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Marketplace 2022

December 31, 2022

Heritage Auctions finally held the inaugural sale of items from the legendary J. Doyle Dewitt Collection on March 19, 2022. Several records were shattered, although some things went reasonably. It constituted a good opportunity for collectors to add something to their collections with a “Cadillac pedigree”. A scrimshaw whale’s tooth depicted a beardless Lincoln flanked by draped flags, an eagle below, and an all seeing “Wide Awake” eye above. Exuding a great deal of charm, it sold for $13,750.

A homemade tin & glass lantern from the same campaign was inscribed on four sides with campaign slogans: Lincoln & Hamlin, Onward Upward, Old Abe, Wide Awake. It was fitted to be carried on a pole. It made $17,500. 

A Wide Awake kepi in a striking stars & stripes design was highly contested and realized $13,750.

A pair of label-under-glass wine bottles, one with an encased albumen of Lincoln, the other with an encased albumen of Grant, were patented September 23, 1862 and were the earliest label-under-glass “back bar” bottles we have ever seen. The Lincoln was perfect and included its original retractable ball stopper. These sold for $7500. We wouldn’t be surprised if they resurface at a bottle auction.

A hand-colored version of the 1860 Currier & Ives baseball-theme cartoon featured all four candidates hit a grand slam home run when it achieved a record price of $81,250. That record may never be broken. 

Talking about records that may never be broken, the collection included a Douglas & Johnson jugate “Brady” silk ribbon. It is the key to completing the set and only one of two examples known. The previous one, also sold by Heritage, made $37,500. This one had no respect for precedent, selling to a phone bidder for $118,750.

Just five lots later, the same phone bidder paid the same price, $118,750, for a Douglas “George Clark” ambrotype badge, a signature piece from the Dewitt holdings. The “Little Giant” still commands attention and respect!

A 9.5” plaster bust of Jefferson Davis, sculpted by Frederick Volck of Richmond, circa 1862, was a good buy at $4,500. It served as the basis of the portrait used on the Confederate 10-cent postage stamp. Frederick’s older brother, Adelbert, is famous for etching a series of “suppressed” anti-Lincoln cartoons.

A tin & glass McClellan three-sided lantern, was yet another good buy, crossing the block at a mere $3,000. It had the slogan “Little Mac” on one side. Heritage sold the Lincoln mate a few years back. The low price may reflect a shift in taste from the “old school” to the “new school” of collectors. Still, a single display piece such as this engages the viewer and carries more clout than a frame of “smalls”.

Eldred’s Marine sale August 4, 2022:

“POLYCHROME ENGRAVED WALRUS TUSK ATTRIBUTED TO CHARLES MANGHIS.  Depicts a headdress, five-pointed stars, Lady Liberty, a ‘In Union is Strength’ banner, two spread-wing eagles, one with a ‘Liberty and Union One and Inseparable …’ banner, a bust portrait of Abraham Lincoln and a sheaf of wheat. Serrated border at base. * Per Federal Regulation, this item may only be purchased by a Massachusetts resident and will not be shipped out of state.” Length 22.5”. $1375.

A rare Stephen Douglas postally used campaign cover was offered on eBay. It harkened back to Douglas’s early years as a carpenter. Similar designs refer to him as the “Cabinet maker”. This ploy was insufficient to overcome the “Rail Splitter”. It sold for $438. 

An unusual 1864 Fremont for President campaign cover in lavender, postally used, just crossed the block on eBay, making a strong $1324.

Antiques Associates at West Townsend carries a large inventory of historical Americana and antiques. They are currently offering a 22.5” tall plaster bust of a beardless Lincoln. It is done in the Roman style and is inscribed on the back side “J. S. Sculptor 1860”. Listed at $8350. 

Thomaston Place held an auction on January 14, 2022 that contained an interesting Lincoln relic. The description follows:

“Child-sized Kentucky Percussion Rifle with presentation engraving in the wood of the stock, from Philadelphia gun maker Joseph Golcher, active 1836-1855. 25″ octagonal barrel, 41″ long overall, brass double hair trigger guard, butt plate, patchbox, with original ramrod. Stock was later engraved ‘My Dearest Son, Robert Todd Lincoln, Happy 12th Birthday, August 2, 1855’. First appeared on the market in NYC at the 1945 antiques exhibition at Madison Square Garden. Includes original 1945 receipts and program from the NYC Antiques Show of 1945 that contains the dealer in the listing.”

The provenance (which we didn’t have access to) seems, on the surface, sketchy and inconclusive. August 2, 1855 was indeed Robert’s 12th birthday. That said, there are a lot of unknowns, including whether Robert had an interest in guns, whether Lincoln typically gave birthday gifts to his children at this juncture in his career (he is known to have given gifts to Tad on numerous occasions) and whether the wording used on the inscription (“Happy 12th Birthday”) was typical of the popular vernacular of 1855. We don’t recall seeing examples of “Happy Birthday” from documents or writings of the period. Of greater concern is the placement of the inscription, stamped into the wooden rifle butt. Presentation inscriptions were typically engraved on silver metal plaques attached to the butt, or engraved on the top of the barrel. The type font looks “right”. It’s possible that the gun dealer used metal printing type to impress the words. Still, because of the curvature of the wood, areas “drop off”, making some of the letters shallow and less distinct. The item could certainly be legit, but the “jury is still out” as far as we’re concerned. It sold for $30,000.

Rex Stark of Gardner, Massachusetts has been “coming up with the good stuff” for as long as we can remember. At age 74, he is still extremely active, though, like many of us, there is “less bounce” to his step. We suggest you get on his mailing list, if not already on it. All items are offered at fixed price, One of his recent sales is an anti-Lincoln cartoon CDV published in Philadelphia titled “Idol of Abolitionism”. A very rare piece that quickly found a new home. 

Hess Fine Auctions in St. Petersburg, Florida held a sale on August 20, 2022. A Lincoln presentation pocket watch was estimated at $50,000-$75,000 and “sold” for $50,000 plus 25% buyer’s premium (possible reserve). Here is part of their description:

Extremely Rare Abraham Lincoln Gifted 1863 Pocket Watch For A life Saving Effort 18K Gold…This piece shows the well-known presidential seal while on the other side, in amazing detail, a scene of a ship wreck rescue. The inscription on the inner cuvet reads “from The President of the United States to Capt. Joseph Cook for the rescue of crew and passengers of the AM. Ship, Frank A Badger.” According to Waltham this particular model was patented in 1860, made in 1862 and gifted in 1863. Only 400 of the 19 S size were made. We guarantee the authenticity of this piece.  We have reference of the ship wreck with an article through the New York Times archive.  

Gold and silver medals, as well as gold pocket watches, were awarded to sea captains as tokens of appreciation for their heroic efforts in rescuing passengers and crew members from sinking US vessels. The issuers could be the people who were rescued, ship owners, benevolent maritime associations, US Presidents or, after 1874, the US Congress. Around 300 presidential watches were awarded. Examples that have recently sold include James Buchanan in 1857 ($15,500), Ulysses S. Grant in 1873 ($19,995) and Calvin Coolidge in 1926 (priced for fixed-price sale by a New Orleans dealer for $28,850). In 2013, Sotheby’s sold a watch presented by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to Captain John Williams of the British ship “Exodus” for assisting in the rescue of crew members of the “John Rhynas”. It sold for $19,000. Keeping in mind the soft market for pocket watches among timepiece collectors (the market “tanked” in the 1990s and has yet to recover), the market price for the Hess Lincoln watch should be around $20,000. If it did sell for $62,500, that would indeed be noteworthy. We’ll see if it “resurfaces” or not. 

Swann Galleries held a Printed & Manuscript Sale on September 29, 2022. A fine example of the iconic “Charleston Mercury” broadside, announcing  the dissolution of the Union, measured 23.25” 12.75” and sold for $18,750.  A pro-Confederate broadside, titled “People of Baltimore!”, was distributed shortly after the Pratt Street Riots, and handed out to the local citizenry on April 21, 1861. Measuring 17.75” x 12.75”, it urged people to abandon their allegiance to the Union and join armed resistance. It realized $9375. 

An engraved dinner invitation to the Lincoln White House, dated February 8, 1865 and issued to the wife of Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, made $1875. The matching invite to Welles was previously sold by Heritage Auctions for $7500. Will they be re-united? Finally, a coated stock card pass to Lincoln’s funeral in the “East” Room of the White House was offered. Measuring 3.25” x 5”, it made $4500.

Bonham’s in Los Angeles had a “household” or weekly sale on October 3, 2022 that included a 26” plaster bust of Lincoln by Leonard Volk. It was signed and dated 1860 by the artist on one side, but did not include the June 12, 1860 patent date, so may have been cast after the patent expired in 1873. It sold for $3570. 

Heritage Auctions in Dallas held a sale on October 15, 2022 that was comprised mainly of items from the J. Doyle Dewitt Collection with some other properties. A hand-painted banner for the Belfast, Maine Wide Awakes was selected as the cover lot and sold for $50,000. Two-sided, it was 41” x 35”.

The finest example known of the finest Lincoln & Hamlin jugate ribbon normally would have sold for $12,000 or so, but collectors realized this was a “rare” opportunity and pushed the price to a record $27,500. A “Charlotte Wide Awake Girls” silk portrait ribbon, one of just a handful known, and likely the finest specimen, hammered for $12,188.

Keeping with the Wide Awake theme, a mounted salt print depicting the officers of the New Haven Wide Awakes, dated September 4, 1860, realized $21,250. 

A color version of the Currier & Ives cartoon, “The Political Gymnasium” seems to favor the ticket of Bell & Everett, even though all four candidates are represented. It made a solid $8,125. 

A train timetable for the first leg of Lincoln’s pre-inaugural trip, dated February 11, 1861, is the first example to appear at auction in recent memory. Lincoln delivered his famous “Farewell Address to the Citizens of Springfield” prior to departing for Washington, never to return. Sold together with a press pass for his stopover in Philadelphia, it left the auction house station for $6875. Finally, a fabulous Gideon Welles ALS, written January 31, 1861, displayed extraordinary content in supporting the President-elect, under whom he would serve honorably during the course of the war. In part: “…The decision and firmness of the President-elect begin already to inspire the people with confidence, and, place him in position, as he will be on and after the 4th of March, and he will rally the country behind him. Our friends hardly realize the change that will take place in public sentiment with a change of administration. No men of either party have the least confidence in the present executive; but the President will himself be a tower of strength for the country and the Union after the 4th of March. I do not see the necessity of amending the Constitution or reconstructing the government because Lincoln is elected – no one would have expected or asked for it, had Breckinridge been chosen. It is impossible for the government to make concessions to armed-treason with demoralization and degradation… Moreover, friend Fogg, the compromise period is about done with… It was not the policy of Clay to dispose of great questions on their merits, but to get rid of them by a compromise. In this way the country has been badly trained, the Whigs always yielding, and the Democrats exacting. Hence the present difficulties, for the Republican Party has an element in it that the Whig Party did not – an element that admire the genius of Clay though not governed by his policy. The opposite party find that the Republicans will not back down and yield like the Whigs… I shall be glad to hear from you while at W. should you remain till Mr. L. reaches W.” At $5250, we have to think the winning bidder will safely navigate a course towards profit. 

Hindman’s in Chicago (pronounced “Hynd-mun”) held a sale on November 3-4, 2022. The first, and rarest, version of the John Wilkes Booth reward broadside was a featured item. Measuring 10 1/2” x 12 1/2” and designated the “Common Council” version, it is believed to be one of just five examples extant. It sold for $31,250. An attractive ceramic plaque, 6 1/2” in diameter, produced in Germany to commemorative Lincoln’s 1861 inauguration, realized $4688. Finally, an anti-McClellan cartoon titled “The Chicago Platform”, publisher unknown, issued for the 1864 election, achieved $1375. 

A 28” x 42” broadside issued to advertise a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Alton, Illinois, surfaced on eBay with a Buy-It-Now price of $535. Quite graphic and colorful, it is the only example we have encountered. 

Hake’s Americana held a sale on November 15th. A Currier & Ives Grand National Banner for Douglas & Johnson likely qualifies as the finest example known. It had full borders with lavish colors. It was sold decades ago by the Old Print Shop in New York City for $600, flipped to a New Jersey collector (who relocated to Florida) for $800 and remained there for 40+ years until his recent passing. It sold for a strong $6944. A single portrait beardless Lincoln ferrotype, slightly dark as-made, with two slits on the verso to accommodate a ribbon, was a reasonable $649. A Lincoln & Hamlin ferrotype jugate, lacking the stickpin, as do most, was a “good deal” for $1267. In contrast, a common Lincoln “Rail Splitter” token in choice condition, was a “bad deal” in comparison, realizing a record $1336. Auctions are unpredictable and maybe that’s half the fun!

Steve Hayden, the Civil War token guy, held an online auction on December 11, 2022. An example of DeWitt AL-1864-34. graded MS63, sold for a record $3502. We note, with some angst on our part, that an MS64 example in the Ford Collection realized a mere $1527 back in 2013. We missed the boat on that one! An MS64 example of AL-1860-34 realized $1005. This is a true classic and must-have for any Lincoln collector. An MS64 example of AL-1860-45 exceeded that mark, crossing the block for $1510. In coin collecting, it’s “condition, condition, condition.” 

An example of the elusive “Wide Awake Pictorial” cartoon “newspaper” was offered by a Binghampton, New York vendor in December. Listed under “Art Prints”, it escaped the notice of most collectors. We estimate there are only four copies in private hands and one in institutional holdings (the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield). It is possibly the finest example known and traded hands for a most reasonable $2125. In examining the cover artwork closely, we were inspired by the pithy commentaries of “60 Minutes” correspondent Andy Rooney (“Did you ever notice?”). The marcher with muttonchops on the extreme left is holding torches with both hands. The fellow next to him, wearing a goatee, appears to have his hand on the other guy’s ass. Was this intentional, or simply poor execution? 

University Archives held a sale on December 14, 2022. A lot containing three CDVs of Lincoln included a never-before-seen anti-Lincoln cartoon on a Brady mount. Appropriately titled “The Rail Splitter”, it sold together with the other two “throw-ins” for $937. No doubt, a Lincoln specialist “glommed on” to it. 

Pacific Book Auctions conducted an auction on December 15, 2022. There was one lot of Lincoln ephemera that caught our eye. The key items were an 1865 inaugural ball invitation and an 1860 post-election celebration invitation for the Oswego [N.Y.] Wide-Awakes. The lot description, in part:

5 plastic sleeves. 22×28 (8½x11″), loose items housed in sleeves.


  • Printed invitation to Lincoln’s second inauguration: “National Inauguration Ball. March 4th, 1865.” Recipient’s name blank.
  • Ballot guide for Baltimore City Third District: “The Union forever! For president, Abraham Lincoln. For vice-president, Andrew Johnson. For electors of the state of Maryland for President and Vice-President of the United States. … For Governor, Thomas Swann …”
  • Invitation: “Grand Jubilee Ball of the Lincoln and Hamlin. Oswego Wide-Awakes, at Doolittle Hall, Thursday Evening, November. 22d, 1860, to celebrate the recent republican victory. Your company is respectfully solicited. … Tickets, $2,00, supper extra…” Printed by Oliphant & Bro. Printers. Advertisement.
  • News clipping.
  • 10 pages of holograph manuscripts with corrections for chapters published in Abraham Lincoln: Tributes from His Associates, Reminiscences of Soldiers, Statesmen and Citizens (New York/Boston: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, [1895]). Authors’ included in this lot: L. E. Chittenden; Grace Greenwood; Charles Hamlin; Wayland Hoyt, D.D.; William O. Stoddard.
  • Small photo of Abraham Lincoln with son Tad Lincoln.
  • The Opinions of Abraham Lincoln upon Slavery and its Issues: Speeches, Letters, Messages, and Proclamations. Printed by L. Towers for the Union Congressional Committee. 16pp. (8vo) unbound.

The collection achieved $3125.

An eBay vendor recently offered an example of an unusual Lincoln memorial medal, King-276, with a Buy-It-Now price of $150. It featured a U. S. Treasury “cancellation mark” dated 1869.