Gaudens’s discerning commitment to quality control’ (‘Abraham Lincoln: The Man (Standing Lincoln): A Bronze Statuette by Augustus Saint-Gaudens,’The Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 48, 2013., p. 232). Though the present work was cast by Gorham in 1917, it is probable that the foundry sent it to Tiffany Studios upon completion to be sold. The authorized estate casting of Saint-Gaudens’ works, including the Lincoln statuettes, stopped in the early 1920s, contributing to the infrequency with which they appear on the market today. Other examples are found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, the Detroit Institute of Art and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Saint-Gaudens prepared assiduously in advance of beginning to model Lincoln: The Man, closely examining the 19th President’s speeches and personal writings, in addition to studying contemporary photographs of him, including several taken by Matthew Brady. Saint-Gaudens also recalled his own memories of the legendary leader. Indeed, the artist encountered Lincoln in person on two occasions, once in New York City in 1861 just before he assumed the office of the Presidency, and again four years later during his funeral procession. Of the latter meeting, the artist remembered, “After joining the interminable line that formed somewhere down Chatham Street and led up by the bier at the head of the staircase, I saw Lincoln lying in state…  and I went back to the end of the line to look at him again. This completed my vision of the big man, though the funeral, which I viewed from the roof of the old Wallack’s Theater on Broome Street, deepened the profound solemnity of my impression’ (quoted in Ibid., p. 225). Saint-Gaudens finally began to construct on the sculpture during the summer of 1885 while spending time at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire, and recruited a six-foot-four local farmer named Langdon Morse to serve as the likeness for Lincoln’s well-known willowy frame. He also referenced a life mask of Lincoln’s face and casts of his right and left hands taken by the sculptor Leonard Wells Volk in the spring of 1860, creative decisions that enriched the authenticity the finished work exudes.

The clear reverence with which Saint-Gaudens viewed Lincoln is made clear through this striking depiction of him. Though Lincoln had attained nearly mythical status by this time, over 20 years after his assassination, Saint-Gaudens strove to capture the complexities of his humanity. In both the original monumental version and the subsequent reductions, he portrays Lincoln as a contemplative, perhaps conflicted figure, his head bowed in thought as his left hand seemingly absentmindedly strokes the lapel of his coat in front of a richly decorated Chair of State, which the artist based on the Throne of the Priest (ca. 330 B.C.) in the Theater of Dionysos in Athens. Ultimately, explains Tolles, ‘Saint-Gaudens presented Lincoln not as a man in action, but as a man in an intensely private, introspective moment, preparing to lift his head to address his audience… One contemporary noted that Lincoln’s ‘face was not exactly that of Narcissus’ and that, nonetheless, and despite Lincoln’s lanky ungainliness, Saint-Gaudens had successfully solved ‘the problem of being very real and yet indicating grandeur of character.’ In other words, he had presented Lincoln as an individual and a hero, both homely and majestic, as a thinker, an orator, a leader, and a defender of liberty” (Ibid., 227).


Sotheby’s Elsie & Philip Sang Collection manuscripts sale. October 14, 2020.

“ABRAHAM LINCOLN

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, MANUSCRIPT LETTER SIGNED (‘A. LINCOLN’) AS SIXTEENTH PRESIDENT, TO JOHN J. MEIER OF BROOKLYN, THANKING HIS SON FOR HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE UNION CAUSE

One page (9 ⅞ x 7 ¾ in.) on a bifolium of blue-ruled Executive Mansion letterhead,

body of the letter in the hand of presidential secretary Edward D. Neill, Washington, D.C., 6 September 6, 1864, docketed on the verso, ‘To Mothers brother.’

Despite being a wartime president, Lincoln was remarkably accessible, and more than most nineteenth-century presidents, he was inundated by letters, requests, and petitions from his constituents. Most of this incoming correspondence— averaging between 250 and 500 letters a day— was dealt with summarily by his small office staff (principally John G. Nicolay and John Hay) or sent on to an appropriate federal agency or department for response. In the introduction to Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President (Addison-Wesley, 1993), Harold Holzer described Lincoln’s mailbag as swollen ‘to nearly unmanageable proportions … with demands for favors, … a mind-numbing avalanche of requests for jobs, … pleas for pardons, requests for autographs, requests for passes through the lines, ideas on prosecuting the war, advice on political matters, pleas for private meetings, and letters accompanying gifts of all value and sizes, … compliments and criticism of the President, and of nearly all the cabinet and military officers he had appointed, … the inevitable ravings of seers, soothsayers, and mystics, and threats both violent and profane.’ (pp. 5, 32-33).

Nicolay later recalled that Lincoln probably saw only one out of every one hundred letters sent to him, although Hay remembered the ratio as closer to one out of every fifty. But occasionally a letter would elicit a personal response from the overtaxed President. Most often these were requests for a contribution of an autograph or relic for sale in support of the Sanitary Commission

But in the midst of Lincoln’s 1864 reelection campaign against George B. McClellan, the former commander-in-chief of the Union Army, a letter from an immigrant in Brooklyn, dated September 2, reached Nicolay’s desk and then was brought to the attention of the President. The author of the letter, John J. Meier, proudly explained that three generations of his family supported Lincoln in his determination to end slavery and preserve the Union. Meier also made reference to the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher’s fiercely antislavery Plymouth Church, which served as a station on the Underground Railroad and where Lincoln himself twice worshipped.

I take the liberty to enclose to your care Five dollars, being the proceeds of some German currency, sent to me by my only child, James B Meier, for the last eighteen months at school in Düsseldorf.

He writes me that he has been ‘saving up his pennies’ in order that he might ‘help the sick and wounded of our brave boys, fighting for the glorious cause of truth and freedom’ as he is ‘not yet old enough to fight.’

Will you respected Sir accept my ‘Boys offering’ even tho’ small, and may I ask of you the great favour of one word of acknowledgement, in his behalf, it will tend to encourage our true hearted Girls & Boys in our Sunday Schools, and especially of the Plymouth Church SS (Mr Beechers) of which my Boy was a member, he needs in these times of fearful trial, to use every legitimate means to inculcate and energize the doctrine of a true ‘God fearing patriotism’ and especially among our rising youth throughout the land.

Permit me to add one word. My Father died here at the age of 86 praying for the blessing of Heaven upon yourself and our beloved adopted Country, he was one of the earliest signers of the first petition that was presented to the British Parliament praying for the abolition of the Slave trade.

We are Scotch and have lived in this blessed land over 30 years and our ‘Clan’ of relatives will muster our 50 votes, loyal and true for your honoured name, the coming election, as they did on the previous one, and some of them have sealed their title to the ‘good cause’ in many a hard fought field during the last three years.

And now may the God of Abraham Isaac & Jacob be your support & comfort and everlasting succor. And may an eventual ‘peace’ be the ‘work of righteousness,’ in ‘quietness and assurance forever.’

Meier signed his letter as Lincoln’s ‘prayerful well-wisher and obt. Servant.’ Before passing the letter onto Lincoln, Nicolay summarized its contents in a note on the back of the second page: ‘Jno. J. Meier, Brooklyn, N.Y. Sep 2, 64, Sends $5, the savings of his son, at school in Dusseldorf to be used for the soldiers. Wants the President to send his son a little note.’

Lincoln was famously indulgent of all children (including his own), and this letter from James Meier’s father must have especially appealed to him as it shared his own view that in the prosecution of the War, the preservation of the Union and the elimination of slavery were two sides of a single coin. With Nicolay’s assistance, Lincoln drafted a reply, which extensively quoted the boy’s original letter to his father. Another of the President’s personal secretaries, Edward D. Neill, then neatly copied the text onto a sheet of engraved Executive Mansion letterhead for Lincoln’s signature, and the reply was sent to Meier, senior, on September 6.

You write me under date of the 2nd inst. that your boy, who is at school at Dusseldorf, has for the last eighteen months been ‘saving up his pennies,’ and has sent you the proceeds, amounting to five dollars, which you enclose, to ‘help the sick and wounded of our brave boys fighting for the glorious cause of truth and freedom,’ as he is himself ‘not yet old enough to fight.’

The amount is duly received, and shall be devoted to the object indicated. I thank your boy, not only for myself, but also for all the children of the nation, who are even more interested than those of us, of maturer age, that this war shall be successful, and the Union be maintained and perpetuated.

Since James Meier already had several older relatives in the Union Army, his father must have been particularly grateful to receive Lincoln’s letter of thanks with its clear implication that he hoped the War would be successfully concluded before James and others of the nation’s youth would have to take up arms.

Lincoln’s letter reached John Meier at 51 Columbia Street in Brooklyn, as demonstrated by a later familial pencil note on the back: ‘“To Mothers brother.’ But the Meier family evidently guarded the letter so carefully that it completely vanished from sight. It might otherwise be as famous as Lincoln’s celebrated reply to Mrs. Horace Mann regarding the ‘Little Peoples’ Petition,’ which was distributed throughout the North in facsimile reproductions earlier in 1864.

Meier’s letter to Lincoln survives among the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, and it was even included (with a number of errors in transcription) in Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President, compiled and edited by Harold Holzer, pp. 219¬-20. The text of Lincoln’s reply has been known because the draft is also a part of the Papers at the Library of Congress, but while The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (vol. 7: 538-39) assumed that Lincoln signed and sent a final version of the letter, that had never been confirmed before now. Est. $700,000-$1,000,000. “ No sale.


Offered by Diana J. Rendell, Inc.  at the November 2020 ABAA Boston Virtual Book Fair, priced at $5000, an original Thomas Nast sketch showing Edwin Booth playing Iago. 

“NAST, THOMAS. Original Autograph Sketch Signed, ‘Th. Nast’ 1889, measuring 7 x 9 ¼”. Fine condition. Nast was a German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist who was the Father of the American Cartoon. He was the scourge of Boss Tweed and the Tammany Hall political machine. Among his notable works were the creation of the modern depiction of Santa Claus and the political symbol of the elephant for the Republican Party and the donkey for the Democratic Party. Nast was associated with the Harper’s Weekly magazine. Edwin Booth was universally recognized as the greatest tragedian of the 19th century American stage. He played numerous Shakespeare characters. In 1889, Booth toured in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ playing the evil character, Iago. In terms of deceiving, scheming, and Machiavellian ambition, Iago is Shakespeare’s most sinister villain. It is his talent for garnering trust and taking advantage of his victim’s own motivations and weaknesses that makes him such an effective scoundrel. Iago is a treacherous character who effortlessly manipulates all those around him to do his bidding and is cunning enough to betray Othello while simultaneously maintaining an honest reputation. Nast seems to depict Booth as Iago enveloped in a cloud of suspicion which sets off a chain of events that are destructive to Othello and all others he is able to manipulate.”


American Heritage Auctions of Ohio, an online firm that gets a lot of Civil War material, offered an unusual sixth-plate tintype of two “abolitionists” in their November 14, 2020 sale. The pair were each wearing Phyrgian liberty caps inscribed “Liberty” around the base. The preserver was dated September 19, 1862, just three days prior to the issuance of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. It sold for $1000. 


Cowan’s Auctions of Cincinnati (now owned by Hindman’s) held three auctions in 2020 that featured some choice Lincoln-related photographs. On February 19th, they sold a ninth plate ambrotype of an identified Wide Awake marcher from New Hampshire. His cape and kepi both appear to be “rainproof”. It is interesting to see the new appearance of the torch and to realize the extensive varieties of headgear employed. It sold for $7500.

On June 26th, Wes sold a fabulous copy image sixth plate tintype of Lincoln, O-5, taken in Beardstown, Illinois by 18-year old photographer Benjamin Byers. Wearing his iconic white linen duster, Lincoln was engaged in the famous “Almanac Trial” at the time. Outside of the original quarter-plate image owned by a museum, this is is the only example in the public domain. It made $18,750.

On November 19th, an outdoor CDV showing Alexander Gardner’s Washington, D.C. studio went for $6875.


Case Auctions of Nashville sold a small Confederate broadside from Kentucky on February 29, 2020. It had great content and talked about driving out “Lincoln’s abolition minions of the North, who have burned your houses, destroyed your property, laid waste your fields, stolen and run off your negroes, and insult and abuse your wives and daughters.” It made a deserved $7000.