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First holograph facsimile of Gettysburg Address
Autograph Leaves of our Country's Authors

Autograph Leaves of Our Country's Authors - John P. Kennedy and Alexander Bliss, Cushing & Bailey, Baltimore, 1864, 200 pp, leather covered boards, gilded with a seal of a wreath, arrow, rifle and sword. The book reproduces facsimiles of holograph poems or quotes that were to be sold at the Maryland State Sanitary Fair. Essentially, it was a fundraising souvenir album to help promote the great collection formed for sale to help wounded soldiers. The most important piece of the sale was one of Lincoln's five handwritten copies of the Gettysburg Address, which he provided specifically for this sale. The book was the first facsimile of one of Lincoln's handwritten copies. (The year before, Lincoln donated his first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to the Great Sanitary Fair in Chicago.) Most of the manuscripts were produced by living authors, poets, or other notables in response to requests for contributions to the Fair and this souvenir. A few early pieces, such as Poems by Poe and John Quincy Adams, or Key's copy of the National Anthem were loaned for reproduction in this book, with the originals being returned to their owners.

The full-page facsimile reproductions alone make this a useful reference work. It is more significant for being one of the earliest American books devoted to American autographs. Actively soliciting the pieces for fundraising purposes suggests an active market of autograph collectors. That most of them did not sell suggests the limits of a market for fine examples. Most of the collection was retained by Bliss, handed down through his family and then sold by Parke -Bernet Galleries in 1949. That catalog has some full or partial facsimiles but unlike Autograph Leaves has some description of each piece.

This copy has the original boards, but the spine has been rebacked. Bumps and some loss of leather at the corners. Some staining and spotting throughout but most of the facsimiles, including the Gettysburg Address are unaffected. These are quite rare and cross-over in interest to Civil War collectors because of the association to the Sanitary Fairs. #6001