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January 31, 2024

Starting off the New York with a bang! On January 1st, an eBay vendor sold an Anthony/Brady CDV (O-104), taken in February 1865. Lincoln was apparently having a “bad hair” day, as his hair is standing on end and he seems rather unsettled. The example being offered was not in tip-top shape, having several globs of glue towards the bottom and light soiling. In addition to the Anthony/Brady back mark, it had a tax stamp and a label of another photographic gallery pasted over. That said, rarity came to the fore and it realized a surprising $3703. 


Christies had a manuscripts sale on January 17th that included several lots of interest. We feature two of them, along with the complete catalog description:

LINCOLN, Abraham (1809-1865). Autograph letter signed as President (“A. Lincoln”) to Andrew Johnson, Washington, 3 July 1862.

One page, bifolium, 252 x 198mm, on lined stationery bearing a blind stamp of the Capitol at top left (a few spots of soiling, else very clean and bright).

Lincoln beseeches Andrew Johnson for additional troops from Tennessee and floats the idea of a plebiscite for the state, writing that if the vote was in favor of the Union, “it would be worth more to us than a battle gained.” A remarkable letter from Lincoln during the summer of 1862 as he was attempting to raise an additional 300,000 new troops for the Union: “You are aware we have called for a big levy of new troops. If we can get a fair share of them in Tennessee I shall value it more highly than a like number most anywhere else, because of the face of the thing, and because they will be at the very place that needs protection. Please do what you can, and do it quickly. Time is everything.” Although Tennessee formerly voted to secede from the Union, much of the eastern portion of the state was Unionist. Johnson, who also hailed from the east of the state, campaigned in the Senate to keep Tennessee in the Union in the spring of 1861. Once the state voted to leave the Union in June, Johnson, fearing for his life, left the state and returned to Washington and became the only member of a seceded state to sit in the Senate—a position that brought him close to Lincoln. In March 1862 Lincoln appointed him military governor of the state—and for much of 1862 and 1863, Tennessee was a continual battle ground. On 10 July, Johnson replied by telegraph to Lincoln that the “number of troops suggested can and will be raised in Tennessee…” (Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Series 1. General Correspondence).

Lincoln then moved to the subject of an election: “A word on another subject. If we could, somehow, get a vote of the people of Tennessee and have it result properly it would be worth more to us than a battle gained. How long before we can get such a vote?” To this, Johnson replied in the same telegram: “As to an expression of public opinion as soon as the rebel army can be expelled from East Tennessee there can & will be an expression of public opinion that will surprise you but I am constrained to say one thing as I said to you repeatedly in the fall Genl. Buell is not the man to redeem East Tennessee.” (Ibid.) Johnson was referring to Don Carlos Buell who would be relieved of his command of the Army of the Ohio in October after he allowed a far smaller force of Confederates to escape after the Battle of Perryville (8 October). Published in Basler, Collected Works, Vol. 5, pp. 302-303 (quoted from Emmanuel Hertz, Abraham Lincoln, a New Portrait. 871-72). Provenance: A. T. White (penciled initials on verso). $60,480

BUCHANAN, James. (1791-1868). Autograph manuscript signed (“James Buchanan”) as President to “The House of Representatives,” Washington, 1 March 1861.

Four pages on two bifolia, 347 x 209mm, numerous corrections and emendations, several in an unidentified hand (light toning at extremities). [With:] a second and presumed earlier autograph draft of the same message, unsigned, two pages, bifolium, 347 x 209mm, with corrections and emendations in Buchanan’s hand.

James Buchanan defends his decision to call troops to protect the nation’s capital during the counting of electoral votes from the election of 1860 and the inauguration of his successor, Abraham Lincoln: “Had I refused to adopt this precautionary measure, & evil consequences … had followed, I should never have forgiven myself.” As the secession movement gained momentum in January 1861 in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s election in November, many began to worry that the nation’s capital, sandwiched between two slave states, could be vulnerable to hostile forces bent on preventing the Illinois lawyer from taking office. Despite Buchanan’s misgivings that the move would upset Southerners who remained in the city, General Winfield Scott ordered additional troops to protect Washington. Meanwhile, some Republicans, suspicious of the President’s real loyalties, read the move as an attempt to stage a pro-Southern coup d’état. [1] Fortunately, Scott’s preparations appeared to have prevented any significant violence on 13 February 1861, the day the electoral votes were counted. Guards were posted at every entrance, barring admission to the galleries for anyone not possessing a written ticket of admission. But, according to the recollection of one observer, “the amount of profanity launched forth against the guards,” by those who were unable to gain admission, “would have completely annihilated them if words could kill.” [2]

When the electoral count was completed without an armed force attempting to seize Washington, Congress formed a select committee to inquire whether there was evidence of any hostile plot against the capital, questioning whether troops had been a necessary precaution. Buchanan issued this public message in response to that inquiry, asking pointedly, “what was the duty of the President at the time the troops were ordered to this city? Ought he to have waited, before this precautionary measure was adopted, until he could obtain proof that a secret conspiracy existed to seize the capital? In the language of the select committee, this was ‘in a time of high excitement consequent upon revolutionary events transpiring all around us, the very air filled with rumors, and individuals indulging in the most extravagant expressions of fears and threat’ … [T]he peace and order of the city itself, and the security of the inauguration of the President elect, were objects of such vast importance to the whole country that I could not hesitate to adopt precautionary defensive measures.” Based on the two drafts, his most poignant passage, its final place in the text marked with an asterix, was added at the very last minute: “Had I refused to adopt this precautionary measure, and evil consequences, which may good men at the time apprehended, had followed, I should never have forgiven myself.” Three days later, Lincoln’s inauguration would also proceed as planned. As they rode together in a carriage from Willard’s Hotel to the Capitol, Buchanan famously said to Lincoln: “If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to [my home] Wheatland, you are a happy man.” [3] Published in John Basset More, ed., The Works of James Buchanan. Philadelphia & London: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1910. Vol. 11, pp. 152-154.

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[1] Jean Baker, “The South Has Been Wronged,” in John W. Quist and Michael J. Birkner eds., James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War. (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2013), p. 180.

[2] Lucius E. Chittenden, Recollections of President Lincoln and His Administration. (New York: Harper & Bros., 1891), p. 41.

[3] Philip Klein, President James Buchanan: a Biography. (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, [1962]), p. 402. $151,200


On January 18th, an eBay vendor offered a most unusual outdoor stereo view showing President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles standing on the porch of former New York Governor Enos Throop’s home in Auburn, New York. It was likely taken during Johnson’s famous “Swing Around the Circle” in 1866. It realized $359. 


An eBay vendor is currently offering a rare Lincoln lithographed cartoon from 1864. It measures 23.75″ x 19″ and is titled “Abe Linking with His Significantly Named Cabinet”. The publisher was M. E. Goodwin and the Buy-It-Now price is $1795. An example from the Dewitt Collection recently sold at auction for $4000.


A standard Victor David Brenner bronze plaque of Lincoln was offered on eBay on February 3rd. There were at least three examples posted concurrently, at various price points and options. This example on a green marble base went the auction route, bringing in $835.


A rare stereo view of Lincoln’s funeral in Buffalo, New York came up for sale on eBay on February 26th. Published by C. L. Pond of Warsaw, New York, it saw heated bidding activity, selling for $394.


Freeman’s/Hindman Auctions of Cincinnati held a sale on February 27th, focusing on African-Americana. A 12″ x 18.75″ broadside caught our eye. It was used in an off-year election in New Jersey in 1867, promoting the Congressional candidacy of Charles T. Molony. Despite the abolishment of slavery through the 13th Amendment, Negro suffrage was not made the law of the land until 1870, with the passage of the 15th Amendment. Some candidates, like Democrat Molony, campaigned against this fundamental right, playing the race card until their hand was played out. It sold for $8255, against a reserve or opening bid of $3500.