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President Lincoln & His Most Profitable Client, the Illinois Central Railroad

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Letter Signed “A. Lincoln” as President, to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, May 23, 1863. “Executive Mansion, Washington” stationery, 2 pp. on one sheet, 7¾ x 9¾ in. With front panel of original envelope, to which Lincoln has added an Autograph Note Signed, and Stanton has also added an Autograph Note Signed.


Less than six years after he successfully sued the Illinois Central for legal fees, President Lincoln faces another problem with the railroad, now vital for the transportation of Union troops. In another dispute over payments, he tells his Secretary of War, “If I had the leisure which I have not, I believe I could settle it; but prima facie it appears to me we better settle the account ourselves...”

Item #22131, $60,000

Thomas Paine: Who Suggested that America should have a Monarch?

THOMAS PAINE, Autograph Letter Signed, to Elisha Babcock. New Rochelle, N.Y., July 2, 1805. 1 p., 8 x 10 in., with address leaf.


Paine asks a newspaper publisher for the source of a report, that Great Britain had circulated a proposal “among the most influential federalists” recommending that the Duke of Clarence be made the King of America. This letter, attacking the Federalists generally and American monarchists specifically, is completely in line with a campaign he waged in his waning years against any in the United States who might yearn for a constriction of democracy and a resumption of monarchic rule in America. Thomas Paine returned to the United States in 1802, after living most of the previous fifteen years abroad. Shortly after his arrival in the United States he was hosted by Jefferson at the White House, and quickly became the target of Federalist attacks. Paine answered those attacks in published articles and in private letters – the present letter is one of those responses. He also asks why his letter (dated June 8) was not printed in the paper.

Item #21490.99, $60,000

Theodore Roosevelt Advocates American Entry into World War I and Revisits His Foreign Policy Maxim:
“Speak softly and Carry a big stick”

THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Printed Document with Autograph Endorsement Signed and 42 corrections in Roosevelt’s hand. “Address Delivered to the Illinois State Bar Association.” Chicago, Ill., April 29, 1916. With Roosevelt’s note at the top of the first page: “Dear Mr. McCh’ny [MacChesney?], Here is the speech, with a few merely verbal corrections, sincerely, Theodore Roosevelt.” 8 pp., 7 x 24 in. (the last page is 7 x 8 in.).


The complete text of an address by Theodore Roosevelt at a dinner given in his honor at the Hotel La Salle, Chicago, by the Illinois Bar Association on April 29, 1916. These proof sheets were sent to TR for his approval, and returned with 42 autograph corrections in pencil.

“I once used the phrase, to sum up our proper foreign policy:— ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’  There was a good deal of laughter over that phrase. But it expresses a pretty sound policy all the same. Remember, that I was President seven years and a half and that I never spoke with wanton harshness of any nation. I always spoke softly, I was always just as nice and polite as any man could be. But I carried a big stick!”

Evoking applause and laughter, Roosevelt also references the need for national preparedness considering the world situation, referencing Pancho Villa and Mexico, Germany and the war in Europe, the sinking of the “Lusitania,” and the need for national unity, paraphrasing Lincoln, “nowadays America can not endure half hyphenated and half not.”

Item #24383, $55,000

George Washington on the Impending Execution of Charles Asgill: “The Enemy ought to have learnt before this, that my Resolutions are not to be trifled with.”

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782. 3 pp., with free frank signed on address panel on verso of 3rd page. 9 x 14 in. Offered with discount issue of The Columbian Magazine, January, 1787, printing an excerpt of this letter relating to the Asgill Affair, and supporting documents.


In the summer of 1782, following America’s victory at Yorktown the previous September, peace negotiations were just getting underway in Paris between the United States and Britain. With their outcome uncertain, desperate Loyalists here sought to strengthen the British hold on New York, undermine America’s vulnerable financial system, and exact revenge for their own losses. Spies were everywhere.

In this powerful letter about two major cases, Washington supports civilian authority, shows frustration over his troops’ handling of captured spies – especially a delay in following a habeas corpus ruling – and expresses steely anger over the British response to the pending execution of young Charles Asgill in retaliation for the murder of American captain Joshua Huddy.

Item #23811, $52,500

William Penn’s Copy of Privy Council Decision:
Delaware Belongs to Him, not to Lord Baltimore

WILLIAM PENN, Autograph Docket on Manuscript Document. [London, England], January 27, 1709 (document reads “1708,” but is actually 1709, because, before 1752, Britain and its colonies held to the old Julian calendar with March 25 as the first day of the calendar year). 2 pp., 7⅝ x 12 in.


“Upon reading this day at the Board the Humble petition of Wm. Penn Esqr … Her Maty. in Councill taking the same into her consideration is Graciously pleased, to ordr accordingly, that the sd petition of the Lord Baltimore, Be, and it is hereby Dismissed”

Item #21622, $50,000

One of Einstein’s Best Metaphysical Letters - Counseling His Son on the Meaning of Life and Youth and the Relative Value of Intellectual Creations

ALBERT EINSTEIN, Autograph Letter Signed (“Papa”), in German, to his son Eduard (“Tete” for “petit”). [December 27, 1932]. 2 pp, 8½ x 11 in.


“All my life I have troubled myself with problems and am always – as on the first day – inspired by the fact that cognition in the scientific and artistic sense is the best thing we possess… If one hears the angels singing a couple of times during one’s life, one can give the world something and one is a particularly fortunate and blessed individual.”

Item #23789, $48,000

Andrew Johnson puts his seal on North Carolina and Florida’s ratification of the 14th Amendment (Equal Protection).

ANDREW JOHNSON, Document Signed as President. July 11, 1868. Ordering Secretary of State to Affix the Seal of the United States to Johnson’s Proclamation announcing ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment by North Carolina and Florida. 1 p.


Item #24686, $48,000

John Adams Repeats Good Battle News Including Capture of 55 British Ships, but Warns Not to Expect Peace: “The Heads of a King and Ministers is at Stake...”

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed, to William Churchill Houston. Amsterdam, Netherlands, September 17, 1780. 2 pp., with integral blank with recipient’s docket, 7½ x 9 in.


“You will not mistake this for a Promise or an Hope of Peace. This cannot be. The Heads of a King and Ministers is at Stake ... the Capture of 55 ships at once by the combined Fleets of France and Spain … have cast down the English Cause to such a degree, as to put them upon the compassionate List, even with some who detest their Tyranny.” 

On the same day that John Adams received news that his fundraising mission to the Netherlands had been approved by Congress, he received more qualified news from William Churchill Houston, a member of Congress from New Jersey. Houston’s letter, sent from Philadelphia on July 11, 1780, informed Adams of Charleston’s occupation by the British, but also of a reawakening of patriotic spirit “that is fast pervading the whole Comunity, a Spirit which enlivens and encreases every Day.”[1] On September 17, Adams responded to Houston in the letter offered here, and presented him with the more immediate news of military victory.

Item #23797, $46,500

Calling Deputy Governor Markham to Run the Dividing Line Between Pennsylvania and Maryland

JAMES SANDELANDS AND ROBERT WADE, Manuscript Document Signed. To William Markham. “Upland” [Chester, Pa.]. June 12, 1682. 1 page. Offered with Inventory# 21752, described below.


“… there are ffour Comissionrs who by the order & command of ye said Lord [Baltimore], have beene & are waiting … ever since ye tenth day instant, for ye Running ye Division Lyne…”

Sandelands and Wade, two members of Pennsylvania’s first Provincial Council, alert Deputy Governor Markham of the arrival of Lord Baltimore’s commissioners to Augustine Hermann’s estate, near the disputed border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Baltimore’s commissioners sought to locate the 40th degree of latitude, the dividing line established by King Charles I’s original charter for Maryland. Markham did not come, choosing to wait for Penn’s arrival, most likely because he knew that an accurate measurement of the 40˚ line would deprive Pennsylvania of an outlet on the Chesapeake, and perhaps cause them to lose Philadelphia.

Item #21621; 21752, $45,000

Five Presidential Commissions for Long-Serving American Military Officer, Engineer Joseph G. Totten

JOSEPH G. TOTTEN, Partially Printed Documents Signed as President, to Joseph G. Totten. Washington, D.C. On vellum. 1 p.


An unparalleled offering of presidential commissions—from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln—covering the most significant career advances of Joseph G. Totten, Chief Engineer of the U.S. Army.

General Winfield “Old Fuss and Feathers” Scott served 53 years, and 20th century generals such as Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, and John Vessey all served fewer than 50 years each. Few men served longer or more substantially than Totten, though Revolutionary War veteran John Walbach and Hyman Rickover, the “Father of the Nuclear Navy” served longer, at 57 and 63 years, respectively.

This set of commissions, from an officer who served so long and contributed so much to American military preparedness in the run-up to the Civil War, is indeed a rare find.

Item #23097, $45,000

Thomas Paine’s Day Job While Writing Common Sense: Editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine

[THOMAS PAINE], Bound Volume. Pennsylvania Magazine; or American Monthly Museum. Volume 1. January-December 1775. Philadelphia, Pa., R. Aitken, 1775. 5 x 8¼ in.


Item #23101, $45,000

The Acting Governor of New York
Thanks William Penn for a Gift

ANTHONY BROCKHOLLS, Autograph Letter Signed to Governor William Penn. New York, May 1, 1683


“As the loadstone attracts Iron, so ought acknowledgemts to pursue faviours … [I] dare not presume any further having soe lately recd soe great a marke of your bounty….”

Deputy Governor Anthony Brockholls of New York extends a cordial note to Governor William Penn in the midst of continuing deliberations between Penn and Lord Baltimore over the southern boundary of Pennsylvania and possession of Delaware.

Item #21618, $40,000

The First Published Book by an African-American Woman

PHILLIS WHEATLEY, Book. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. First edition, with the advertisement on the final page reading “Lately published in 2 vols. Twelves...” and engraved frontispiece portrait after Scipio Morehead (second state). London: Archibald Bell, 1773, for Cox and Berry, Boston. 128 pp., 4⅜ x 6¾ in. Modern half brown leather, marbled sides.


“Celestial muse, my arduous flight sustain
And raise my mind to a seraphic strain!”

—from Wheatley’s“Thoughts on the Works of Providence”


Peter Stuyvesant Confirms a Manhattan Land Grant Only Three Months Before Handing Over “Niew Amsterdam” to the British

PETER STUYVESANT, Manuscript Document Signed. Land Grant to Daniel Terneur, [New York, N.Y.], May 16, 1664. 1 p., 16½ x 13 in. Archivally framed to 26¼ x 26 in. Countersigned by Carel Van Brugge. With paper seal.


Stuyvesant grants land to Daniel Perneur on the “island of Manhattans about the Town of new Harlem... Lying against the Land of Jochim Pieterse... also three parcels at Van Ceulen’s Hoeck.”  In turn, Terneur agreed to pay his taxes and otherwise “obey their Patrons as good inhabitants are in duty bound to do.”

With an embossed beaver seal (the symbol of the New Netherland) affixed, Stuyvesant confirms the grant of a plot of land to Daniel Terneur.

Three months later, on September 8, 1664, the inhabitants of New Amsterdam chose British rule when they refused to defend the colony ruled by their draconian Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant. He was forced to surrender the city to the British forces.

Item #23809, $38,000

George Washington, Outraged over Continued Native American and Loyalist Attacks on the New York Frontier, Wishes “to chastise the insolence of the enemy in any future incursion,” But Cannot Provide Much Direct Aid

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed as Commander in Chief, to Governor George Clinton. Newburgh, N.Y., July 30, 1782. 4 pp., 7 x 11¾ in.


“I have learnt with great concern the repeated depredations that have been committed on your Western frontier … notwithstanding the order … for the buildings necessary at the posts on the Mohawk, I fear he will not have it in his power to do it for want of money.”

Between victory at Yorktown and recognition of American independence, British forces, Loyalists, and native tribes all continued raids on American outposts and settlers, especially on the New York frontier. Washington had to maintain the army’s strength in order to force favorable negotiations, but here defers to the local governor. Fortunately for both General and Governor, Colonel Marinus Willett was one of the Revolution’s most capable leaders with decades of familiarity with Western New York’s peoples, places, and potential problems.

Item #24418, $35,000

John Adams Supporting Neutrality

JOHN ADAMS, Letter Signed to George Alexander Otis. Amsterdam, “Montezillo,” April 22, 1820. 2 pp.


“this country is as deeply interested in the investigation of the present state of society in Europe, as any nation of Europe is, and the general aphorism to be deduced … is, that perpetual neutrality in all the wars of Europe, a total abstraction from all their quarrels, is not only a moral and religious duty but their highest and soundest political interest.... Peace and friendship with all, perplexing political alliances with none, has been one of my fundamental maxims...”

John Adams effusively thanks George Alexander Otis for a translation of Archbishop de Pradt’s Europe after the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1820). The Congress brought defeated France back into the community of European nations and helped create a stability that would last for nearly a century, until World War I.

Item #23798, $35,000

John Brown cashes $50 to check slavery in Kansas

JOHN BROWN, Endorsement Signature on verso of Syracuse City Bank check filled out and signed by GERRIT SMITH to “Pay Captain John Brown of Kansas or bearer, fifty Dollars.” May 16, 1857, 2 pp. 7.6 x 2.6 in.


Item #24777.99, $35,000

Jefferson’s Autograph Notes Explaining Napier’s Rule on Spherical Triangles, a Branch of Geometry Crucial to Astronomy, Geodesy, Navigation, & Architecture

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph Manuscript. Notes on Napier’s Theorem. [Monticello, Va.], [ca. March 18, 1814].


John Napier, who is also credited with inventing logarithms and pioneering the use of the decimal point, first published his rule in 1614. While spherical trigonometry was the foundation for many scientific pursuits including astronomy, celestial navigation, geodesy (the measurement and mathematical representation of the Earth), architecture, and other disciplines, Napier’s Theorum remained largely unknown in America because of its complexity. Since it was so important to his own scholarly pursuits, Jefferson, the Sage of Monticello, was the perfect person to school a professor friend on this important, but complicated mathematical formula.

For instance, a navigator’s distance and position can be determined by “solving” spherical triangles with latitude and longitude lines—essentially very large triangles laid out on a curved surface. Astronomers apply similar principles; stargazers imagine the sky to be a vast dome of stars, with triangles laid out on curved (in this case concave) surface. The distance of stars can be calculated by the viewer, who is considered to be standing at the center (the Earth) and looking up at stars and planets as if they were hung on the inside surface of the sphere. In architecture, spherical triangles fill the corner spaces between a dome that sits on foursquare arches—called a dome on pendentives.

Item #23358, $35,000

Rare Paul Revere-Signed “Rising States Lodge” Masonic Certificate

PAUL REVERE, Printed Document Signed. Boston, Mass., September 3, 1800. 1 p., Countersigned by John Bray, Enoch Baldwin and Joseph Clark (secretary). On vellum, with original red silk ribbon attached. 16 x 13, 31½ x 21½ in.


Revolutionary Boston hero Paul Revere was a founding member of the Rising States Lodge of Massachusetts Freemasons. This Masonic initiation certificate for the Lodge, elaborately engraved by B. Hurd, (“Brother B. Hurd del.”), depicts an elaborate arched pediment supported by two columns, large Masonic symbols (crossed keys, sun, moon and stars with comet, crossed quills) and, in the center portion, an open coffin, drafting implements and two candleholders resting on a large altar. To the side are cherubs on pedestals, one holding an open book, the other a mallet.

Item #23700, $30,000

John Hancock Writes His Brother with Seasons Greetings, Inquiring of Family News, and Asking About the Family Slaves

JOHN HANCOCK, Autograph Letter Signed, to Ebenezer Hancock. London, England December 27, 1760. 8½ x 7 in., with remnants of a black wax seal.


Writing from London while attending his uncle’s business, a young John Hancock asks about his uncle and aunts, congratulates his sister’s marriage, talks about his own ill health and recovery, and inquires about the house slaves at the Hancock Mansion.

Item #23234, $29,000
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