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.
he 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:
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.
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, 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.
From James Cummins’ Bookseller January 2021 fixed-price catalog: “Signed portrait, holograph inscription to Richard Harding Davis, being a Vanity Fair portrait by Spy titled ‘U.S.A.’. London: [circa 1897]. Inscribed in the margin below the image. Lithographed by Vincent Brooks Day & Son. 15 x 9.25 inches. Mounted to board. Toned, crease through the top of the image. An autographed Spy portrait of Hay, with a nice inscription to journalist and writer Richard Harding Davis, a close confidant of Theodore Roosevelt. Hay (1838-1905) Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary and later biographer, served as Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, helping to establish the Open Door Policy and involved in the negotiations for the Panama Canal. At the time of this Vanity Fair portrait, he was serving as Ambassador to the United Kingdom.” Price: $1250.
Another offering from James Cummins Bookseller. “(Lincoln Assassination) Todd, George B., M.D. Autograph Letter, Signed (‘George’), to his brother, giving his eye-witness account of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on the night of April 14th, 1865. 4 pp. 8vo. The Surgeon of the ‘Montauk’ Gives an Eye-Witnesses Account. Slight soiling and minor tears along old folds, otherwise in very good condition Published (from a copy in the State Historical Library of Wisconsin) in Timothy S. Good, WE SAW LINCOLN SHOT (U. of Miss., 1995; with the mistaken date of April 30, 1865).
‘…About 10:25 P.M. a man came in and walked slowly along the side …’ A remarkably clear and dramatic eyewitness account of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln from a naval surgeon who was close to the President’s box at Ford’s theater on that fateful night of April 14, 1865. In this letter to his brother written the night after the assassination, while the details were still fresh in his memory, Dr. George B. Todd, surgeon aboard the U.S. ‘Montauk’ at anchor in the Navy Yard that day, recounts the terrible event with a clarity of observation one might expect of his profession – a rarity among confused eyewitness accounts. The text of Todd’s letter – one of only 7 eyewitness accounts written within 24 hours of the assassination – reads: ‘The few hours that have intervened since that most terrible tragedy of last night have served to give me a little clearer brain, and I believe I am now able to give you a clear account up to this hour. Yesterday about 3 P.M. the President and wife drove down to the navy yard and paid our ship a visit, going all over her, accompanied by us all. Both seemed very happy, and so expressed themselves, – glad that this war was over, or so near its end, and then drove back to the White House. In the evening nearly all of us went to the Ford’s Theatre. I was very early and got a seat near the President’s private box, as we heard he was to be there. About half past nine he came in with his wife, a Miss Harris and Major Rathburn and was cheered by every one. As soon as there was a silence the play went on, and I could see that the ‘pres.’ seemed to enjoy it very much. About 10:25 P.M. a man came in and walked slowly along the side on which the ‘pres.’ box was and I heard a man say ‘here’s Booth’ and I turned my head to look at him. He was still walking very slow, and was near the box door, when he stopped, took a card from his pocket, wrote something on it, and gave it to the usher, who took it to the box. In a minute the door was opened and he walked in. No sooner had the door closed, then I heard the report of a pistol and on the instant, Booth jumped out of the box onto the stage, holding in his hand a large knife, and shouted so as to be heard all over the house – ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’ (‘so always with tyrants’) and fled behind the scenes- I attempted to get to the box but I could not and in an instant the cry was raised ‘The President is Assassinated.’ Such a scene I never saw before. The cry spread to the street, only to be met by another, ‘So is Mr. Seward.’ Soldiers had gone. Some General handed me a note and bid me go to the nearest telegraph office and arouse the nation. I ran with all my speed and in ten minutes the sad news was all over the country. Today all the city is in mourning, nearly every house being in black and I have not seen a smile. No business and many a strong man I have seen in tears. Some reports say Booth is a prisoner, others that he has made his escape, but from orders received here, I believe he is taken as a mob once raised now would know no end. I will not seal this until morning and I may have some more news.’ April 24th. ‘I have had no time to write until now, as I have been a detective. We have now 7 that are implicated. Why don’t you write? Love to all, George’. Several important facts regarding the movements of both the President and John Wilkes Booth are recorded here: (1) This appears to be the only eyewitness account of the President’s inspection of the ‘Montauk’ earlier that afternoon. (2) Todd’s account of Booth’s interaction with the ‘usher’ sitting outside the President’s box (‘took a card from his pocket, wrote something on it, and gave it to the usher’) is especially intriguing, and reveals not only something of Todd’s powers of observations, but also his proximity to the assassin immediately before the shooting. Todd alone among eyewitnesses notes that the ‘usher’ first took the card from Booth, then went into the box, and that a short time later the door opened, and Booth went in. In fact, Good finds only 7 other eye-witness accounts of the Lincoln assassination as early as April 15 — most of these witnesses record little or nothing regarding the events before hearing the shot itself, and none of them noticed Booth’s interchange with the usher (who was, in fact, Lincoln’s valet, Charles Forbes). There are three other accounts by eyewitnesses which partially corroborate Todd’s observation of the Forbes and Booth interchange — but they were written much later than Todd’s. (3) Todd’s observation of the time he spotted Booth moving toward the box (‘about 10:25’) corresponds to Good’s own conclusion that Booth fired the fatal shot close to 10:30 PM. According to James Swanson (MANHUNT, p. 419) ‘the exact time of Booth’s shot cannot be fixed … Booth may have shot Lincoln as early as 10:13 or as late as 10:30’ Todd’s account – again, one of the freshest and most reliable, weighs heavily in favor of Good. (4) Todd, by his own account, played a role in alerting the nation by telegraph. (5) Although he doesn’t mention it, as a surgeon of the ironclad Montauk, Todd was also probably present at the autopsy of John Wilkes Booth on Thursday, April 27 in the gun room of his ship. Indeed, in an article in the February issue of the Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, 1926, where the letter was first published and reproduced, Todd is reported to have been ‘one of the surgeons who performed the autopsy.’ That, as well as the fact that the other prisoners were being held on board the ironclad ‘Montauk’ and ‘Saugus’, may explain his cryptic remark near the end (‘… I have been a detective …’). Todd actually mailed the letter on April 30, 3 days after the autopsy, and may very have participated in the actual investigation of the captives aboard the ‘Montauk.’ AN EXTRAORDINARY AND UNIQUE RECORD OF ONE THE NATION’S GREAT TRAGEDIES.” (Price: $100,000.)
Offered on eBay: Vintage Civil War CDV of General Ulysses S Grant and Staff Photo. Albumen CDV of General U.S. Grant posed with four members of his staff, verso imprint of Henszey & Co., Philadelphia, PA. The subjects include Seneca attorney, engineer, and tribal diplomat-turned-Civil War officer Ely Samuel Parker (left sitting), Adam Badeau, General Grant (at table), Orville Elias Babcock, and Horace Porter. $1580
Hake’s Americana on February 24, 2021. We reprint the full catalog description:
“As the election year of 1860 dawned, America remained a youthful country with over half of the population aged 19 or younger. Fractured along a North & South meridian, the experiment in self-governance, then 84 years on, was in peril. Early in March a group of 36 young men from Hartford, CT formed a political group, The Wide Awakes, inspired by a gaunt young politician from Illinois who had thrust himself into the presidential spotlight after a speech at Cooper Union, New York advocating the rights of workers and the end of slavery’s spread. On March 5, after Lincoln’s address in their hometown, the group, clad in their oilcloth capes with torches aloft and band in tow, formed a marching party to escort Lincoln to his resting place for the night. The spectacle impressed Lincoln who encouraged this grassroots youth faction whose numbers soon began to rise across the country. By mid-summer, Wide Awake groups had sprung up in every Northern state, their quasi-military fraternal hierarchy gave structure and identity to its burgeoning politically minded youth members now emerging as a force and enchanting the northern electorate with massive evening demonstrations of torches, bands, banners and fireworks. They naturally adopted the Providence or All-Seeing-Eye to illustrate their political awakening utilizing the powerful imagery across their marches. By October, the group had swelled to nearly 500,000 members with demonstrations in New York and Chicago attracting tens of thousands during the final month of the presidential campaign. Lincoln’s victory solidified the group as the most effective grass roots political organization in US history. Artifacts produced by the Wide Awakes, beyond some tokens, are notoriously scarce with items featuring the All-Seeing-Eye ranking among the most coveted by collectors. Banners like this are almost non-existent, especially in private hands, and even when considered alongside other pre-Civil War textiles, this artifact’s uniqueness and visual appeal distinguish it among its impressive peers.
17.5” x 39″ hand-stitched cotton panels retaining metallic fringe along bottom edge and vegetable dyed cotton band at top with loops for securing to a pole. Design is dominated by a large ‘All Seeing Eye’ in top field accented by star rosettes at each corner. Bottom field has two red stripes flanking a center cream stripe with text ‘Lincoln Hamlin.’ Vertical fabric separations noted for accuracy: four in blue field- a 3″ & 1″ at bottom left, a 3″ & 1.5″ at lower right; three in the right red stripe- a 2″ at top center, a 1.5″ & 3″ at extreme bottom right and two in white stripe- a 5″ & 1.25″ in lower left field not affecting text. Additionally, we note two horizontal fabric separations at bottom of white stripe where decorative fringe has slightly separated and faint damp staining throughout most notably in cream field affecting the ‘lin’ in ‘Hamlin.’ Otherwise moderate handling and even toning consistent with use and age. Fine. These condition issues are relatively moot especially when considering the banner’s uniqueness, historical importance, intended use and the over 160 years it has endured. All in all, it is extremely well preserved. Fresh to market having spent over 30 years deeply embedded in an outstanding collection now coming to market and likely a once in a lifetime opportunity to obtain this important investment grade Lincoln display item destined to be the focal point of its next owner’s collection.” Sold for $143,105.
A dexterity puzzle in the shape of a light bulb (3” tall and 2 1/2” ) in diameter shows Lincoln and, separately, his stovepipe hat. The goal of the puzzle is to get the hat back on Lincoln’s head (fat chance!) Likely made in 1912, it is titled “Abe’s Hat Is In the Ring”. Teddy Roosevelt was running for president that year and also used the “Hat in the Ring” slogan. It sold on eBay for $88.
PBA Galleries in Berkeley, California held a sale in early July 2021 that included a single item of interest, namely a Nevada Lincoln ballot from 1864, the first national election following Nevada’s statehood. The front lacked graphics of any kind, while the back had a fine counter-fraud design featuring a bearded portrait of Lincoln inscribed “Union Liberty”. It realized a strong $2812.
Rafael Osona Auctions of Nantucket, Massachusetts, known for maritime items, sold a Lincoln-related item on August 7, 2021. It was a letter written on March 6, 1865 to U. S. Treasurer Francis Spinner, asking if he could provide a ticket for that night’s inauguration ball. It had 31 bids and sold for $4062, double what an invitation would cost. They also had a pair of 17” high-relief plaster plaques of Lincoln and Spinner, signed by Charles Stierlin and dated 1868 and 1866 respectively. They were estimated $800-$1200 for the pair, but were so unappealing that nobody wanted them, not even the guy that bought the previous lot.
Stair Gallery of Hudson, New York held a sale on August 5, 2021. They offered a standard Lincoln bronze plaque by Brenner on a green marble mount. It sold for what may be a record price… $4160.
This probably has no correlation to what the next one will sell for… auctions are a “moment in time”.
Leland Little Auctions, September 18, 2021:
“(Chicago: Thomas B. Bryan and Edward Mendel, 1863), being an exact copy of President Lincoln’s original 1862 draft Proclamation and incorporating a tipped-on albumen photograph of Lincoln that is credited in print to the studio of Wenderoth & Taylor of Philadelphia; a period blind-stamped Proclamation seal in the lower left corner attests to the document’s authenticity as an official copy of the Proclamation being sold strictly for the benefit of the U. S. Sanitary Commission and the Soldier’s Home of Chicago, Illinois. Presented behind glass in an early 20th century wooden frame with gilt liner. Frame dimensions 36-1/4 x 29-3/8 in.Thomas Bryan, President of the Chicago Soldier’s Home, engaged lithographer Edward Mendel to reproduce Lincoln’s hand-written Emancipation Proclamation for a fund-raising broadside. This proved a great move for posterity since Lincoln’s original document, owned by Bryan, was destroyed by Chicago’s infamous fire of 1871.” $6250.
Jeffrey S.Evans of Mt. Crawford, Virginia, September 24, 2021:
ABRAHAM LINCOLN PLAQUE, colorless with worn brown decoration, profile of Lincoln, above which is embossed ‘I AM WITH ANYONE WHO IS FOR THE RIGHT. A LINCOLN’, crossed logs form frame. Fourth quarter 19th century. 6 5/8″ x 8 1/4″. $280
From Doyle’s of New York City, hammering for $50,000 plus a 26% buyer’s premium on September 24, 2021:
“Autograph note signed instructing Edwin Stanton to meet with the important African American abolitionist and officer Martin Delany. [Washington:] 21 February 1865. Autograph note in ink on a small card, 2 x 3 1/4 inches (5 x 8 cm), the full text reading ‘Hon. Sec. of War, Please see this intelligent colored man, Mr. Delany – who wants to assist in raising colored troops. Feb. 21, 1865’ and signed ‘A. Lincoln’. A few letters smudged, lightly soiled, the ink dark.
Provenance: the note is accompanied by a copy of a 1962 newspaper article mentioning the note and reporting it part of the Lincoln collection formed by Mrs. Kenneth Simpson and Mrs. McIntyre Faries, Los Angeles.
A Lincoln note of the highest impact, noting the intelligence of and endorsing the recruitment plan of polymath Dr. Martin Robison Delany, the important abolitionist, physician, ‘father of Black nationalism,’ recruiter of the 54th Massachusetts and, subsequent to his meeting with Lincoln, the highest ranking African American in the United States Army.
Born in 1812 to a free mother and enslaved father in Charles Town, Virginia (part of West Virginia after 1863), Delany was raised and educated in Pennsylvania and, after an apprenticeship with a physician, opened his own medical practice in Pittsburgh. By 1842, Delany was publishing the abolitionist newspaper The Mystery and travelled to Rochester to work alongside Frederick Douglass to publish The North Star. In 1850, Delany was one of the first three black students accepted to Harvard Medical School only to be dismissed weeks later after complaints from white students. Feeling that black people had no future in the United States, in 1852 Delany authored ‘The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered’ and by 1856 he moved his family to Ontario, Canada. There he helped settle American refugees arriving from the Underground Railroad. In response to the passivity of some slaves in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, Delany wrote ‘Blake; or The Huts of America’, a serialized novel which chronicled the travels of a black insurrectionist. In 1859, Delany sailed for Liberia to explore the possibility of a black colony and was a central figure in a treaty with eight indigenous chiefs to create a settlement. The plans were dissolved partly by the coming of the American Civil War and Delany, after having been honored in England during his stopover, returned to the United States. After 1861, Delany devoted himself to the emancipation of American slaves and the recruitment of black soldiers into the Union Army.
In the war years before his audience with Lincoln, Delany was instrumental in recruiting black troops to join the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and served as its surgeon. His son, Toussaint L’Ouverture Delany enlisted in the 54th at 15 years old and survived the battle at Fort Wagner (memorialized in the 1989 film Glory). Due partly to Delany’s efforts, 179,000 black men enlisted in the United States Colored Troops, about 10 percent of all who served in the Union Army.
In early February 1865, Delany travelled to Washington to convince President Lincoln that black men would be more likely to join the Union Army if they served under black commanding officers. Much of the account of the meeting comes from Frances Rollin’s 1868 ‘The Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany’ which offers a long description of the conversation between Lincoln and Delany. The dates in Rollin’s biography seem to rely on Delany’s recollections and while the report of the conversation captures the spirit of the meeting, the dates provided seem somewhat unreliable. Rollin notes that ‘On Monday, the 8th of February, he [Delany] sent his card up to the president … an audience was granted for the next morning at eight o’clock . The auspicious morning dawned. The president was absent, at the War Department. But not unmindful of his engagement, he left a messenger to be sent after him.’ The true date of the meeting is not revisited. In a new chapter, Rollin recreates the conversation between Lincoln and Delany, offering such memorable lines such as ‘You should have an army of blacks, President Lincoln, commanded entirely by blacks, the sight of which is required to give confidence to the slaves, and retain them to the Union’ … ‘This,’ replied the president, ‘is the very thing I have I have been looking and hoping for; but nobody offered it; I hoped and prayed for it; but till now it has never been proposed.’
The conversation closes with Lincoln commenting on loud cannon fire nearby before handing Delany a handwritten introduction to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The Lincoln chapter closes: ‘Haven’t you heard the news? Charleston is ours!’ he answered, straightening up from the table on which he was writing for an instant, and then resuming it. He soon handed me a card, on which was written, – ‘February 8, 1865. Hon. E.M. Stanton, Secretary of War. Do not fail to have an interview with this most extraordinary and intelligent black man.’
While the detail of Lincoln handing Delany a card appears correct, his memory of the text and the date for Rollin’s book were likely approximated and the present signed card is what was actually handed to Delany. By Rollin’s own text, Delany did not meet with Lincoln until February 9th at the earliest and the city of Charleston was not surrendered to General Sherman until February 18th, so more than likely Delany’s audience with Lincoln occurred later than remembered.
Delany’s meeting with Lincoln was fruitful and changed history. On February 27th, 1865, Delany was commissioned a Major in the U.S. Colored Troops, becoming the U.S. Army’s first Black field officer and achieving the highest rank of any African American during the Civil War. Delany joined and recruited for the 104th and 105th U.S.C.T. in Charleston and after the war worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau in South Carolina, ran for political office and served as a judge. Unfortunately, many of Delany’s papers were destroyed in a fire at Wilberforce University in Ohio on April 14, 1865 and we trace little reference to his meeting with Lincoln outside of the oft-repeated story as told in Rollin’s text.
Collection of a California Family Estimate $8,000-12,000.”
J. James Auctions of Plymouth, MA had an auction on September 25, 2021 that included a large number of flags. A 16.75” x 11.5” state flag for “Minnesota”, supposedly used to denote the location of state delegations at the 1860 Republican “Wigwam” convention (although not identified as such in the catalog) sold for $9375.
Swann Galleries held a sale on September 30, 2021. A 17” x 24.5” broadside advertising a “Great Anti-Nebraska Convention” at Galesburg, IL on October 26, 1854 sold for $1920. Lincoln did not attend this convention, but was attending to legal matters in Decatur that day.
Potomack Company held an auction on September 30, 2021 featuring the extensive Wedgwood Collection of Jeffrey Milkins. An 18.25” Wedgwood parian bust of Lincoln, described as “circa 1890, in the manner of Augustus St. Gaudens”, sold for $6985. In fact, the Spring 1861 Wedgwood sales catalog lists a bust of Lincoln, likely issued in conjunction with his inauguration. This is probably the one in question. An example, perhaps this very one, was offered by a book & map dealer at a Stamford, CT antiques show fifty years ago. The price back then? $2500. A piece that shows up once every fifty years has to be considered on the “rare side”. We believe the successful bidder resold it at the 2022 Winter Antiques Show online sale for $18,000. Coincidentally, another example showed up at an upstate Vermont estate auction shortly thereafter, selling for a “song”.
A sixth-plate tintype of what appeared to be a Wide Awake marcher was offered on eBay. It came out of a Virginia estate with two tintypes of Union soldiers. The seller did not know if this was a soldier or not. We could not discern an inscription on his flag or hat band. Condition was not optimal, but people liked what they saw and it sold for $1260. It later resold at an online Ohio auction for slightly more.
Nadeau’s of Windsor, Connecticut held a sale on October 30, 2021. A rare Rickey & Mallory cartoon from 1860, titled “A Political Race” was a star attraction. Measuring 14.5” x 21.5”, it was moderately toned throughout, folded in sixteenths with a caption card affixed detailing its provenance. It no doubt will clean up nicely. It realized $3750. The same sale had an Abraham Lincoln ANS which several collectors questioned, given the general sloppiness of the handwriting and non-conformity to known exemplars. It sold for $5312.
Poulin Auctions of Fairfield, Maine held a military sale on November 7, 2021. It contained a kepi that had belonged to General George B. McClellan. The provenance included Civil War collector William Gavin and a museum in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, not far from Antietam Battlefield. The kepi had failed to sell once before, but rallied this time around, selling for $18,677, inclusive of the 20.5% buyer’s premium. We believe this was half what the consignor was hoping for, but bidders determine the market.
Dan Morphy Auctions, December 14, 2021:
“This wonderful ‘Fry’s Traveling Companion’ flask was among the Lincoln relics descending through the family of Mary Todd Lincoln to Mary Edwards Brown (1866-1958,) granddaughter of Mary Todd Lincoln’s sister and last custodian of the Lincoln home in Springfield, and was likely a present to Lincoln by Springfield distiller Parley L. Howlett. Many Lincoln artifacts preserved by Mary Edwards Brown ended up in the Meserve-Kunhardt collection and others were given or sold by Brown in support of the Friends of the Lincoln Shrines in Galena, Illinois. This comes with a 1958 notarized affidavit by Richard S. Hagen of the ‘Friends of the Lincoln Shrines’ executed when the flask was sold to well-known Lincoln collector and dealer King Hostick detailing his purchase of the flask from Mary Edwards Brown about 1956, and includes her statement the flask had been given to Lincoln just prior to his departure for Washington in 1861. A pen holder/desk set belonging to Lincoln with the exact same provenance and a letter from Hagen to Hostick sold at Christies 4 December 2017, lot 68, for $15,000. The flask acquires unexpected support from the entirely accidental discovery in July 1966 of an identical Fry flask among the relics sealed in the time capsule placed in the cornerstone of the new Illinois State House in 1868, with an inscription identifying the likely presenter of our flask. The find is described and pictured in the Illinois Blue Book 1967-1968. That flask was also engraved on the cup, but reads: ‘This Whiskey / was made for Abraham Lincoln, / Sept. 20th 1860 and presented to him as an Emblem / of his Administration, it is Pure, & will grow / Better, as it grows older. / P.L. Howlett.’ As described by Lincoln historian Wayne C. Temple, the date may refer to the date of distillation, with the actual gift of the whiskey made after it had aged somewhat, tying in with the 1861 date on our example and Mary Edwards Brown’s recollection that this flask was presented to Lincoln before leaving for Washington. Howlett (1818-1891) was a distiller and lived in Springfield from 1858 to 1862, before moving to Jamestown, now Riverton, which was briefly named Howlett in his honor. Admirers have sometimes added abstinence to Lincoln’s many virtues, and the flask comes with its original pasteboard box, indicating Lincoln was not in the habit of carrying it, but he cheerfully admitted to having worked part of one winter in a ‘still-house,’ identified by Temple as that of Isaac Burner of New Salem, and allowed the sale of whiskey by Isaac and Daniel Burner in his New Salem store, ‘Berry and Lincoln,’ though Daniel Burner testified he only saw Lincoln ‘take anything… once in a while.’ PROVENANCE: Mary Edwards Brown – Richard Hagen, Friends of the Lincoln Shrines ca. 1956 – Lincoln dealer King Hostick, Chicago 1958 – the present owner. CONDITION: Excellent. The bottom of the pasteboard box is detached. The bottom of the cup has a small inventory number, either that of Hostick or the Friends of the Lincoln Shrines. Paperwork: Affidavit.” Sold for $7500.
The same sale had a 62 mm Lincoln Indian Peace Medal in silver which realized $13,750. It would have sold higher, but a potential “key” player was scared off by a high estimate. Perhaps he won’t be so timid next time!
Jeffrey S. Evans of Mt. Crawford, VA held an auction on November 19, 2021 that included flags from the Barbara & Charles Hunter Collection. A 34-star campaign flag inscribed “Lincoln & Johnson!” measured 23” x 46” and sold for $129,250. It previously was sold at Cowan’s, realizing $38,000 at the time. It pays to buy quality!
Heritage Auctions in Dallas held an auction on December 4, 2021, consisting of the second installment of items from the Tom Charles Huston Collection. A colored copy of Bromley’s anti-Lincoln cartoon, “The Grave of the Union” sold for $10,000.It is the only colored version we can recall seeing.
A large high-relief McClellan campaign medal, electrotyped by S. H. Black of New York, measured 64 mm and was in great condition. It realized $5500.
A rather attractive 1864 Lincoln ferrotype badge has a circle of thirteen stars painted blue and was inscribed “Union Liberty”. We know of only two other examples, both in lesser condition. This gem reached $5000.
A copy of “Old Abe’s Jokes” in yellow pictorial wraps (loss to titled spine with detached rear cover) made $3500.
Finally, an admission ticket to Lincoln’s White House funeral (“North” wing) sold for $4500. These have sold for more in the past, but the price seems to have settled in the $3000-$5000 range.
Hake’s Americana on November 2, 2021. A 21.25” x 25.5” cotton bandana featuring “President Abraham Lincoln” against a “turkey red” field, with eagles, flags and clasped hands, realized a record price of $35,695.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
Pook & Pook of Downingtown, PA held a sale on August 18, 2021. It included a large albumen photograph of Simon Cameron seated on a rocking chair on the front porch of his home, together with an 1864 ALS from the Union State Central Committee “putting the arm” on collectors of U. S. Revenue to submit a check for $1000 to help in the Lincoln re-election effort. Given Cameron’s shady reputation, it is likely he retained most, if not all, of the monies collected. The group made a reasonable $454.
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.