Lot #339
Sanitary Fair Collection

Supporting Union soldiers in an extensive collection of over 300 autographs, photos, and ephemera
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Supporting Union soldiers in an extensive collection of over 300 autographs, photos, and ephemera

The United States Sanitary Commission was a relief agency designed to support sick and wounded soldiers during the Civil War, created in 1861 in response to the unsanitary and poor living conditions of Union soldiers—the close quarters, general filth, and poor diets of the enlisted men led to epidemics of disease for which the Army was unprepared. The commission organized massive groups of volunteers and acquired charitable contributions to improve conditions and offer care for soldiers in the field and in military hospitals. In 1863, it began to hold fairs, which became wildly successful fundraising events and allowed individual citizens to demonstrate support for the troops, encouraging a broad feeling of unity and national identity throughout the country.

Enormous collection of documents, letters, photos, and ephemera related to the Civil War–era Sanitary Fairs, primarily those in Illinois and Philadelphia in 1864. The group consists of over 320 pieces, over 150 of which are signed. Organizers for fairs in both locations contacted prominent individuals in all fields—primarily focused on political and military figures—and requested autographed material and mementos for fundraising purposes. These signed items include many autograph request documents, as well as assorted letters, documents, and individual signatures. In overall fine condition.

Over 80 of the signed items are autograph request documents issued by the Western Illinois Sanitary Fair Committee, like those seen throughout this section. Signers include: Nathaniel P. Banks, Schuyler Colfax, David G. Farragut, Hannibal Hamlin, John Pope, William S. Rosecrans, Carl Schurz, William Seward, Charles Sumner, Bayard Taylor, John A. Dix, Horace Greeley, Gideon Welles, John Schofield, O. O. Howard, John A. Logan, George S. Boutwell, Horatio Seymour, Daniel E. Sickles, Henry W. Slocum, and Gouverneur K. Warren.

Letters, most of which are ALSs, include Winfield Scott Hancock, Schuyler Colfax, Jared Sparks, John J. Peck, Robert Charles Winthrop, Dorothea Dix, and many of the organizers, such as Henry Whitney Bellows and Ellen McLellan. Some individual signatures include Benjamin F. Butler, David Dixon Porter, Owen Lovejoy, and John L. Worden. The majority of these were sent to organizers of the Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia, either complying with an autograph request or wishing them luck with their fair.

Also includes approximately 115 unsigned carte-de-visite photos of exhibitions at the Sanitary Fairs or of the various autograph signers, as well as 15 stereoview photos of the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia and Metropolitan Fair in New York. Other pieces of ephemera include approximately 40 bulletins, tickets, announcements, receipts, documents, and mailing envelopes related to various Fairs.

All together, this is a remarkably comprehensive collection that demonstrates the widespread and fervent support of the Sanitary Commission's efforts. In addition to the autographic material from political and military notables, the letters, documents, and photographs offer great insight into the the inner workings of these fairs and the complexity involved in orchestrating such large events. Impressively large and broad in scope, this is a one-of-a-kind collection that celebrates the often overlooked contributions of the Sanitary Commission to the Union war effort.

Signers of the Western Illinois Sanitary Fair documents are (the above included): Isaac W. Arnold, Nathaniel P. Banks, David B. Birney, Austin Blair, George S. Boutwell, Augustus Bradford, Thomas E. Bramlette, Benjamin Gratz Brown, William Gannaway Brownlow, William Alfred Buckingham, George Cadwalader, Edward Canby, William Cannon, Thomas Carney, Zachariah Chandler, E. M. Chapin, George B. Cheever, John Cochrane, Schuyler Colfax, Samuel Cony, Edgar Cowan, George W. Curtis, Theodore L. Cuyler, Edward Loomis Davenport, Daniel S. Dickinson, John A. Dix, Samuel Francis Du Pont, David G. Farragut, Solomon Foot, John G. Foster, William B. Franklin, Gordon Granger, Horace Greeley, Benjamin Henry Grierson, James W. Grimes, Michael Hahn, Gail Hamilton, Hannibal Hamlin, Ira Harris, Samuel P. Heintzelman, Ethan A. Hitchcock, O. O. Howard, Stephen A. Hurlbut, Reverdy Johnson, Henry Smith Lane, James T. Lewis, D. C. Littlejohn, John A. Logan, John Alexander McClernand, John McCloskey, Stephen Miller, E. D. Morgan, Justin Smith Morrill, L. M. Morrill, Richard J. Oglesby, E. D. Palmer, Joel Parker, Francis Harrison Pierpont, John Pope, George D. Prentice, Alexander Ramsey, Henry Jarvis Raymond, Don Matias Romero, William S. Rosecrans, John Schofield, Carl Schurz, William Seward, Horatio Seymour, William Shubrick, Daniel E. Sickles, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, Henry Warner Slocum, William Farrar Smith, William Sprague, William M. Stone, Alfred B. Street, Charles Sumner, Bayard Taylor, Lyman Trumbull, John Palmer Usher, John Van Buren, B. F. Wade, Gouverneur K. Warren, Elihu B. Washburne, Gideon Welles, John Wentworth, Charles Wilkes, and Robert Charles Winthrop.

Signers of assorted letters, documents, and individual signatures are (the above included): John A. Andrews, Alexander Dallas Bache, Henry Whitney Bellows (4), Harrison G. Blake (2), William T. Blodgett, John M. Botts, Benjamin F. Butler, E. M. Chapin, George B. Cheever, Schuyler Colfax, The Count Joannes, Drake DeKay, Dorothea Dix, Duke of Newcastle, Gustavus Fox, Wolcott Gibbs, Joseph A. Gilmore, Charles Smith Hamilton, Winfield Scott Hancock, James Allen Hardie, Thomas R. Hayes, John H. Hopkins, Franklin Benjamin Hough, William A. Hovey, Thomas Hughes, J. R. Ingersoll, John C. Jacobi, John Jay, William D. Kelley, Thomas Starr King, Frederick N. Knapp, R. M. Lewis, Mary G. Loring, Owen Lovejoy, F. F. Low, R. Shelton MacKenzie, Ellen McClellan, Theodore Metcalf, James E. Murdoch, John Ordronaux, Godlove Stein Orth, John J. Peck, David Dixon Porter, Alonzo Potter, Alexander Hamilton Rice, S. D. Richardson, Gerrit Smith (2), J. Gregory Smith, Jared Sparks (2), Charles Stewart, Joseph P. Thompson, George Francis Train, William Holme Van Buren, James Moore Wayne, Henry Wilson, Dr. G. Winslow, Robert Charles Winthrop (3), John L. Worden, and Richard Yates. RR Auction COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Rare Manuscript, Document & Autograph
  • Dates: May 24 - June 19