AS IF you hadn’t heard enough already of the American presidential election, here’s my two-cents worth of contribution.
New York auctioneer Swanns had an extraordinary item in their November 1 sale – an autograph album containing the signatures of every consecutive occupant of the White House from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama – and the signatures of no fewer than 14 presidents on a single page!
The album actually contained more than 130 signatures of mostly political and military notables, including Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet; Ulysses S. Grant; high-ranking officers of the US army and navy and leading senators and representatives of the US Congress.
Other famous figures included P. T. Barnum of circus fame, who signed the album in 1858, and Generals Custer and Sheridan.
Most of the autographs were written on the first two or three pages of the album, leaving its last 17 pages blank.
The album was purchased in 1954 by collector and Manuscript Society president Herbert Klingelhofer (1915-2015), who obtained further presidential signatures beginning with Herbert Hoover the following year. It was consigned for sale by his family.
Included in the auction lot was Klingelhofer’s purchase receipt for the album and letters from secretaries accepting or returning the album to be autographed, most with their original envelopes.
These included Bernice Miller, secretary to Hoover (September 9, 1955); Evelyn Lincoln, secretary to Kennedy (February 20, 1962); Juanita D. Roberts, secretary to Johnson (April 14, 1964); Fram Voorde, scheduling director to Carter (December 19, 1976); David C. Fischer, secretary to Reagan (December 2, 1980); Robert Moore, associate of G.H.W. Bush’s secretary Lisa Jobe (November 28, 1988), along with a colour photograph showing President Obama signing the album.
The 18 presidents to have handled this remarkable item were Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Housed in a cloth chemise and bespoke slipcase, the album met pre-sale expectations by taking $60,000, or around £48,000.
As they say in this trade, show me another!