Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Other Great Gifts Offerings


Other Gilded Age (1876 - c.1900) Offerings


Bartholdi Signed Note, on His Calling Card, Fundraising for the Statue of Liberty
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:

STATUE OF LIBERTY. Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi. Autograph Note Signed, on his calling card, c. 1878. With Marquis de Rochambeau, Autograph Note Signed, on his calling card, and a calling card for Count Sérurier, during fundraising effort to present Liberty Enlightening the World to the United States. 3 items. 3¾ x 2¼ in.

Inventory #24842       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Shortly after the end of the American Civil War, French abolitionist Édouard René de Laboulaye and sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi discussed the possibility of a monumental memorial to American independence and freedom. Not until June 1871 did Bartholdi travel to the United States to discuss the idea with influential Americans, including President Ulysses S. Grant. In September 1875, Laboulaye announced the formation of the Franco-American Union as a fundraising organization for the project. Although initially aimed at elites, the Franco-American Union raised funds from across French society, including schoolchildren, ordinary citizens, and 181 French municipalities. French copper industrialist Eugène Secrétan donated 64 tons of the 100 tons of copper needed for the statue.

Bartholdi constructed the right arm bearing the torch in May 1876 and exhibited it at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia from August to November 1876. When he returned to Paris in 1877, Bartholdi concentrated on completing the head, which was exhibited at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair. By the end of 1879, the Union had raised approximately 250,000 francs. After Laboulaye died in 1883, Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal succeeded him as president of the Union. Ultimately, the Franco-American Union raised 2.25 million francs (approximately $250,000) for the construction. The completed statue was presented to U.S. Ambassador to France Levi P. Morton on July 4, 1884, and de Lesseps announced that the French government had agreed to pay for its transport to New York.

The United States was to pay for the pedestal, and fundraising was hampered by the Panic of 1873 that led to a decade-long depression. Finally in early 1885, New York World publisher Joseph Pulitzer announced a drive to raise $100,000.  By mid-August 1885, 120,000 donors had raised $102,000, 80 percent in sums of less than $1. The statue arrived in New York in June 1885, but the pedestal was not completed until April 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor who vetoed an expenditure of $50,000 for the pedestal, presided over the dedication of the statue on October 28, 1886.


The Bartholdicalling card is printed “Aug.te Bartholdi

in cursive at center with his “rue Vavin, 40.” address. Bartholdi handwrote on the face of the card: “The Cte de Paris has underwritten 5000 fr.! Regards from Madame to Madame. I cordially shake your hand” and signed the note “B.”

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, where Bartholdi studied painting, sculpture, and architecture under well-known instructors like Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. The family continued to visit Colmar, often for extended visits. Bartholdi graduated from the Lycee Louis-le-Grand in Paris in 1852.  Following his service in the Franco-Prussian War on 1870, Bartholdi became increasingly 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 centennial of American independence in 1876. Also in 1871, he began work on the Lion of Belfort, commemorating the heroic French resistance against the Prussians. That sculpture of red sandstone was completed in 1880. After a decade of fundraising and work, Liberty Enlightening the World (the Statue of Liberty) was finally installed in New York harbor in 1886. Bartholdi also designed the Bartholdi Fountain in Washington, DC (1878), among other works.


The second card is printed with “Le Marquis de Rochambeau and his title as “President of the Admission and Installation Committees of Class 17 and member of the 8th Historical Section of the 1878 Universal Exposition.” The handwritten note by Rochambeau reads (translated): “Hurrah! His Highness sent his subscription to Count Serurier: 5000 f. / Five thousand fr. “

Eugene Achille Lacroix de Vimeur, Marquis de Rochambeau (1836-1897) was a well-respected French historian and archeologist. Rochambeau was an honorary member of the Franco-American Union, the group responsible for Statue of Liberty fundraising. He also served as a member of the French committee for the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia and for the 1878 World’s Fair in Paris.


The third calling card is printed “Le Comte Sérurier.

Louis Henri Charles Sérurier, Comte de Sérurier (1843-1907) was born in the Netherlands, the son of Maurice Sérurier, the third Comte de Sérurier (1818-1887). His grandfather Louis Barbe Sérurier (1775-1860) had been the French ambassador to the United States from 1811 to 1815 and again from 1831 to 1835. The fourth Comte de Sérurier was an infantry officer and an early proponent of the idea of the International Red Cross. He served as the president of the Health Congress, which grew out of the International Paris Health Exposition of 1867.

The “Cte de Paris” and “His Highness” in Bartholdi’s and Rochambeau’s notes refer to Louis Phillipe d’Orleans, Comte de Paris (1838-1894). This grandson of ousted King Louis Phillipe I lived in exile in England from 1848 to 1871. He and his younger brother served as assistant adjutants general to Major General George B. McClellan for nearly a year in the American Civil War before returning to Europe. On March 21, 1878, d’Orleans wrote to Count Sérurier: “My Dear Count, I beg that you will put my name down on your list as a subscriber to the amount of 5,000 francs. I am happy to be able to associate myself with this great national work, which will remind America of the glorious 4th of July, 1776, and will unite both nations in the bonds of the same great memory—a memory all the more precious as it has no connection with our present quarrels.” Although the Third Republic ruled France, most monarchists in 1883 recognized him as King Philippe VII of France, but he lived in exile again in England from 1886 until his death.


Condition: All three cards in near fine condition. Two cards have minor surface roughness on the verso where formerly pasted into scrapbooks; one has tiny tear to lower right corner.