For September 17th, Heritage Auctions announced “Lincoln & His Times” Auction #6163. This is truly a “special event” – a collaborative effort between Heritage Auctions and “The Rail Splitter” on-line journal, celebrating the 20thanniversary of that scholarly and entertaining publication. As the title of the sale indicates, the subject matter encompasses not only Abraham Lincoln, but the Civil War, and politics in the 1844-1872 period. The Floor Session of the sale is organized similarly to past “Rail Splitter” auctions, with some modifications.
The first part is devoted primarily to Lincoln (photography, autographs, political campaign items, African Americana, miscellaneous ephemera, and art works). Civil War material follows (Confederate and Union photography, autographs, and ephemera). The Civil War section includes many Lincoln-related items, so check each and every lot and do not assume that all Lincoln material appears in the first part.
There’s so much good stuff in the sale such as the best autograph item – December 13, 1836, letter written by Abraham Lincoln to his erstwhile fiancée, Mary Owens. The letter, close to two full pages in length, is one of the few “love letters” Lincoln wrote that are still extant (Mary Todd Lincoln having destroyed all those in her possession).
Lincoln discusses politics and “opens his heart” to discuss feelings of longing, loneliness, and depression. Eventually, Lincoln sought to end the engagement, if ever there was one, and was relieved when Owens blew him off. Lincoln thought Owens had packed on the weight and became a “veritable Falstaff” while Ms. Owens later defended her decision by claiming Lincoln lacked the “links” necessary in forming a woman’s happiness.
The best numismatic item is the Henry Clay U.S. Mint presentation medal made from pure California gold.
Also interesting pieces are: a crafted silk banner presented to Stephen A. Douglas prior to the start of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Galesburg, Illinois on October 7, 1858, held on the grounds of Knox College; a fine assortment of items related to Mary Todd Lincoln, including letters, a family photo of Tad, and assorted clothing and many pieces of porcelain, campaign and commemorative, as well as later art works.