Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Other Great Gifts Offerings


Other Gilded Age (1876 - c.1900) Offerings


Other Science, Technology, and Transportation Offerings


Bartholdi Plans for Statue of Liberty Right Arm and Torch Exhibit at 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:

Complete Translation

Dear Mademoiselle,

It will give me great pleasure to see my work figured in the respected publication of Mr. Harper. I am thinking of returning to New York on Monday and I will have the pleasure of bringing you, in person, the block and the notes that you asked for.

Would you be so kind to thank Mr. Harper for <2> his appreciation of my work and yourself accept the expression of my most devoted feelings of friendship.


Philadelphia 8 June 1876

FREDERIC-AUGUSTE BARTHOLDI. Autograph Letter Signed, in French, recipient unknown, June 8, 1876, Philadelphia. On “International Expositions, Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, Superior Commission of International Expositions, General Station, Hotel de Cluny, Rue du Sommerard, Paris” letterhead. 2 pp., 5⅛ x 8⅛ in.

Inventory #24887       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Historical Background

Shortly after the end of the American Civil War, French abolitionist Édouard René de Laboulaye suggested to sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi the creation of a monumental memorial to American independence and freedom. In 1871, Bartholdi traveled to the United States to sell the idea to President Ulysses S. Grant and other influential Americans.

In May of 1876, Bartholdi constructed the right arm bearing the torch, realizing it could stand alone if financing for the entire project failed. The torch’s display at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia from August to November 1876 was a definite highlight with the fair’s approximately ten million visitors. Many scaled the 42-foot tall display for a fee of 50 cents.

Bartholdi returned to Paris in 1877, and concentrated on completing the head, which was exhibited at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair. Although fundraising in France initially aimed at elites, contributions were received from every part of society, including schoolchildren, citizens, and 181 municipalities, while French industrialist Eugène Secrétan donated 64 of the 100 tons of copper needed for the statue. After Laboulaye died, Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal, succeeded him as president of the Franco American Union, which ultimately raised 2.25 million francs (approximately $250,000), primarily from the sale of miniatures. The statue was presented in France to U.S. Ambassador Levi P. Morton on July 4, 1884, and de Lesseps announced that the French government had also agreed to pay for its transport. 

Harper’s Weekly published an image of the projected statue in November of 1875. In 1885, Bartholdi included a note in The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World Described by the Sculptor, Published for the Benefit of the Pedestal Fund (New York: North American Review, 1885), thanking Harper and Brothers and others “for their kindness in contributing many of the wood cuts with which this little work is illustrated.”

The statue arrived in New York in June 1885, but the pedestal was not completed until April of 1886. President Grover Cleveland, who as New York governor had vetoed a $50,000 expenditure for the pedestal, presided over the dedication on October 28, 1886.

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) was born in Colmar, France, to a family of Italian and German Protestant heritage.  After his father died when Bartholdi was two years old, his family moved to Paris. He studied painting, sculpture, and architecture, and graduated from the Lycee Louis-le-Grand in 1852.  Following his service in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, Bartholdi became interested in sculpting monumental works celebrating resistance against oppression, and Enlightenment ideals like Freedom. In his first visit to the United States in 1871, he promoted the idea of the gift of a massive statute from France to the United States in honor of the upcoming centennial of American independence. The Bartholdi Fountain was completed in Washington, DC in 1878, and his sculpture in red sandstone, the Lion of Belfort, commemorating the heroic French resistance against the Prussians, was completed in 1880. The Statue of Liberty was installed in New York harbor in 1886.

Complete Trancription

Chère Mademoiselle

J’aurai grand plaisir à voir figurer mon œuvre dans la publication si considérée de M. Harper. Je pense revenir à New York Lundi et j’aurai le plaisir de vous apporter moi-même le bloc et les notes que vous me demandez.

Veuillez remercier, je vous prie, M. Harper des<2> sympathies qu’il témoigne à mes œuvres et agréer personnellement l’expression de mes sentiments d’amitié les plus dévoués

                                                                        F Bartholdi

Philadelphie 8 Juin 1876

Condition: Fine. Isolated smudges and light handling stains on first page do not affect the text. A small gutter tear, hole, and stain are on blank third and fourth pages.