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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.

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“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

President Johnson on Ratification of 14th Amendment by North Carolina and Florida:
Guaranteeing Equal Protection Under the Law

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.

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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.

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“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.

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“… 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.

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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.

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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

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“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.

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

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

Item #23638, PRICE ON REQUEST

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.

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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.

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“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 Calls American Neutrality from European Wars “a Moral and Religious Duty”

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

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“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

With the British Headed His Way, John Hancock Implores the States to Send Supplies and Troops to the Flagging War Effort

JOHN HANCOCK, Manuscript Document Signed (“John Hancock”) as President of the Continental Congress, 2 pages, 8 x 12½ in., “In Congress” [Philadelphia], November 19 & 21, 1776.

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“Congress deem it necessary upon every principle of propriety to remind the several States how indispensible it is to the Common Safety that they pursue the most immediate & vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of troops for the new Army…”

Washington’s defeat at the Battle of Long Island at the end of August 1776 resulted in the British occupying New York City less than three weeks later. The news for the Americans only got worse, as they had to retreat from White Plains on October 28, and Hessian mercenaries captured Fort Washington, in northern Manhattan on November 16.

With the Redcoats in hot pursuit, the Continental Army retreated across New Jersey throughout December, eventually crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania for safety. Washington had split his troops (the other group commanded by General Charles Lee) in hopes of taking a stand before Philadelphia. With Washington’s command in jeopardy and the British headed towards the seat of Congress, Hancock stresses the urgent need for troops and supplies.

Item #23790, $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].

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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

Abraham Lincoln’s First Step to Passing the Bar:
Certifying that He was “a Man of Good Moral Character”

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Book. Minute book of the Sangamon County Circuit Court. Springfield, Ill., July 6, 1835 to July 7, 1838. 315 manuscript pages in the hand of Court Clerk William Butler, 7½ x 12¼ in.

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A day-to-day accounting of the cases before the Sangamon County Circuit Court, this manuscript minute book offers insight into Abraham Lincoln’s legal world. He is mentioned by name in two entries, and although not named, many of his other cases can be cross-referenced. The most important entry came on March 24, 1836, when he took the first step in formal legal certification:

“Ordered that it be certified as to all whom it may concern that Abraham Lincoln is a man of good moral character.”

Item #23644, $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.

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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.

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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

Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House,
Lee Escapes Again

ROBERT E. LEE, Autograph Letter Signed, to William N. Pendleton [Chief of Artillery]. [Virginia], September 13, 1863. 8 x 5 in., 1 p.

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This decisive field order enabled Robert E. Lee to elude Union General George Meade, just as he had done in July after the Battle of Gettysburg. “…go with the Artl [Artillery] tomorrow and at daylight towards the Rapidan river & see to its being placed in position to defend the fords”

Item #21553.01, $28,500

President Washington Unique Signed Appointment of First Surveyor General

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Manuscript Document Signed as President. Appointing Simeon De Witt Surveyor General of the United States. Philadelphia, Pa., May 30, 1796. 1 p., 14 x 10½ in. With wax seal of the United States.

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Simeon De Witt, scion of the famous Dutch New York political family, served as a surveyor in the Continental Army and Surveyor General of the State of New York from 1784 until his death in 1834. In 1796, Washington, himself an experienced surveyor, tapped De Witt to be the first U.S. Surveyor general under the Public Lands Act of 1796. Congress created the position to organize the Northwest Territory of the Ohio Valley and sell the land. Remarkably, though, De Witt declined Washington’s offer, and instead Brigadier General Rufus Putnam took the job.

Item #24241, $28,000

Very Rare Pennsylvania Signer George Taylor Receives Payment for Land

GEORGE TAYLOR, Autograph Document Signed. Receipt. Trimmed close, n.p., Dec. 6, 1774. 1 p. 4¾ x 3 in.

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Taylor’s signature is among the rarest of the Signers in part due to his limited role in public life and his death prior to an American victory that would have opened more opportunities to serve.

Item #22992.99, $27,500

A Rare Book From James Madison’s Library:
A History of the Dutch Republic, 1777-1787

JAMES MADISON, Signed Book. [Authorship attributed to James Harris, first Earl of Malmesbury]. An Introduction to the History of the Dutch Republic, for the Last Ten Years, Reckoning from the Year 1777 (London: G. Kearsley, 1788). Octavo, period-style full brown tree calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, red morocco spine label. In a chemise and half morocco slipcase.

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Item #24718, $27,500
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