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1936 – Christmas Greetings letter from the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai that bears two uncommon auxiliary handstamps as a result of the Pacific Coast dock strike of 1936

Chief Pharmacist's Mate J. N. Lawrence This one-page illustrated Christmas Greetings letter is datelined "Regimental Hospital / 4th Marines. Shanghai, / 29 November 1936." It was sent by Chief Pharmacist's Mate J. N. Lawrence to Richard McP[herren] Cabeen in Chicago. It contains one page of typed text on stationery from the "Army & Navy / YMCA / Shanghai, China" that features an illustration of a black dragon candlestick holding a red candle; black smoke from the candle curls upward producing a 'cloud' of three camels (but no wisemen). The text "Christmas Greetings / from / The Orient" is at the top of the page. The mailing envelope bears two franking handstamps: one is an ornate dragon in purple; the other reads "FOURTH MARINE MAIL / No postage available. / Collect on Delivery / Chas. F. B. Price / Colonel, U. S. Marine Corps. Both the letter and envelope are in nice shape. In his letter, Lawrence explains why it was franked with a handstamp instead of regular postage. "During our holiday rush . . . our post office ran out of stamps . . . had to have this stamp made in order get the mail going. . . The seamans strike has slowed things up on account of having not stamps. . ." . The Fourth Marine Regiment was one of four U.S. Infantry Regiments (two Army and two Marine_ stationed in China at that time to protect U.S. citizens living in the Shanghai international settlement form both Chinese political unrest and an expected invasion by the Japanese. Indeed, the American military presence was deployed along the settlement's borders just a few months later when full-scale combat between Japan and China erupted following the Marco Polo Bridge incident. The "seamans strike" referenced by Lawrence was, of course, the Great West Coast Maritime Strike of 1936 that shutdown U.S. Pacific Ocean ports from 31 October 1936 to 21 January 1937. While the "FOURTH MARINE MAIL" hand stamp occasionally appears on eBay and at philatelic auctions, the dragon handstamp does not. I have only seen one other example; it was illustrated in Sheaff's "'Free' Mail for the Troops" which appeared in the September 2020 issue of The Ephemera Journal. The Shanghai YMCA Christmas stationery is even more scarce. It is the only example I have seen, and none are listed at the Rare Book Hub or OCLC. Richard Mcpherren Cabeen was a Chicago architect and one of the most renowned philatelic authors of the 20th century. In addition to authoring several texts he also wrote a weekly philatelic column for the Chicago Tribune that ran from 1932 to 1969. Upon his death, the impressive Cabeen home was donated to the Chicago Collectors Club and remains as its headquarters to this day. A fascinating letter produced at the heart of the 1930s'intersection of labor unrest, military muscle-flexing, and postal history. .
  • $250
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1864 – Letter from a sailor with the Union’s South Atlantic Blockading Squadron reporting he and his shipmates had conducted eight or nine land raids into coastal Georgia

Thomas G. Hall This partially cross-hatched two-page letter from seaman Thomas G. Hall aboard the U.S. Sloop of War Saratoga at St. Helena Island to his parents in New York is datelined "South Carolina / Sept 18". It is enclosed in its original mailing envelope which bears a 3-cent Washington stamp (Scott #65) and a double-ring "Port Royal / SC" postmark dated October 1, 1864. The letter is in nice shape. The envelope shows some postal wear. Hall's letter reads as follows: "The Steamer Harvest Moon came up last night binging despatches and a mail. I received two letters one directed May 29th and Sept 4th. We have been blockading off the coast of Georgia in Doboy and St. Andrews Sound, Georgia. We came up here about two weeks ago. I am detached at present on the Schooner Wild Cat doing picket duty between Port Royal and here. We were on 8 or 9 expeditions while we were at Doboy Sound. this is the first chance we have had of Sending letters since we left Port Royal. You must excuse this short letter for the mail bag is about to close. I send you some trophys taken on our expeditions You need not expect me home until the first of November. You state in your letter May 29 that you think I am angry with you of Libbie Horton your mistaken entirely this is the first chance I have had since we left the Break water. . .You hardly need not write as I dont believe we will be here long." The raids conducted by the sailors of the Saratoga should not be confused with the looting and complete destruction of the undefended Georgia port town of Darien by two African-American Union regiments, the 2nd Carolina Colored Infantry commanded by Colonel James Montgomery and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw which had occurred a year prior. Rather, Hall is referencing the Saratoga's legitimate military raids that occurred in August and September of 1864 and were led by the ship's captain, U.S. Navy Commander George Musalas "Colvos" Colvocoresses. These boat raids captured over 100 Confederate soldiers and more than 20 cavalry horses. It also freed over 70 slaves and confiscated large quantities of ammunition, ordnance, and supplies. Additionally, Colvocoresses's raiding parties destroyed an important salt works and strategic bridges. (For more information, see Smeltzer's "The Burning of Darian" online at the Civil War Bookshelf and Winifred Ledoux's "George M. Colvocoresses" at the Vermont in the Civil War website.) Certainly, very scarce as only about 100 sailors participated in the Saratoga's raids. At the time of listing, no letters regarding the USS Saratoga's raids into coastal Georgia are for sale in the trade. None have appeared at auction per the Rare Book Hub. OCLC shows none held by institutions, however there may be some in in the Colvocoresses family papers at Norwich University. .
  • $750
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1802 – Illustrated shipping document exporting a shipment of rum and brown sugar to Europe commissioned by one of the wealthiest participants in the Triangle Trade

Moses Brown This partially printed shipping document dated "June 8th, 1802" measures 8" x 6¼". It is illustrated with a large capital 'S' that depicts an oceangoing ship in the background. In it, Moses Brown of Newburyport, commits to transporting rum and sugar to Amsterdam via the Brig Respect, captained by John March. In nice shape with some toning and storage folds. Of note, the document is franked with a colorless, embossed, two-part 20-cent revenue stamp (Scott # RM261a) from the Second Federal Revenue Issue, which was in use from 1 March 1801 until 30 June 1802. The first part of the stamp shows an eagle and shield and is denominated 10 cents. The second part, known as a counter stamp, shows a wreath with 13 stars; it is labeled "COM. REV. C.S." (Commissioner of Revenue Counter Stamp) and bears the denomination "X CENTS". Both parts appear along the left margin, under the S/Ship illustration. The document reads in part: "Shipped, in good order, and well conditioned, by Moses Brown in and upon the good Brig called the Respect whereof is Master for this present voyage, John March and now riding at anchor in the Port of Newbury port and bound for Amsterdam To say, Fifty five hogsheads, Seven Tierces & Eighteen barrels of Brownd Sugar Nett weight six hundred thirty six hundred three quarter & 20 bound Twenty Hogsheads N England Rum cont & Twenty to hundred & Sixty four Gallons. . . Freight for the said goods, viz, One hundred forty two pound eighteen Shillings & one penny ½ British Sterling. . ." . Moses Brown was one of the wealthiest merchants in the United States and the second wealthiest person in Newburyport. He was a prominent landowner, shipbuilder, distiller, and owned a series of wharfs. He was also a notorious participant in the Triangle Trade that brought African slaves to the Americas. Although Brown neither traded nor shipped slaves, his huge business was an integral part of the other two-thirds of the Triangle Trade (sugar/molasses and rum). A plaque in the city's public square, Brown Square, in the city reads, "Brown became wealthy and helped the development of Newburyport based on his profits from the 'Triangle Trade,' the economic engine that drove much of the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries." Ironically, a statue of one of the most important American abolitionists, William Lloyd Garrison, stands in Brown Square, and Brown's former residence, located along the square, has been converted into a hotel, the Garrison Inn. Much of New England's economy was built upon the slave trade, and Newburyport was a significant beneficiary. Prior to emancipation numerous families in the relatively small community owned slaves of their own. Many prominent families, besides Brown built or invested in ships that supplied the slave trade, knowing full-well the vessels were used to transport slaves purchased from rich and powerful African kings and merchants along the continents coast. Between 1734 and 1858, Newburyport citizens (mariners, merchants, ship owners, ship builders, carpenters, rum makers, innkeepers, etc.) profited mightily from the trade. Between 1734 and 1858, the 47 slave ships built in Newburyport were used to transport over 22,600 Africans over the brutal Middle Passage; more than 3,500 hundred of them died during before reaching the slave pens of the Caribbean, South America, and the United States. (For more information, see Hendrickson's "The economics of slavery" online at the Newburyport Daily News, "Your Ancestors Stayed with Us" at the Garrison Inn website, and "Brown Square" at the Newburyport Clipper Heritage Trail website.) One of the nicest and most definitive Triangle Trade shipping documents we have seen documenting New England's prominent role in the African Slave Trade. Collections of Moses Brown papers are held at several institutions including the Harvard Business School, University of California-Davis, and the University of South Carolina. .
  • $1,500
  • $1,500
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1863-1864 – Two different $1,000 Confederate States of America Loan certificates

This lot contains two partially printed $1,000 bond certificates (Criswell #122 and #144A) for the Confederate States of America War Loans of 1863 and 1864. The first is dated February 20, 1863. It measures 14" square and was printed on pink paper. It was lithographed by Archer & Daily of Richmond, Virginia and features an Illustration of General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson who would die from friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville three months later. It is hand-numbered "2053" and bears manuscript initials and a signature. The bond paid 7% interest. Eight $35 coupons originally were printed below the main certificate, each dated as to when it could be cashed. Once all the coupons had been clipped and cashed, the large certificate would could have been turned in for $1,000. As is the case with nearly all surviving examples of these certificates, one of the coupons (for January 1, 1865) has been clipped and likely cashed. In nice shape with some light edgewear and storage folds. The second is dated March 1, 1864. It measures approximately 17" x 28" and was printed in orange and black. The bonds were engraved by J. Archer of Richmond, Virginia and printed by Evans & Cogswell of Columbia, South Carolina. The bond paid 6% interest. The certificate is identified as being from the "Second Series." It features an illustration of an equestrian statue of George Washington, Confederate flags, and the motto of the Confederacy, "Deo Vindice" (God as our Defender). It is hand-numbered 8548 and bears manuscript initials and a signature. Sixty $30 coupons originally were printed below the main certificate, each dated as to when it could be cashed. Once all the coupons had been clipped and cashed, the large certificate would have been eligible to exchange for $1,000. A red Confederate treasury hand stamp is in the upper right margin. As is the case with most surviving examples of these certificates, one of the coupons (for January 1, 1865) has been clipped and likely cashed. In nice shape with some edgewear and storage folds. .
  • $350
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1900 – Advertising packet sent to a postmaster promising to provide “premium” gifts if he provided a list of names and addresses to a mail-order patent medicine business

Clarendon I. Shoop This advertising packet for "The Dr. Shoop Family Medicine Co." of Racine, Wisconsin includes a cover letter, unused mailing list form, a "Premium List" pamphlet showing possible rewards, a Premium order blank, and the original mailing envelope. The envelope was sent to the Postmaster of Shawmut, Massachusetts. It is franked with a pre-canceled "Racine. / Wis." one-cent green Franklin stamp (Scott #279). All of the contents are in nice shape; the envelope shows a little minor postal wear around its edges. . Dr. Clarendon I. Shoop opened his medical practice in Racine in 1893, and by 1890 he had established a line of patent medicines that were sold door-to-door by agents. Its main product was Dr. Shoop's Restorative, a nerve tonic mixture of "Nuxvomica, blood roots, hyrastis, boric acid, alcohol, water and sugar syrup." Other products included Green Salve and cures for Catarrh, Croup, Cough, Rheumatism, Fever, Worms, and Pancreatic Pain. All were loaded with sugar, and some had alcohol contents of at least 12%. Shoop realized there was even bigger money to be made by selling his medicines through the mail, and launched a nationwide direct mail campaign that sent out as many as 400,000 pamphlets in a day. This packet does not attempt to describe his many patent medicines; rather it was an attempt to acquire as many customer names and addresses as possible, and it explained how to receive gift premiums for providing that information to the company. Shoop's "premium" rewards included tortoise shell combs, pearl pen holders, silver spoons, a scroll saw, a box camera, jewelry, knives, and variety of book sets. (For more information, see "Celebrating 175 years: Dr. Shoop, Racine's creator of 'nerve tonic'" in the 5 April 2010 edition of the Racine Post, available online.) .
  • $125
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1875 – An impressive invoice from the preeminent English steelworks to a Philadelphia bed and furniture factory

William Jessop & Sons This illustrated partially-printed invoice on thin paper measures approximately 10" x 15.5" unfolded. It was prepared by William Jessop & Sons, Steel Manufactures of Sheffield, England for crucible steel sold to J. C. Hand & Company in Philadelphia. The document is dated February 7, 1875. It is annotated in black and red ink in a hand different from the drafter. A partially-printed two-page import certificate measuring about 5.5" x 9" is attached. It is signed by C. B. Webster, the United States Consul at Sheffield. This certificate bears a red wax/paper seal attached to a short green cord. Both documents are attached to a plain green trifold file cover sheet that reads in part: "Mch 15 75 / J C Hand & Co / Str 'Kennelworth' / from Lpool. . ." In nice shape with a little wear. There is an old tape repair to the reverse of the green cover. The invoice billhead contains three illustrations: One shows a factory titled "Park|Works / Sheffield" A second show a factory titled "Soho Mills / Sheffield" The third which is larger than the other two shows a great complex of factories sitting astride a waterway and is titled "Brightside / Works / Sheffield" Additionally. the billhead notes that the company has offices in Manchester and Paris, and that Jessop Depots were located in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Rhode Island. . Thomas and William Jessop began their steel business with other family members in 1830 just as the market for crucible steel in the United States began to increase. The family moved its business to a location in Sheffield's Brightside area that included the site of a water works, and eventually encompassed 30 acres. Sheffield steel was highly regarded, especially by industries that required a high quality, especially pure, and exceptionally strong product. It dominated the US market until after the American Civil War when the combination of Great Lakes iron ore, cheap water transportation, and a seemingly limitless supply of Pennsylvania coal, iron caused the American steel industry to explode. Between 1875 and 1900, American steel production increased from one million to more than 10 million tons, and by 1910, the United States produced nearly 25 million tons each year, far more than any other country in the world. (For more information, see "A Brief History of the American Steel Industry" at the National Material Company website, "The Brief History of Steel in Sheffield" at the DH Scaffold Services website, and "A History of 'Steel City'" at the Sky History website.) An impressive remnant from the days of Britain's domination of the steel industry just before it was rapidly eclipsed by the United States. .
  • $200
1857 - A letter from the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad to the British agent for the Illinois Central Railroad regarding the payment of dividends written on an exceptionally rare

1857 – A letter from the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad to the British agent for the Illinois Central Railroad regarding the payment of dividends written on an exceptionally rare, illustrated letter stationery illustrated with a map of the system and containing a printed shareholder circular

J. EDGAR THOMSON This four-page lettersheet measures 19" x 11.5" unfolded. It contains a one-page manuscript letter written by J. Edgar Thomson, the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, at Philadelphia to William Ferguson, the British agent for the Illinois Central Railroad in New York City. It also includes a one-page shareholders' circular explaining why no dividends would be paid that year. The lettersheet is franked with a dull red 3-cent Washington stamp (Scott #26) canceled with a circular Philadelphia postmark. In nice shape with some minor edgewear and pinholes at intersecting mailing folds. A transcript of the manuscript letter will be provided. The map, titled Pennsylvania Rail Road and its Connections, shows the railroad system extending from New York in the east to Council Bluffs, Iowa and St. Joseph, Missouri in the west, and from Madison, Wisconsin in the North and continuing past Danville, Kentucky in the south. The printed circular provides Thomson's explanation as to why no dividends would be paid during 1857 which are tied to cut-throat competition with other east-west railroads, numerous "unremunerative tariffs," and a "fixed State 'duty upon tonnage.'" It also mentions an attempt to collectively control rates through an agreement with the New York Central, the New York and Erie, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads as well as its recent purchase of Pennsylvania's Mainline of Public Works. His manuscript letter to Ferguson provides amplification as well raises a concern that the Crimean War might affect the money market. It reads in part: "We have received some letters from our English Shareholders who protest against our paying any dividends while we have a floating debt. This is now the prevailing sentiment here, but I advocate the policy of a limitation of the debt, say not to exceed two or three percent upon capital stock of the company paid in - and with that views I intend to apply to the next Legislature to amend our Charter so that limit shall not be exceeded hereafter. I have always been opposed to a considerable floating debt, but the peculiar state of the money market since the Commencement of the Russian war. . . It serves the company you report now. . . I will meet you in New York on Tuesday morning. . ." . Thomson was the railroad's first chief engineer and became its third president in 1852. Under his guidance, the railroad became the largest in the world with 6000 miles of track and famous for generating steady dividends for investors through high quality construction, continuous technological improvements, and innovative management techniques. The Rare Book Hub and other auction databases suggest that Thomson autographed letters and documents are uncommon. This lettersheet is especially scarce. It is unlisted in Milgram's American Illustrated Letter Stationery 1819-1899, examples have never appeared at auction, and OCLC reports only two institutions hold examples (neither used, much less signed by Thomson). .
  • $750
1897 - Complete

1897 – Complete, unsevered paid-reply postal card set with a multi-color advertisement for Appleton’s Military Library Great Commanders Series

D. Appleton and Company This example of the first U.S. paid-reply postal card set (Scott #UY1) is unsevered; the postal message card (Scott #PM1) remains attached to its postal reply card (Scott #PR1). The indicia on both one-cent cards feature a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant as President. The postal message card was sent from D. Appleton and Company to Lieutenant J. C. Bush, U.S. Army at New York City's Governor's Island. It bears a duplex New York City postmark dated October 2, 1897. The postal reply card is uncancelled; it features an illustration in gold, blue-black, and gilt of a set of Appleton's Military Library Great Commanders Series. There is a near invisible two-inch mended split along the right edge of the message. Still in nice shape with little other wear; displays well from either side. The text accompanying the illustration of the book set reads in part: "Miniature Reproduction of "The Army and Navy" Artistic Edition of / Appleton's Military Library Great Commanders Series / Twelve Volumes, Half Morocco, Basket-linen Sides. Magnificent Illustration: A Gallery of Portraits, Maps, Military Diagrams, etc. " At the time this classic set sold for the "special price of $18.00 as follows: $1.50 after delivery of complete set and $1.50 monthly until full-paid." . A scarce complete and unsevered multicolor postal advertising item. .
  • $150
1867-1874 - Three letters from one of the worst (or unluckiest) sea captains who later established one of the most popular and long-lived ship chandleries on Martha's Vineyard

1867-1874 – Three letters from one of the worst (or unluckiest) sea captains who later established one of the most popular and long-lived ship chandleries on Martha’s Vineyard

Edward "Santa" St. Croix Oliver These three letters were all written by Edward ("Santa") St. Croix Oliver to family members during his time as a sea captain; one also includes a letter from his wife Sarah ("Sallie") Jane Johnson St. Croix. Two of the letters are in nice shape, and one has some insect/rodent predation that affects a very small amount of text. One is enclosed in a heavily worn mailing envelope from the Canary Islands that bears a manuscript annotation "African Mail", a Liverpool "Paid" transit mark, and a New York City "U.S. Currency" postmark. The other two letters are from Guanape, Peru and Leghorn (Livorno), Italy Transcripts will be provided. Oliver ran away from his Boston home in 1850 at the age of 17 to become a sailor for the next thirty years. He captained three different ships, all with disastrous results. His first ship, the Harry Bluff, struck South Shoal off Nantucket and ruptured its hull while carrying a cargo that included 1,200 tons of salt. As the salt began to quickly dissolve, Oliver and his 17-man crew were forced to abandon the top-heavy vessel. Two crewmembers drowned. The other 16 men spent hours drifting in an open longboat; two of them froze to death. His second ship, the Garnet, lost its rudder and split its stern post while rounding Cape Horn; the ship was lost but the crew rescued. Oliver's last captaincy of the Cashmere ended with his arrest for allowing his First Mate to beat a crewmember to death with a belaying pin and sanctioning other cruel punishments as well. Although criminal charges appear to have been dismissed, Oliver was dismissed by his employer and blackballed from ever captaining another vessel. Subsequently, he and Sallie settled in the port of Vineyard Vines and in 1882 opened a combination ship chandlery, grocery, general store, and bathhouse where Steamship Authority now stands. Their business became a popular gathering spot for sailors and captains to swap yarns and exchange the latest maritime news. Oliver retired and sold his store in 1907 after which he wintered in Bermuda until his death seven years later. Oliver's letters are especially entertaining and include stories about the birth of his son aboard ship while loading guano off the coast of Peru, a devasting storm that destroyed the harbor at Valencia, and the astonishment of Europeans over a monitor when pulled into port. They read in part: "We had a Splendid run to Gibraltar making the passage in eighty five days and besting every thing on the road we Lay at that port a week for Orders since then proceeded to Valencia in Spain where we lay fifty days discharging our cargo during which time we had a fearfull gale which drove three the Large Ships, a Brig and a Schooner ashore Staving them all to pieces and losing about fifty lives in Sight of thousands of people who could not render the least assistance the "Henry Bluff" just escaped by getting inside of the Breakwater the day before the gale came on had she not got in on that day She would have been a wreck on the next. . . "The Man of War Steamer 'August' accompanied by one of our double turreted Monitors has just left here for Rome I tell you Ned it makes the people up this way Stick theire eyes out when they think what we Yankeys can do I Suppose theire was not a Man Woman or Child in Leghorn that [didn't go] on board of the Monitor. . . One of the Officers of her told me that She had Surprised them at every port at which they had touched. [They] say that the Yankees have some dealings with the Devil to get up a thing like her. . . "It is now just one week since Our Boy was born and I am happy to Say that both Mother and child are doing finely. . . He is hearty as a Buck and lungs in him like the Boatswain of a 'seventy four'. . . twice Theire are about 60 Ships here and the day after he was born they all had hoisted their flags in his honor . . . he is a true full blooded American of the first water. You may think it strange but he had not been this world an hour and a half before
  • $950
1861 (1911) - A veteran of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry provides first-hand personal observations about Ulysses S. Grant's earliest Civil War service as the colonel commanding that regiment

1861 (1911) – A veteran of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry provides first-hand personal observations about Ulysses S. Grant’s earliest Civil War service as the colonel commanding that regiment

A. C. McKitrick This three-page letter was written by A. C. McKitrick in response to a friend, J.W. Boos. It is datelined "May 31st 1911. / Sandyville W. Va." and details the first few weeks of then Colonel Ulysses S. Grant's first eight weeks of command of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the spring of 1861. A note in the extreme left margin of the first page reads, "I want to have sheets bound on the ends." The binding sheets are no longer present; however, the typed transcript of the letter is still attached in the rear. In nice shape. The letter reads in part: "I was with the regt only two months when shot through the neck by the accidental discharge of a gun . . . discharged early in 1862. "Grant was a low heavy set man, heavy whiskers closely trimmed, Rather dark complexion. Our first duty after organization was to march to Quincy on the Mississippi. Thence by rail to Macon Mo. Then south to Mexico in Audrain Co. [Missouri], where we drilled a few days. Grant was a very strict disciplinarian. He took us out on a beautiful prarie to drill. Beyond the prairie was a large farm house with porch above and below. Our drill ground was right in front of that house. On one occasion a lady came out on the upper porch dressed in white and seated herself on a chair. She was a conspicuous figure with her feet on the banisters. Of course she drew our attention . . . Grant called the company officers to him lectured them. Finally he drew us up with the lift wing toward the house. And instead of dressing to the right we wanted to dress to the left. . . Grant caught on and he yelled out as wicked as a wild cat "Eyes right off of that woman, G-d d---- it.". . Then he drilled us for about a half hour. Sun up in 90 degrees. Oh were glad when we were sent to our quarters. . . "He was an inveterate smoker. He always had a cigar in his mouth. Upon a certain occasion when we were down the Mississippi Grant had occasion to lecture a raw recruit about his duty when he was on guard at his headquarters. shortly after, this same recruit was on guard on board of a steam boat laden with powder &c. with orders not to allow any one to come nearer than fifty feet with a lighted cigar while on guard, he saw General Grant coming puffin a cigar. At a certain distance he called our "halt." At the same time he brought his gun to his shoulder. Grant stopped. He said I have orders to allow no one on this boat with a lighted cigar. Grant looked at him dropped the cigar in the water. The guard brought his gun to a salute. Grant passed on to the boat. . ." . An uncommon first-hand description of Grant's first Civil War command from a private in the regiment. At the time of listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade. Also, nothing similar has come up for auction per the Rare Book Hub, nor is held by institutions per OCLC. However, both databases indicate that a number of autographed letters signed by Grant as the commander of the 21st have been sold at auction and are in academic collections. .
  • $350
1861 - The most spectacular anti-secession patriotic envelope published during the Civil War

1861 – The most spectacular anti-secession patriotic envelope published during the Civil War

Harbach & Brothers This unused patriotic propaganda envelope is known as "the Snake of South Carolina." It was produced and sold by Harbach & Bro. of Philadelphia early in 1861. The design is printed in five colors: red, blue, brown, green, and purple. It features a bald eagle in the midst of killing a nest of vipers while standing in front of the National Colors and upon a ripped and torn Confederate flag. Fort Sumter can be seen in the distance along with small portraits of President Andrew Jackson and his Vice-President John C. Calhoun. Text on the reverse reads in part: "The destruction of the Snake of South Carolina / Nullification and Secession, and all her progeny by the / NATIONAL BIRD. / To portray the ultimate overthrow of the evil power, which strikes at the like / of the National Government, is the object of this cut. . ." . The use of Jackson and Calhoun images along with the term "nullification," harkens back to Jackson's tumultuous presidency which presaged the Civil War. While too complex to detail here, the pair soon came to detest each other shortly after their inauguration over spats between their wives, social insults, pork barrel politics, and the revelation that during the First Seminole War Calhoun had led an attempt to relieve Jackson from his military duties. However, it was Calhoun's support of states' rights and Jackson's disavowal of the same that fractured the Executive Branch. In 1828 and 1832, Congress passed two laws imposing tariffs that aided the North's economy while harming that of the South. Calhoun resigned his position as Vice-President to campaign against the tariff acts and urging their nullification by the Southern States. Under his leadership, South Carolina passed an ordinance declaring those acts unconstitutional and ordering no such taxes were to be collected in the state. In response President Jackson deployed several warships and an army force under the command of General Winfield Scott to Charleston to ensure federal laws were enforced, after which, South Carolina suspended its nullification ordinance. Precedence had been set by force; all states were required to enforce federal laws even if they found some detrimental to their interests. Jackson's actions prevented bloodshed over states' rights, but only until the issue boiled over thirty years later with regard to slavery. This envelope is exceptionally scarce and considered the most desirable patriotic cover issued during the Civil War. A postally used example, one of only a few known, sold at a 2016 Seigel philatelic auction for $14,000. While unused examples are not so rare, they only infrequently appear at auction or for sale. (For more information, see Long's "Jackson vs. Calhoun" at the Ohio State University's eHistory website, Lane's American Philatelic Society Handbook "The Harry F. Allen Collection of Black Jacks," and auction results at the StampAuction Network, all available online. .
  • $200
1846 - Letter describing the celebrations in Nashville

1846 – Letter describing the celebrations in Nashville, Tennessee as “Vollenteers” began to form companies to fight in the Mexican-American War

Charles M. King This four-page stampless folded letter with two pages of text measures 16½" x 10" unfolded. It was sent by Charles M. King in Nashville to Miss Anna Louisa Bockins of Philaldelphia. The letter is dated May 13, 1846, and bears a circular Nashville postmark dated May 24. In nice shape. A transcript will be provided. Charles reports that war fever that had gripped Nashville and describes his trip from Philadelphia. "There was a large war meeting held at the Court house on the 19th inst on which occasion governor Brown . . . addressed the citizens a great strain of eloquent war speeches, the excitement here is very great on last evening the requisition arived . . . calling for 3 regiments of Vollenteers amounting to twenty eight hundred & fifty men there are three companys of vollenteers ready formed & parading through the City daily, playing Yankee doodle, hail Colombia and various other airs. . . The drums are continually ringing through my head. . . On the passage here we Stopt at . . . Louisville in Kentucky which is one of the most beautiful places that I have seen. . . After a passage of eleven days during which time I enjoyed good health & every convenience of . . . I took bording at a private house with a Mr. Butler, whoom I believe to be very much of a gentelman, the price of bording, being $2.25 per week, the wages variaing from eight to ten dollars but I have not yet engaged. . . There is a great deal of building here . . . likewise a great number of hands to perform the work which renders it difficult to get employment, but I have a very fair prospect of getting a good job of work twelve miles out from the City . . . $1.75cts per day and bord included should I be successful . . . I will redily accept If not I think it probable that I will leave for St Louis and perhaps for Galena, I shall determine in two or three days wether I go or stay, this has been the cause of my delaying writing to you Sooner. . ." . In 1846, the United States went to war with Mexico due to a combination of reasons including boundary disputes, attacks upon U.S. Army patrols, bitterness over Texas's joining the Union, and an ever-growing belief in Manifest Destiny. As the U.S. Army consisted of only 9,000 soldiers, President Polk realized that the country would need to rely upon volunteers from the slates. So, the Secretary of War, William Marcy, sent calls to each of the states. Tennessee was asked to provide two regiments of infantry and one of cavalry totaling around 2,800 men. When Governor Brown broadcast the call, over 30,000 Tennesseans enthusiastically volunteered to fight in the war, earning the sobriquet, the "Volunteer State" and making it necessary to conduct a lottery to fairly determine who would be allowed to serve. (For more information, see "Mexican-American War" at the Encyclopedia Britannia, "The Mexican-American war in a nutshell" at the National Constitution Center, and Johnson's "Mexican War" at the Tennessee Encyclopedia, all available online.) Scarce, no similar first-hand descriptions of the celebrations to provide volunteers to fight in Mexico are for sale in the trade. OCLC identifies no similar items, although some may be held in two or three collections of personal papers from Tennessee volunteers who served in the war. .
  • $450
1899 - Letter regarding the settlement of a benevolent association insurance policy following the death of a Czech immigrant

1899 – Letter regarding the settlement of a benevolent association insurance policy following the death of a Czech immigrant

Central Committee of Sisterhood Benevolent Union This registered letter from the Ustredni Vybor Sesterska Podporujici Jednota (Central Committee of Sisterhood Benevolent Union) was sent to a Czech immigrant in Racine, Wisconsin from Cleveland, Ohio on December 6, 1899. The letter and its accompanying mailing envelope bear the Sisterhood's logo, a flying dove carrying an olive branch in its beak. The envelope is franked with a violet eight-cent violet-brown Sherman stamp (Scott Type A93) and two-cent red Washington stamp (Scott #252), both tied with an oval Cleveland Station D registration cancel. There is an additional registration postmark on the front that reads, "Registered / Dec 6 |1899 / Station D, / Cleveland, Ohio" and one on the reverse that reads, "Registered / Dec 8 1899 / Racine, Wis." In nice shape. . Czechs were one of the oldest immigrant groups to settle in Cleveland, Ohio beginning after the failure of the Bohemian Revolution of 1848. Many had originally planned to establish homesteads in Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa, however during rest stops in Cleveland, they found its then suburban fringe to their liking. The Czech Sisterhood Benevolent Union was a mutual benevolent society headquartered in the city which, in 1919, consisted of 15,000 members in 72 branches throughout the Midwest. Benevolent societies were voluntary non-profit fraternal organizations established to provide life and health insurance to members who required assistance following a family sickness or death. Many were established by immigrant, religious, and worker organizations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to providing insurance, the Sesterska Podporujici Jednota also helped fund the Bohemian Home for the Aged and Orphanage (located in Chicago,) in conjunction with other Czech benevolent associations. (For more information, see Ledbetter's The Czechs of Cleveland and "Bohemian Home for the Aged and Orphanage," both available online.) This registered letter, which included payment of a $300 death benefit was sent to the sister of Anne Buchacek for distribution among Anne's heirs. A nice example of the work done by immigrant benevolent associations. .
  • $150
1840 - An illustrated letter sheet listing subscribers who have pledged money for the annual Whig Fourth of July celebration and William Henry Harrison's campaign for president

1840 – An illustrated letter sheet listing subscribers who have pledged money for the annual Whig Fourth of July celebration and William Henry Harrison’s campaign for president

Unlisted The bifold letter sheet (Milgram WH-8) measures 8" x 9¾" folded. It is datelined "Salem June 1840." It features a portrait of a long-faced, dour Harrison with a rustic log cabin scene alongside. Two soldiers and a civilian are drinking cups of "hard cider" drawn from a barrel sitting next to the cabin's door. A plow, symbolizing simple hard-working famers stands next to the men. An imprint under the scene reads "Sold by Peter C. Jones, 110 State St., Boston." Beneath the illustration, the unnamed donation coordinator has written, "It being necessary in order to defray the expenses of the Whig Celebration of the Fourth of July ensuring in addition to the cost of the collations [probably food, drink, and fireworks] which has been fixed at 50c to raise the sum of about Six hundred dollars We the subscribers agree to pay the sums placed against our respective names." Forty-seven Whig subscribers signed the pledge on two pages, and the list of names includes several prominent Salem citizens, e.g., Caleb Foote, Winthrop Sergeant, Stephen Webb, Joshua Phippin, B.R. Peabody and Thomas Downing. . The election occurred during the worst depression that the United States had then yet experienced, and the public blamed the incumbent, President Martin Van Buren. Harrison campaigned as a "log cabin - hard cider" man of the people, while portraying Van Buren as indifferent to the public's pain. After Harrison was elected, he gave an inauguration speech that lasted almost two hours in cold and inclement weather. He contracted pneumonia and died one month later. (For more information, see Milgram's Presidential Campaign Illustrated Envelopes and Letter Paper 1840-1872 and Lot 176 in Bonham's 11 April 2016 Caren II auction.) At the time of listing, no Harrison campaign letter sheets are for sale in the trade, and OCLC does not identify any in institutional holdings. However, they occasionally appear at auctions. The Rare Book Hub and Stamp Auction Network show six have appeared at auction including this specific item which sold at a 2016 Bonhams auction. .
  • $375
1885 - Illustrated flyer offering board-free enrollment at the Maryland Military and Naval Academy that was beset by scandal

1885 – Illustrated flyer offering board-free enrollment at the Maryland Military and Naval Academy that was beset by scandal

This four-page, partially printed handbill, measuring 5½" x 8¼", offering board-free enrollment as a "Special Cadet" at the Maryland Military and Naval Academy is datelined "Oxford, Md. Dec 26 1885. The name field is blank. A large patriotic illustration titled "The Maryland Military & Naval Academy / Oxford. Md." Decorates the cover. Storage folds. The application reads in part: "You are hereby informed that you have been appointed through Supreme Judge, Towville, NY, as a Special Cadet. . . You will immediately signify by letter . . . your acceptance or nonacceptance . . . and in the event of your appointment . . . report for duty Jan 4. . . / Expenses of a Special Cadet, from January 4 to June 12, 1885 / Board Free, tuition $80, room rent $15, washing $15, fuel and lights $15. Total $125 . . . The Expense of a Pay Cadet are $350 per School year." An internal page of requirements reads in part: "The applicant must be at least thirteen years of age. . . The Special Cadet will also be required to provide himself with the uniform of the Academy. . ." and a long list of clothing and equipment that were required to be purchased from the academy. . The academy, a preparatory school for West Point and Annapolis, was established by ex-Confederate Colonel Otto Tighman. It was based upon a similar institution at Oxford that had been destroyed by fire in 1885. It had an excellent facility, first-class faculty, and two vessels (a schooner and clipper ship). Its first class attracted over 250 students from prominent families from thirty states. However, the school was quickly beset by financial problems and after its cooks and servants quit because they had not been paid, the school's 180 cadets were not fed. Subsequently, four cadets got drunk on hard cider and attacked the assistant superintendent at home and cut off his beard with shears. Afterward fifty cadets went to a local restaurant for a celebratory meal. The next January, the superintendent, B. J. Burges, convinced a retired Army major to purchase the academy. After the major did, he discovered that Burgess had absconded with at least $50,000 of academy funds causing the school to fold in March of 1887. A subsequent state investigation revealed the students had been supplied with insufficient numbers of uniforms, only one or two rooms had been heated, the water supply was unpotable, and meals were sparse and of poor quality. (For more information, see "Museum Unveils 'Scoundrels and Scandals' Exhibit" at the Oxford Museum website, "Rebellious Maryland Boys" from the 29 September 1886 edition of The Boston Globe, and a host of other contemporary newspaper articles, all available online.) Scarce. At the time of listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade, and the Rare Book Hub shows no similar items have appeared at auction. OCLC identifies no institutional holdings of original source materials related to this academy. .
  • $200
Circa 1865-1870 - Thank you letter from General Robert E. Lee's daughter

Circa 1865-1870 – Thank you letter from General Robert E. Lee’s daughter, Mildred to Mrs. Preston, probably the daughter of a former President of Washington College and wife of the founder of the Virginia Military Institute

Mildred Childe Lee This undated luncheon thank you note, signed by Robert E. Lee's daughter, Mildred Childe Lee, was hand delivered to "Ms. Preston / At Home". It is in nice shape with light toning and a short tape repair to split along a fold. In this letter Lee thanks Preston for a luncheon and remarks that she desires to share a gift of sugar plum candy received from her father, Robert E. Lee, with Mrs. Preston's boys. "My dear Mrs Preston All of us enjoyed yr nice lunch yesterday & Moma desired me to than you for it. I hope the walking will permit you soon to come & see us & that you will come prepared to spend a long time. A delightful Candy friend in Richmond sent me by Papa a large supply of sugar plums & I send some to the dear little boys. Yrs affec'ly Mildred Lee" . As Mildred Lee was living in Lexington, Virginia at the time while her father was serving as the president of Washington College (today Washington & Lee University), Mrs. Preston was undoubtedly Mrs. Margaret Junkin Preston, the daughter of a former president of Washington College and the second wife of one of the founders of the Virginia Military Institute, which is also located in Lexington. At the time of this letter, Mrs. Preston had two young boys, George and Herbert. Mrs. Preston, an associate of Robert Browing, Lord Tennyson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Christina Rosetti, was known as the Poet Laureate of the Confederacy. She was an important southern apologist and champion of "The Lost Cause" who authored the oft quoted and widely anthologized work, Beechenbrook: A Rhyme of the War, and wrote extensively for popular magazines and newspapers. (For more information, see Carrino's "Lee's Daughters, Part 5: Mildred Childe Lee" at the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable website and "Margaret Junkin (1820-1897)" at the Joseph Junkin Family Tree website.) The Rare Book Hub shows this letter was sold at a University Archives auction in 2022. .
  • $150
1847 - Circular addressing a conflict between the "Grand and Subordinate Division of Maryland" and National Division of the Sons of Temperance which was sent to a "Brother" in Maine with a cover letter discussing the location of the society's next quarterly meeting

1847 – Circular addressing a conflict between the “Grand and Subordinate Division of Maryland” and National Division of the Sons of Temperance which was sent to a “Brother” in Maine with a cover letter discussing the location of the society’s next quarterly meeting

Philip L. White and Fred. A. Fickhardt This four-page folded letter contains a two-page printed circular with a blue Sons of Temperance seal and a one-page manuscript letter. The circular is signed in print by Philip L. White and Fred. A. Fickhardt and datelined "Philadelphia, November 16, 1847", The letter is datelined "Phila. Dec 7/47" and signed by White. It bears a blue "10 Cts" Philadelphia postmark also dated December 7th and was sent to the Reverend J. P. Weston, leader of Maine's temperance movement, in Gardiner. The Sons of Temperance, a semi-secret organization dedicated to "free the intemperate from the Slavery of King Alcohol," was divided into Subordinate, Grand, and National Divisions. It was established in 1847 on the bones of a prior temperance group, the Washington Temperance Society which had fractured into ungovernable pieces over prohibition, religion, politics, and abolition. To become a Son, members had to pledge not to manufacture, sell, or drink any intoxicants. Before being accepted for membership, an applicant's lifestyle was thoroughly investigated and had to be approved by a panel of members. One of the biggest benefits of membership was the organization's beneficial services which provided insurance in case of illness, unemployment, or death. These were funded by a two-dollar initiation fee and six-cent per week dues. While this might initially seem insignificant, by 1850, the Sons had over 230,000 members, so its coffers must have been full. This circular addresses attempts to mollify members of the Maryland Grand Division who were apparently dissatisfied with management of the benevolent fund. The letter informs Weston that the next quarterly meeting would not be held in Waterville and alludes to the resolution of some undescribed controversy. . (For more information, see Beattie's "Sons of temperance: Pioneers in total abstinence and 'Constitutional' prohibition," Chapman's "The Mid-Nineteenth-Century Temperance Movement in New Brunswick and Maine," and One Hundred Years of Temperance: A Memorial Volume of the Centennial Temperance Conference Held in Philadelphia, Pa., September 1885, all available online.) Scarce. At the time of listing, no similar circulars are for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub shows none have appeared at auction. OCLC shows none held by institutions, however some libraries hold reprints or digital copies of a Sons of Temperance circular distributed in Nova Scotia. .
  • $150
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1862 – Letter from a Texas soldier describing his part the riverine battle for control of the White River in Arkansas

This three-page letter was written by Corporal James J. Scales of the 10th Texas Infantry to his grandfather. It is datelined "Camp retreat. White River Ak. June 22 1862". No mailing envelope. In nice shape. A transcript will be provided. After Union Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis drove Southern forces from Missouri at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March of 1862, morale within the Confederate Army's Trans-Mississippi Department, headquartered in Little Rock, was running low. However, with the arrival of the 10th Texas Infantry Regiment hope was rejuvenated. General Thomas C. Hindman deployed the Texans to DeValls Bluff in support the Confederate Navy's defense of the White and Arkansas Rivers, which were critically important for the movement of soldiers and supplies. As Union gunboats moved up the White River, three companies were dispatched down river to defend a fort at St. Charles and block the Union advance. Although the Union force captured the fort, it was a pyrrhic victory, and it soon withdrew as the Union gunboat USS Mound City was destroyed by "the deadliest shot of the war" when a single artillery round pierced its steam drum. 105 men were scalded to death and another 25 were seriously injured by the steam. Scales's letter details the movement of his infantry unit as well as the cat-and-mouse movements of Confederate and Union vessels on the river. It reads in part: "When we reached white River we was ordered down . . . to a fort by the name of St. Charles . . . about ninty five miles below. . . The River is very narrow and crocked. we traviled until about midnight we was caught in a very severe storm we tried to land the boat [and] finily we made her fast until the Storm was over. When the Storm calmed down we uncabled and started and traveled about eight miles down the River . . . and was halted By a gentleman [who] said the gun boats is just below you. The boat that we was on turned in a hurrie we landed up the River about two miles . . . and unloaded our plunder and toated it off in the Brush and hid it. we took our knapsacks and blanket a piece and Started up the River . . . about two miles and camped. the Col. Sent two cavalry down the River to fight the gun Boats until we could get fixed above. however [when] they was going down . . . the gun boats came in and took the fort that we was going to. those cavalry companies . . . and a few citizens would lie in ambush. and the transports would come they would fight them until the gun Boats would come back and whip them off. they fought this way until they got up to were we got off the boats. they . . . enquired for Nelson's Regt. they told them that was going back to Little Rock, but they knew better. . . they took one of the gun Boats and two of the transports and put one on each side of gun boat and started the other gun in front, but the Texas boys got to bush whackin it with the gun Boats and they turned back. If they had come up to where this Regt was in ambush we would have taken them shure for we had the prettiest place to fight there in the world. So we are now stationed on white river awaiting the movement of the feds. . ." . Interestingly, Scales does not mention the destruction of the Union gunboat USS Mound City. Probably, his unit did not witness the explosion while hidden upriver preparing to ambush the flotilla. (For more information, see Bearss' "The White River Expedition June 10-July 15, 1862" in The Arkansas Historical Quarterly (Winter, 1962), "Brigadier-General Allison Nelson" in Confederate Military History vol XV online, and Hamilton's "Tenth Texas Infantry" at the Texas State Historical Association website.) A rare first-hand confederate soldier's account of an important, but often forgotten riverine battle for control of the Arkansas rivers that were crucial to the Confederate defense of that state. At the time of listing, there is nothing similar for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub identifies one auction of a Union soldiers diary wi