General History

Listings shown are sorted alphabetically.

listing photo

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.

listing photo

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.

listing photo
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]

listing photo
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]

listing photo

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.

listing photo
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]

listing photo

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.

listing photo
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]

listing photo
The start of the Supreme Courtís landmark Telegraph Case
Morse protects his patent for the telegraph

Samuel F. B. Morse, autograph letter signed January 18, 1851, one full page to Rev. R. H. Seely concerning his patent dispute with Alexander Bain over the telegraph and electromagnetics. Scottish inventor Alexander Bain had developed an early form of a fax machine which, using electrical impulses, was able to copy images and then transmit them over wire. This was an invention that used some basic transmission principles from the telegraph and enhanced them by copying images rather than Samuel Morse’s dot-dash method to convey messages. Henry O’Reilly took Bain’s invention to create a competing model to Morse’s telegraph.

Morse writes to Rev. Raymond H. Seely, a prominent Congregational minister in Massachusetts. Morse expresses his frustration over the challenge to his patent. In part: “I am compelled to have my mind wholly absorbed in the self defence in the interminable litigation that has been forced upon me, from having in a sad hour for my own peace, given way to the delusion that a Patent was a protection and guarantee of justice. ... Bain’s machine infringes in several points upon mine, and it is for this infringement that a motion for injunction will be heard in April at Phil.” At a much later celebration with Morse in Paris Seely recalled being in the room with Morse when the first telegraph message was sent.

The legal challenge to O’Reilly mentioned here ended over two years later in the Supreme Court’s landmark patent case O’Reilly v. Morse, more commonly known as The Telegraph Case. The Supreme Court upheld Morse’s claim of inventing the telegraph but denied his claim of a patent on a scientific concept or idea, in this case the properties of electrical impulses.

There are several mailing folds and some wrinkling resulting from an earlier mounting along the left edge but the writing and signature is uniformly dark and strong.

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.

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.