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Lot #128
Dr. Martin Breckstein Presidential Collection of (41) Autographs (Washington to Clinton)

From Washington to Clinton—a remarkable collection of forty-one presidential autographs

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From Washington to Clinton—a remarkable collection of forty-one presidential autographs

Remarkable collection of 41 presidential autographs assembled by Dr. Martin D. Breckstein. The collection embodies the whole history of the United States of America from its founding through the 20th century, with autographs from Presidents George Washington through Bill Clinton. The group is comprised almost entirely of letters, many handwritten, with a few other formats mixed in.

Each piece is displayed within an oversized 11? x 17? mat below an oval engraved portrait of the subject, and held within a custom-made, impressively large leatherbound binder that measures 15? x 18? x 5?, gilt-stamped on the front with the presidential seal and title: "Autographs of the Presidents of the United States, Collected by Martin D. Breckstein." The documents are in overall very good to fine condition, with some exhibiting split folds, light toning, or minor losses; the autographs are generally very appealing examples, with Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln being especially strong and bold. The book itself exhibits some scuffing to the leather, and each inner sleeve is secured with tape along the bottom edge.

1. George Washington

ADS as president, signed "Go: Washington," one page, 6.5 x 3, September 4, 1795. Handwritten receipt for funds received from William Tilghman, related to principal and interest due from a bond passed to Washington as executor of the estate of Thomas Colvill. In full: "Received the above sum of Five hundred and fifty nine dollars and 87/100 in full."

2. John Adams

ADS, signed "John Adams," one page, 6 x 1.5, June 23, 1764. Handwritten receipt, in part: "Rec'd of Josiah Suell a Note of Hand from Levi Keith and John Porter to Israel Silvester, and forty shillings." Also initialed by Adams in the lower left, "J. A."

3. Thomas Jefferson

Third-person ALS, signed within the text, "Th: Jefferson." one page, 7.5 x 3.25, October 29, [no year]. Handwritten letter from Monticello to a Virginia postmaster, in full: "Th: Jefferson presents his respects to the Postmaster at Lynchburg, and having requested him in a note of yesterday to send by mail to this place a letter which he supposes to by lying in that office for him, he has now to pray he will send it by the bearer, being an earlier opportunity than he had expected would occur: & sends him his salutations."

4. James Madison

ALS signed "James Madison," one page, 7.5 x 4.5, no date. Handwritten letter pertaining to a debt, in full: "I have rec'd your letter informing me that you are the holder of my obligation for $1200. I find that an anticipated payment of it, not having been embraced by my pecuniary arrangements for the current year might not be convenient. Should it become so, it will be very agreeable to me to comply with the object of your communication."

5. James Monroe

LS as Secretary of War, signed "Ja's Monroe," one page both sides, 7.5 x 9.5, January 23, 1815. Letter to Daniel D. Tompkins, then the governor of New York in command of the 3rd Military District, who would go on to serve as Monroe's vice president. In part: "I have this day issued the warrant of this Department for the sum of fifty thousand dollars in your favor to be transmitted in Treasury notes. This sum being intended for the use of Matthew & Davis the contractor in New York." He further directs Tompkins to deposit the notes in a bank, and instructs him to disburse some funds to paymasters. Monroe adds a handwritten postscript: "I have been very sick but am recovering my health rapidly. In a few days, I hope to be at the office, in discharge of all its duties."

6. John Quincy Adams

ALS, signed "J. Q. Adams," one page, 7.75 x 9.5, April 20, 1835. Handwritten letter to Reverend W. B. Sprague, in part: "It would give me pleasure to contribute any assistance in my power to promote its benevolent purpose. But in making the enquiries, which it will render necessary I should be glad to be able to say whether the young Lady to whom your Letter refers, is now in this Country—what is her age, and upon what terms she would engage to assume the office, desired for her. I take for granted her qualifications for instruction, as well as her disposition to accommodate herself to the duties and privations, which her situation would require, and to which she may not have been accustomed in the prosperous conditions of her family heretofore."

7. Andrew Jackson

ALS as president, signed "Andrew Jackson," one page, 7.75 x 7.75, December 11, 1833. Handwritten letter to Judge William Wilkins, a Jacksonian Democrat then serving in the Senate. In full: "Please read the enclosed and let me have your opinion on the charges against Mr. Davis the Marshal of Western Penn'a."

8. Martin Van Buren

ALS signed "M. Van Buren," one page both sides, 4.75 x 7.25, May 24, 1855. Handwritten letter to a colonel, making dinner arrangements. In part: "Col. Earle will call on you this mo'g to get some of our friends to dine with the President…& I wish you to do me the favor to make a party of them to dine with me tomorrow at 4 o'clock."

9. William Henry Harrison

ALS signed "W. H. Harrison," one page, 7 x 6.5, March 9, 1825. Handwritten letter making a recommendation concerning compensation for an individual valuable to the government, in full: "I have no hesitation in saying that the sum of fifteen hundred dollars would not be an unreasonable allowance for any agent having the laborious duties to perform which were assigned to Mr. Johnson for the period within named. But as it regards himself knowing as I do the manner in which those duties were performed and the advantages which the Government derived from his services and which could not have been obtained by the employment of any other individual, I think the compensation rather lower than it ought to be."

10. John Tyler

ALS signed "J. Tyler," one page, 4.5 x 5.5, no date. Handwritten letter marked "Private," in part: "I thank you for the aid you kindly offer…The reporter of the Telegraph has promised to be with me and with my corrections his report can be made to do. The speech ought however to find a place in the Intelligencer at an early day—Virginia requires it and ought speedily to have it."

11. James K. Polk

ALS signed "James K. Polk," one page, 7.25 x 7, January 8, 1828. Handwritten letter to a gentleman, in part: "I have rec'd this morning the enclosed letters…concerning a small account against the Government. When you have examined and decided on the claims, advise me of it."

12. Zachary Taylor

LS signed "Z. Taylor, Lt. Col., 1st Reg't U.S. Inf'y," one page, 7.25 x 7, June 2, 1823. Letter to William Lee on a financial matter, in part: "Received of Thos. T. Tucker Esqr. Treasurer of the U. States, draft No. 5833 on the Branch of the Bank of the U. States at New Orleans for $500."

13. Millard Fillmore

ALS signed "Millard Fillmore," one page, 5 x 7.75, November 16, 1868. Handwritten letter to Reverdy Johnson, in part: "Allow me to present to you the bearer, Henry W. Rogers, Esq. of this city. Mr. & Mrs. Rogers contemplate making the tour of Europe, and I take great pleasure in stating that they are old residents of Buffalo, highly respected and esteemed and moving in the first circles of society. Mr. Rogers has long ranked as one of the most talented members of our bar, and been honored with many important public trusts, and is esteemed a man of independent fortune. Any civilities which it may be in your power to show Mr. & Mrs. Rogers, both of whom are my esteemed friends, will be gratefully received by them."

14. Franklin Pierce

ALS signed "Franklin Pierce," three pages on two adjoining sheets, 4.75 x 7.5, November 20, 1868. Handwritten letter to his sister, in part: "I think I answered your last note or caused it to be answered, but am not quite certain. Since that time the long storm and all-pervading dampness…sent me to my bed again for 7 or 8 days and it is three weeks since I have stepped over the outer threshold…I have done business to some extent with Judge Minot. When less weak I should regard it as very little. Who is to go with you to New Jersey, dear, in Dec'r? If no definite arrangement has been made and my strength is equal to it, I think the trip, with you, would do me good and I know nothing could be more pleasant."

15. James Buchanan

ALS signed "James Buchanan," one page, 7.75 x 4.5, May 18, 1836. Handwritten letter regarding a petition to the president, in part: "According to the request of the Petitioners I have handed over the President their recommendation in favor of the pardon of Samuel Salliday, accompanied by my own certificate of their respectability."

16. Abraham Lincoln

Autograph endorsement signed as president, "A. Lincoln," matted to 3 x 3.25, August 15, 1864. President Lincoln writes, in full: "The first time the Sec. of [War, struck through] Interior call here will he please mention the De Janon case?" The full letter appears to be intact behind the mat. This autograph is documented in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 7, which states that it is on the reverse of a letter by J. R. Stewart recommending the restoration of Patrice de Janon to the professorship of Spanish at West Point. De Janon had been dismissed from the position in the fall of 1863, and was reappointed in 1865.

17. Andrew Johnson

ALS signed "Andrew Johnson," one page, 3.25 x 4, December 11, 1861. Handwritten letter to a gentleman, in full: "Your note has been received and hasten to reply &c."

18. U. S. Grant

ALS signed "U. S. Grant," one page, 4.25 x 9, personal letterhead, May 18, 1884. Handwritten letter to the Sherman Publishing Co., in part: "I have to say that while the second of the two engravings was taken from a recent photograph—nearly nineteen years after the close of the rebellion—myself and my family like it the best. I have no suggestions to make however."

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

ANS signed "R. B. Hayes," one page, 5 x 4.75, February 16, 1876. Handwritten note to an autograph collector, penned below the request. In full: "Here it is."

20. James A. Garfield

ALS signed "J. A. Garfield," one page, 7.5 x 9.5, House of Representatives letterhead, July 4, 1867. Handwritten letter to pioneering mezzotint engraver John Sartain, in part: "I return your proof of my picture with two criticisms which I hope may be of use to you in completing it. The chief objection to the picture is that it looks a little too smooth. I think the face & general figure are very good. If it is not too late, I should be glad to have my signature in a little finer hand. It seems to me to cover too much space for the size of the picture, & is a little larger than I usually write. I enclose you one which I should prefer if you can put it in."

21. Chester A. Arthur

ALS signed "C. A. Arthur," three pages on two adjoining sheets, 4.5 x 6.75, law firm letterhead, December 18, 1879. Handwritten letter to Dr. C. R. Agnew, in part: "Pray pardon my seeming neglectful of your note. I was so extremely busy at the time of its receipt, that I did not answer it immediately & it was then buried under so many other things that I utterly overlooked it. If I am not too late now, I will gladly do anything I can to further your wishes."

22. Grover Cleveland

ALS signed "Grover Cleveland," one page both sides, 4.25 x 6.75, November 23, 1903. Handwritten letter to "Harry," in part: "We were glad to receive the picture you sent us and we thank you for it. I enclose a certificate which I think may be of service to you in securing recognition of your war service. It is inconvenient to put the matter into the form of an affidavit, though of course there is no objection to my doing so."

23. Benjamin Harrison

ALS signed "Benj. Harrison," one page, 4 x 6, personal letterhead, December 27, 1893. Handwritten letter to a gentleman, sending thanks for information on his ancestry.

24. William McKinley

ALS signed "Wm. McKinley," one page, 5 x 7, House of Representatives letterhead, September 16, 1887. Handwritten letter to Thomas Thomas, sending congratulations and noting: "Am glad my address at Fulton was well rec'd." Includes the original mailing envelope, addressed in McKinley's hand.

25. Theodore Roosevelt

TLS as president, signed "Theodore Roosevelt," one page, 6.75 x 6, White House letterhead, May 31, 1902. Letter to Major George Leroy Brown, in full: "I am very much obliged to you for writing me. It is a pleasure to hear from you at any and all times, and I am greatly pleased at the manly tone of your letter." He adds a handwritten line at the conclusion: "You need never fear my misunderstanding you."

26. William H. Taft

ALS signed "Wm. H. Taft," one page, 4.5 x 7, personal letterhead, January 6, 1914. Handwritten letter to Thomas G. Brown at Columbia University, in full: "I am very glad to send you an autograph note to thank you for the pleasant words of your letter."

27. Woodrow Wilson

TLS as president, signed "Woodrow Wilson," one page, 6.75 x 7.75, White House letterhead, July 3, 1916. Letter to the Hon. S. S. Gregory, in full: "I thank you most unaffectedly for your very kind letter of the first of July. It gratifies me to find that my remarks met with such a generous response."

28. Warren G. Harding

TLS as president, signed "Warren G. Harding," one page, 6.75 x 8.5, White House letterhead, December 27, 1921. Letter to Mrs. Harry S. New, in part: "Thank you so much for the Christmas box of Turkish Delights. It was just like you, knowing my fondness for them, to send me such a Christmas remembrance. I do appreciate it very, very much." Includes the original White House mailing envelope.

29. Calvin Coolidge

TLS as president, signed "Calvin Coolidge," one page, 6.75 x 8.75. black-bordered White House letterhead, August 21, 1923. Letter to P. L. Bedell, sent just 19 days after taking office following the death of President Harding. In part: "I appreciate sincerely the message which you send me, and your assurances of friendship and confidence are a very real help. I am only sorry that the demands upon me compel but a brief acknowledgment." He adds a handwritten postscript: "I went by your old home several times in July. C.C." Includes the original White House mailing envelope.

30. Herbert Hoover

TLS as president, signed "Herbert Hoover," one page, 6.75 x 7.5, White House letterhead, December 17, 1931. Letter to Senator Robert J. Bulkley, in full: "Thank you for your letter of December 16th in the interest of Judge Florence Allen. I am glad to know of your high opinions of her ability and qualifications."

31. Franklin D. Roosevelt

TLS as president, signed "Franklin D. Roosevelt," one page, 6.75 x 8.5, White House letterhead, January 8, 1941. Letter to friend and philanthropic partner Basil O'Connor, in full: "Thank you for yours of January sixth with check for $1,853.27, representing income received by my Trust during the year 1940. I have endorsed the check to your order as Trustee for you to deposit in the Trust." Includes the original White House mailing envelope.

32. Harry S. Truman

TLS as president, signed "Harry S. Truman," one page, 6.75 x 8, White House letterhead, November 12, 1948. Letter to Major Frank G. Hoffman, in full: "Thank you ever so much for your fine message. Your congratulations are particularly pleasing to me, and I want to assure you of my gratitude." Includes the original White House mailing envelope.

33. Dwight D. Eisenhower

TLS as president, signed "Dwight D. Eisenhower," one page, 5.5 x 8.5, White House letterhead, December 13, 1956. Letter to Harold R. Downs, mayor of Odessa, Texas, in part: "I am highly complimented by the invitation you have extended to me, on behalf of The League of Texas Municipalities, to address your meeting to be held in San Antonio next October first. It is completely impossible for me to make any engagements such a long period in advance, as you realize. If it would not inconvenience you to wait a matter of months before making your final arrangements, I promise to give your suggestion my earnest consideration; otherwise, my answer has to be in the negative." Includes the original White House mailing envelope.

34. John F. Kennedy

Desirable fountain pen signature, "To Harriet Fowler, with every good wish, John Kennedy, Mass., (Through the courtesy of her father)," on the reverse of a color 5 x 3.5 postcard depicting the United States Capitol. Dated July 2, 1959, in another hand.

35. Lyndon B. Johnson

Large fountain pen signature and inscription, "To Grover Sellers, with my gratitude and admiration, Lyndon B. Johnson," on an off-white 5 x 7.75 sheet.

36. Richard Nixon

TLS as president, signed "Richard Nixon," one page, 6.5 x 8.5, White House letterhead, September 13, 1973. Letter to Congressman Robert Bauman, in full: "I want to take this opportunity to express my warm appreciation for your assistance yesterday in sustaining my veto of the Emergency Medical Services Bill. Your action clearly demonstrates the type of restraint that is needed by the Congress to assist us in holding the line on spending. Due to the heavy lobbying activity on this bill, I know that your vote required a great deal of courage. Your action deserves the thanks of all Americans." Includes the original White House mailing envelope.

37. Gerald R. Ford

TLS as president, signed "Jerry Ford," one page, 6.25 x 8.5, White House letterhead, May 27, 1976. Letter to Howard H. Baker, Jr., in part: "The favorable outcome of the Tennessee Primary was a major step toward ensuring my nomination. This victory, in large part, was attributable directly to your commitment to my candidacy. You were magnificent, not only in your strong expression of support, but also in the enthusiasm you activated in your workers on my behalf. You added the essential ingredients upon which they built." He adds a brief postscript, signed "J.," in full: "P.S. You were super."

38. Jimmy Carter

Ballpoint signature and inscription, "To David, Jimmy Carter," on a 3.25 x 2 NBC News correspondent's business card.

39. Ronald Reagan

ALS signed "Ronald," one page, 7.25 x 9, personal letterhead, December 15, 1976. Handwritten letter to Sam and Bertha Sisco, in part: "First of all Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and Buzzy. A new John Wayne photo (both eyes open) is on its way if it hasn't reached you already. Nancy & I are praying 'Nielson West' will give you the opportunity you deserve. I persuaded a photographer to take some pictures of the beautiful gifts you've made for us and to send them to the Cowboy hall of fame in Okla. He was covering an interview for their magazine 'Persimmon Hill.'" Includes the original mailing envelope, addressed in Reagan's hand.

40. George Bush

ALS signed "George Bush," one page on a 5.25 x 4 personal stationery card, November 20, 2000. Handwritten letter to "Russell," in full: "I hope this finds you on the road to recovery. I can't accept your coin but thanks for the thought."

41. Bill Clinton

TLS as president, signed "Bill Clinton," one page, 6.25 x 8.5, White House letterhead, November 29, 1994. Letter to Congressman Bud Shuster, in part : "Thank you for your support of the GATT implementing legislation. By actively pursuing global trade policies, we will produce economic growth and job creation for our country. You can be confident knowing that your efforts have contributed to strengthening our nation and preparing our economy for the global markets of the 21st century. Thank you again for your bipartisan support of this legislation."

Read more about Dr. Martin Breckstein.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Revolutionary War
  • Dates: #670 - Ended July 12, 2023