General History

Listings shown are sorted alphabetically.

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Bulfinch, Charles – leading colonial architect, DS.. Bulfinch helped define the Federalist style in architecture. His best known work today is the Massachusetts State House. But he was also active in Boston’s civic life serving as a Selectman for the then small town. In this fresh looking document Bulfinch and five other selectmen (Ebenezer Oliver, Joseph Lovering, Joseph Austin, Enoch Silsby and Henry Bass)issue a license to sell goods at a “public venue or outcry” (i.e. a pushcart or street corner vendor). It is issued to Thomas Jones for one year commencing July 1, 1817. Bulfinch material has become difficult to find . [#4848]

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Forgery of Richard Henry Lee to Patrick Henry

– notorious early forger. A forged ALS of Richard Henry Lee to Patrick Henry on May 6, 1777. This is a particularly nice example that was pictured in Charles Hamilton's chapter on Cosey in his book Great Forgers and Famous Fakes. The works of some of the early forgers of historic American autographs have themselves become sought after by advanced collectors. [#3996]

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Thomas Edison - signed document. Edison signs the minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Edison Storage Battery Company as one of the stockholders. There are also some legal documents related to the calling of the meeting and a blank proxy sheet.

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Pay warrant for Salt Petre to make gunpowder

Oliver Ellsworth, third Chief Justice, appointed by Washington. Pay warrant as a member of Connecticut's Committee of the Pay Table, overseeing state expenses during the Revolutionary War. The warrant authorized payment for saltpetre and is dated January 30, 1777. Saltpetre was used for making gunpowder. It is signed "O. Ellsworth". [#4690]

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Businessman, helped found the American Telegraph Company and finance the first Trans-Atlantic cable. ALS, 1 page, 1872, to Edwards Pierrepont, Grant’s future Attorney General. Fields accepts a dinner invitation. Nice example of a very distinct signature. (See Grant listing for Pierrepont’s commission as A.G.) [#2945]

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Politician turned American Federal of Labor leader

William Green, longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. An early ALS as Ohio State Senator dated May 31, 1912. Although Green had a brief stint in politics his real opportunity to lead and drive change was through the labor movement. In many ways he helped modernize the union movement to be less confrontational and more successful in improve workers standards of living and job benefits. Green informs a supporter that he has been selected by Green to be a delegate to the state senatorial convention. Most of Green’s autographs are from this later period as a union leader. His earlier letters as a politician are less common. [#3512]

Hale, Edward Everett

Edward Everett Hale, author and influential clergyman, brief ALS on personal stationary Oct. 14,1905 acknowledging a note but explaining he needs to defere an answer—probably for a speaking engagement. [#4880]

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Will Hayes Postmaster General and head of the Motion Picture Producers. Interesting LS on Motion Picture Producers stationary 3/13/25 regarding “The Formula” he developed to keep movies wholesome and avoid government censorship.

Hopkins, Mark

Educator and theologian, ALS, 1.25 pages front and back of a single sheet, Williams College, Dec. 28, 1855. Hopkins sends or returns some pamphlets. Commenting on the writings, presumably those being sent, from a young student. "The idea--that of the superiority of Christian civilization is one which India especially needs, and it is pleasing to see how a chance spark from this western world may catch there." The letter has some glue remnants at the top of the front side and the bottom of the back side but overall is in fine condition. [#3475]

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Colonial physician and delegate to Continental Congress

David Jackson Colonial physician and delegate to the Continental Congress in 1785 from Philadelphia. Single page ALS April 30, 1792. [#4917]

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Lowell, James Russell poet and author of The Bigelow papers. Autograph quotation signed dated and signed. Lowell pens the last stanza from his poem Fancy’s Casuistry

These obstinate self questionings spare,
Leave what to do & what to dare
To the inspiring moment's care,
Nor ask for payment
Of fame or gold, but just to wear
Unspotted raiment.

J. R. Lowell
27th Oct, 1854

Published accounts of the poem have a different first line: “Such questionings are idle air:” so Lowell may have actually forgotten part of his own work or substituted a line with something he thought better fit a partial quotation from a longer work.

along wit an original cabinet photo.

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Original poem to FDR's mother on her 80th Birthday

Composer and musician. An original poem honoring Sara D. Roosevelt’s (FDR’s mother) 80th birthday with an inscribed dedication by Madison to Mrs. Roosevelt, along with a signed cover letter from Madison to Mrs. Roosevelt. Madison was a prolific songwriter in the first half of the 20th Century. Although somewhat overlooked today he had a rather unusual body of work putting poems written by presidents and their family to music. Interesting and different for the FDR collector. [#4537]

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Her New York tour

Carrie Amelia Nation –signed slip of notepaper from the Hotel Victoria in New York “Carrie A Nation/ your/ Loving Home Defender/ Sep. 1st 1901.” Nation gained national fame as a temperance leader by using a hatchet to chop at saloon bar and destroy bottles of liquor. Her more peaceful strategy was to be provocative and disruptive in public often drawing more attention to the cause by being arrested. Although considered unstable at times she was a natural marketer and eventually changed her name to the alternative spelling to create her eponymous rallying cry “Carry A Nation”. In many ways she was the model of the modern protester method of using civil disobedience and obnoxious techniques of public disruption to provoke reactions and even arrest or assault.

The national attention from her hatchet attacks made her a national sensation. In the summer of 1901 she began a tour of the Eastern US giving lectures, signing autographs and where she could, being provocative towards saloon keepers and public officials. She stayed at the Victoria on her New York visit which included a “press availability” at the hotel on the 1st. In one of the more notable stunts she tried to confront famed prize boxer turned saloon owner John L. Sullivan. Days earlier he boasted that if she came near his place he would stuff her down a sewer. When Nation and her crowd visited the saloon demanding to see him Sullivan was nowhere to be found. He had enough good sense not to be baited into giving her more publicity.

The 6 x 4 notepaper is in excellent condition with one flattened fold line that runs through the “N” of her last name. It is an excellent dated example of her signature with one of her favorite monikers. [#5070]

Signed by 5 Presidents
Presidents signed photo
George W. Bush as President

Color photo of the North Portico of the White House matted and signed by 5 Presidents with an autopen of Ronald Reagan. Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon both added their Presidential numbers and George H. Bush dated it, as President. George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter added large felt tip signatures. There is room for additional signatures. Some bumps at edges but makes for a dramatic display piece.

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Boy Scouts - a small signed photo card by Dan Beard with a signed slip from Ernest Thompson Seton who adds an ink drawing of a paw print. Both were early leaders of American Scouting.

Spencer, Herbert

Herbert Spencer social philosopher and author on social evolution. ALS, 4 pages from London to John Fiske in 1876. Spencer discusses reports of Fiske's research on Aryran people's which are reflected in Fiske's books Outline of Cosmic Philosophy and The Destiny of Men. A very desirable association between two leading thinkers and authors on evolution and the implications on social behavior.