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Heritage Americana and Political Auction: Impressive May 13th Auction Enters Home Stretch

March 24 Texana and Western Americana Auction At Heritage Auction Ends SoonWe are busy photographing and describing over 600 items that have been consigned to our May 13th Americana & Political Auction #6172. The consignment deadline was March 22nd, so we’re now focused on catalog work with production deadlines looming. Each day, more items are posted to our online preview catalog. Until the items are fully described and imaged, we can only talk about them in general terms. Still, it won’t be long until everything is posted.

We’ve had two specialized Lincoln sales in the past which were huge successes, but not everybody collects Lincoln (it’s a good thing, too!), so we decided to expand our horizons. The result is a special section in our upcoming catalog devoted to “George Washington and the Founding Fathers”. This offering will include a wide range of materials, including manuscripts, imprints, artwork, inaugural buttons (four – count ’em – four – including a unique specimen in silver), Creamware, and assorted artifacts, highlighted by a hand-painted parade banner dating from Washington’s time in office. There are also some neat items related to the Revolutionary War, dealing with the battles of Lexington & Concord, Crown Point, and Yorktown.


As usual, the catalog will include some “Legends of the West” material. What we may lack in quantity, we more-than-make-up-for in quality or substance. The highlight is sure to be a constable or sheriff’s badge for one of the foremost names in the Wild West (we’ll give you a hint… his last name rhymes with “burp”). That item is thoroughly documented with impeccable provenance. Another noteworthy item is a sixth plate daguerreotype of Kit Carson, believed to be the earliest known portrait of the famous frontiersman, scout, and Indian agent. Practically every week, we receive inquiries about vintage photographs that the owners believe depict one famous person or another. These rarely pan out but, in this case, we actually agreed with the consignor’s identification and felt confident enough to accept it for auction.

Even though we put “Old Abe” on the back burner for the time being, there are still plenty of choice Lincoln items to whet your appetite! We have a gorgeous 47mm. “big doughnut” ferrotype in choice condition. This is the especially desirable version with funky hand-written names and a six-pointed star. We also have a gorgeous pair of Lincoln and Douglas “belt buckle” ferrotypes in roped frames with matching roped loops at the top. Both the “doughnut” and the oval ferrotypes came out of an old-time collection we have been keeping our eyes on for over 40 years! The collection also includes some great tokens and medals. Finally, the time has arrived for their dispersal to a new generation of collectors (or, in the case of Tom and myself, some old geezers).

Moving forward in time just a bit, we have the only known example of a silk ribbon from the Democratic convention of 1872, held in Baltimore, that nominated Horace Greeley. Greeley was also nominated by the Liberal Republicans in Cincinnati. Despite two nominations, he still lost the election (William Jennings Bryan managed to replicate the feat in 1896 with the same result). We are offering a wonderful example of the Teddy Roosevelt “ghost button” from 1904. It shows TR, Washington, and Lincoln, all on one button! How appropriate, given the emphasis we, as collectors, place on these three great Americans! A while back, we received an inquiry about one of these that had light stains on the bottom. We replied, then, about a week later, received an inquiry about the same button, but the stains were gone! Given the great rarity of this piece and, knowing how infrequently they surface, we assumed it was the same button and that the stains were simply dirt that the owner was able to clean off. After a brief period of befuddlement (common among the 60+ set), we realized it was a different example and a different owner! And, thanks to the “gods of auction,” we were able to secure it for our clients! Another choice political set for auction is the popular “racetrack” jugate dime bank for Wilson & Marshall. We’ve seen these in thin and thick sizes and most have condition problems. This is an especially fine example. We’re not sure who designated these the “racetrack” jugate but, in my palmy days, whenever I ventured out to the racetrack, I used to say “I’m going to the oval.” Take it from me… this is a “sure thing!”

We are making an effort to diversify our offerings and include more non-political items. With that end in mind and, following the successful sale of the Edison light bulbs in our last auction, we are offering a good number of aviation lots in our upcoming sale. Five lots relate to the 1911 cross-country trip of the so-called “Vin Fiz” flyer. The trip was sponsored by Armour & Company to promote their beverage “Vin Fiz”. The trip from New York to Pasadena took over a month with many stops and crashes along the way. The trip was well-publicized and generated a good deal of ephemera. The material we are offering (such as the pennant signed by pilot Charles Rogers) was collected by an ancestor of the consignor, a New Yorker who was the chauffeur of the Armour & Company representative on the support team that shadowed the flight. Having failed to meet the time limit established for the trip, the pilot did not win the prize money being offered, but it was still progress in the fledgling field of aviation… a “tiny leap” for mankind, you might say!

Finally, we include a special item relating to a personal hero… Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This is a reel-to-reel audio tape recording of the last full staff meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, held by Dr. King in Atlanta in January 1968. The subject of that meeting was the planned “Poor People’s Campaign” and march on Washington, scheduled for mid-April. Known as the “See you in Washington” speech, it apparently is the only recording known, even though the King Archives and Library has an unpublished transcript. The 24-minute speech, or sermon, is vintage King and very inspirational. He uses many religious references and sports metaphors. At the conclusion of the speech, seeming quite tired and perhaps discouraged, King declares “If I don’t see you before, I will see you in Washington.” His tragic assassination in Memphis precluded that. The quality of the recording is excellent and one senses oneself seated right next to Dr. King as he speaks to his colleagues and followers. We anticipate posting a four-minute sample video on YouTube when the sale goes live. If you remember those eventful days, check it out and be inspired again!

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