Important Lincoln letters bring over $90,000 in American History auction

CINCINNATI — Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. American History: Live Salesroom Auction realized $724,000 on December 7, 2012. More than 300 bidders on the floor, phone and Internet participated in the auction. The sale featured rare Lincoln letters, political campaign ephemera, photographs, Civil War collectibles, flags and archives. Political campaign ephemera and historical flags drove the auction to success with several lots realizing far beyond their presale estimates.

Abraham Lincoln ALS to Hannibal Hamlin Emphasizing the Importance of Winning Maine in the upcoming election - realized $70,500. Photo courtesy Cowan's.

Abraham Lincoln ALS to Hannibal Hamlin Emphasizing the Importance of Winning Maine in the upcoming election – realized $70,500. Photo courtesy Cowan’s.

“We were elated with the strong prices achieved in this auction,” notes Katie Horstman, Director, Cowan’s American History Department, “From the Hannibal Hamlin Family Collection of manuscripts and campaign ferrotypes to the Wright Brother’s tools and related material, the results prove that exceptional historical collectibles continue to bring outstanding prices!”


This article originally appeared in Antique Trader magazine

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Two Lincoln letters, descended directly in the family of Lincoln’s first Vice President and U.S. Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, highlighted the auction sales. The first, which hammered down at $23,500, was written before the Republican Convention of 1860, and is Lincoln’s first communication with his potential running mate. The second, which sold to a phone bidder for $70,500, is Lincoln’s letter to Hamlin emphasizing the importance of winning Maine in the upcoming election. Hearing that Lincoln and Hamlin might lose Maine, the future president writes to his running mate excoriating him and concluding, “You must not let that happen.”

A number of historical flags sold above estimate, launching a successful auction. Bidders on the phone, Internet and floor vied for a 43-Star Naval Flag with a diamond-shaped star configuration. The flag tripled its pre-auction estimate of $6,000-$8,000 and realized $23,500. A 13-Star Flag made by Betsy Ross’ Granddaughter sold for $7,050 and a 37-Star American National Flag hammered down at $3,900.

43-Star Naval Flag with a diamond-shaped star configuration - realized $23,500

43-Star Naval Flag with a diamond-shaped star configuration – realized $23,500

Photography also exceeded presale expectations in the December 7 sale. Six bidders on the phone battled aggressively for A Remarkable Half Plate Tintype of Cowboys off the Range, possibly including cowhand E.C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott, sold well above its $2,500-$3,500 estimate and realized $19,975.

Estimated before the auction at $1,500-$2,500, a Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Possibly Earliest Known Photograph, featuring the active railroad roundhouse, sold for $7,050.

Items from the Wright Brothers bicycle shop also brought competitive bidding. A set of Prop Shaft Oilers used on Wright Flyers realized $9,400. A set of Spokes used in the making of their own brand of bicycle sold for $5,944 and a lot of Original Envelopes and Drill Bits used in the shop realized $5,875.

Archives and political ephemera did particularly well in the auction with ambitious bidding driving the sale prices up. Seven phone bidders battled for a James A. Garfield Family Gold Quartz Match Safe, which sold for $18,800. A well-documented Book from Thomas Jefferson’s Library, with annotation in his hand, realized $24,675 and a George Washington Signed Land Grant fetched $12,337.

For more information about the auction or to consign for our upcoming 2013 auctions, visit cowans.com or call Katie Horstman at 513-871-1670 ext. 46.

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