Plains Ledger Drawings, ca. 1880

Value (2012) | $30,800 Auction$39,200 Auction
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GUEST:
Edmund Rice was born in 1842 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Went into the Civil War when he was 18 years old as a captain, earned the Medal of Honor at Gettysburg when he was 20 years old, and then stayed in the army another 40 years, being in the Indian Wars, the Philippine Insurrection and the Spanish-American War.

APPRAISER:
So this guy was a true warrior. He was an American soldier of the highest order. He would had to have been to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. I mean, that's huge.

GUEST:
And he's buried at the Arlington National Cemetery with a three-and-a-half foot bronze Medal of Honor on his grave.

APPRAISER:
When was this picture made of him?

GUEST:
This picture was done in 1898 during the Spanish-American War when he was colonel of the Sixth Massachusetts Infantry.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, I love the picture of his hat turned up.

GUEST:
I received this when I was 12 years old, the first item I ever owned from him, and the sword. And now I have approximately 500 items that were his.

APPRAISER:
These are called ledger drawings because they were mainly drawn on the pages of ledger books that were around the forts. And he was stationed where when he did this?

GUEST:
Fort Leavenworth.

APPRAISER:
Which became Leavenworth, the prison.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And the gentleman who drew these was in prison at Leavenworth. These were done in the 1880s, and the picture nearest you, the small one, was that when he was at Leavenworth?

GUEST:
Yeah, that was when he was first at Leavenworth in 1876, I believe, and then after Custer was wiped out, he requested a field service and went chasing after the hostile Sioux and Cheyenne, then came back to Fort Leavenworth in the mid-1880s.

APPRAISER:
I suspect this man was Cheyenne, and these people were put in prison for actions against the government. Geronimo's band went to Florida, some of the Northern Plains warriors and Central Plains warriors went to Leavenworth. They were scattered in prisons around the U.S. It has written who drew them and that he was in prison at Fort Leavenworth, and then you know by your ancestor's duty roster when he served there. With some more history research and some checking around, you'd be able to find out what this man did that put him in prison there during the Plains Indian Wars. They are all warriors, all mounted on horseback, and really beautifully done.

GUEST:
Supposedly the family story that went with these was that his daughter was also stationed at Fort Leavenworth with him. She was about 17 years old, and she went in and passed her ledger book with the colored pencils under the jail cell, and he drew these for her.

APPRAISER:
You're kidding. That is fantastic. Ledger drawings are very hot right now because they're works of art in addition to being American Indian pieces. These are great examples. The only one that has any problem at all, and it's not a big problem, is the one that's torn. With the history of your ancestor, Rice, connected with all this material, and the documentation that you will be able to find out about this person, I would think in an auction, this one, which has some damage, would bring $6,000 to $8,000 for that.

GUEST:
Unbelievable.

APPRAISER:
And it would have to be fixed, but it would bring that amount of money. I think the other three would bring $8,000 to $10,000 apiece.

GUEST:
Unbelievable.

APPRAISER:
The top photograph, probably $400 to $600 at auction. The bottom one, about the same price. It's a bigger photograph, it's layered, but boy, he is looking at the camera and it shows him, you know, with the hat turned up. The history they're connected with is incredible. It is a major part of what happened in America. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

GUEST:
Thank you very much, sir.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
San Antonio, TX
Appraised value (2012)
$30,800 Auction$39,200 Auction
Event
Seattle, WA (August 18, 2012)
Period
19th Century
Form
Drawing
Material
Paper

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