Abraham Lincoln Letters & Signed Photograph

Value (2007) | $75,000 Retail$100,000 Retail
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GUEST:
My stepfather's father was a collector of Lincoln things. He was a Chicago businessman, and, you know, being from Illinois, he was very fond of Lincoln. And he had a large collection of things that, when he died in the 1960s, went to the Library of Congress. But these things did not go. The letters were in a family safe deposit box.

APPRAISER:
Well, you have two letters of Abraham Lincoln to General Halleck. One is May 1862. The other is October 1862. So, it's wartime. It's to a major general. It's talking about the war. It has great content. The letters are totally in Lincoln's hand, which is a benefit. The signature is wonderful. You were talking about reading the letters. And tell me what you got out of that.

GUEST:
Well, the first thing I was impressed with is that Lincoln is talking about promoting some officers in the army, and he's asking General Halleck to promote them, but he...

APPRAISER:
he's so almost apologetic. In one of them, he says he's foresworn doing anything about this, but now he's getting pressure from the Missouri representatives in Congress. And so, like he doesn't want to interfere with General Halleck.

APPRAISER:
I don't think this kind of politeness would happen today. (laughs):

GUEST:
I would maybe agree with you on that. (laughs)

APPRAISER:
And then, in the second letter, he brings this matter up again, but he's talking about General Rousseau and, uh, Colonel Pope, and saying, "Look, we've had tremendous losses." I mean, this is just after Shiloh. The battles are going on. And even though the war is sort of on an even keel somewhat, the Union-- their men are getting decimated.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And he literally says in one of these letters, we need to replace officers and generals...

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
...and so on. So there's great, great content. You had another item that you brought in-- a photograph of Abraham Lincoln. It's a carte de visite. The signature is fabulous. Nothing's faded. When you get to the back of it, though, an interesting item is, you have John Hay signing, saying, this is an authentic Lincoln signature. It's a Brady photograph. Well, John Hay was his secretary.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
So to have John Hay writing, saying, "Yes, this is an authentic signature," is fabulous. Lincoln photos, letters and everything-- they were really hot. They slowed down a little, and now they've gotten really hot again.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
A lot of the value depends on the quality of the photograph, the boldness of the signature, how dark it is. The letters-- one being on Executive Mansion stationery. Again, nothing is faded. The ink is black. Each of these letters is probably in the $20,000 to $25,000 range.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
Conservative retail price.

GUEST:
Wow. And that's conservative.

APPRAISER:
Now, Lincoln photographs are fairly rare. They're hard to get. Signed ones-- especially authenticated by his secretary-- $35,000, maybe $50,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my God!

APPRAISER:
For a Lincoln photograph. Again, that's retail price. So you have a total of probably $75,000 to $100,000...

GUEST:
Oh, my God. ...

APPRAISER:
of Lincoln material here.

GUEST:
That's... That's amazing.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Brattle Book Shop
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2007)
$75,000 Retail$100,000 Retail
Event
Spokane, WA (August 04, 2007)
Material
Paper

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