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    [United States Sanitary Commission]: Autograph Album Sold at New York Metropolitan Fair to Benefit Wounded Soldiers, Including Note Signed by Abraham Lincoln.
    This extensive and extraordinary scrapbook was sold at the Metropolitan Fair in New York City in April 1864. The Metropolitan Fair was a public event organized in New York City by the United States Sanitary Commission to raise funds and supplies for the Union Army, especially sick and wounded Union soldiers as well as Confederate prisoners of war. The fair was originally scheduled to occur on March 28, 1864, but was postponed to April 4 and it resulted in the largest Sanitary Fair, raising over a million of dollars for the Union cause. Among the items that were sold at the Fair to raise funds was a manuscript copy of the Gettysburg Address contributed by President Lincoln himself (the Edward Everett copy at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL), and the present album, won by William Astor with a bid of $20,000 and then presented it to Teresa Griffin Viele (1831-1902), the wife of General Egbert Ludovicus Viele (1825-1902), a civil engineer and U.S. Representative from New York, as well as an officer in the Union army during the American Civil War, who assembled the album for sale at the fair. Mrs. Viele served on the fair's special committees, including Arms and Trophies, Curiosity Shop, and Special Literary Contributions.

    The album is comprised of approximately 150 autographs, some with inscriptions, quotations, notes, and drawings, by politicians, generals, artists, and writers primarily from the Civil War era. The letters and notes, most of which were written for Mrs. Viele, date from 1861 to 1864. In addition to the autographs, the album includes two small fragments from the Confederate flag that flew over Fort Pulaski (Georgia), torn down by Union soldiers under the command of General Viele in April 1862. Also included is a cased image of General Viele's wife Teresa, whom this album was presented to.

    The autographs of presidents of the United States include an autographed note to Mrs. Viele, 3 ¼" x 4", signed by Abraham Lincoln. "Mrs. E. L. Viele, I send this line for your album as you request. A. Lincoln." Other autographs from past and future presidents include, 1) Ulysses S. Grant. ALS. "U.S. Grant." Two pages, Head Quarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee; February 15, 1864. "Knowing the great benefits received by troops under my command...at the hands of the United States, and others, Sanitary Commissions, I cannot refrain expressing my approval of, and desire for the success of, the enterprise." 2) James Madison. DS. June 4, 1806. Passport for Louis Bancel. 3) Andrew Jackson. ALS. April 23, 1829. Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, approving a proposal to make the pay for physicians and surgeons at a marine hospital proportionate to the number of patients served. 4) Millard Fillmore. ALS. March 26, 1864. "I am honored by . . . your . . . asking my autograph for the New York Fair." 5) Franklin Pierce. ALS on mourning stationary. April 4, 1864. Pierce apologizes that he cannot contribute [to the Fair]. 6) James Buchanan. ALS. May 2, 1864. "Congratulations [to] you on the unexampled success of the New York Fair for the relief of the brave & disabled soldiers."[George Washington]. MS. Philadelphia, February 12, 1794. Check to Bailey Washington in the amount of $500, bearing George Washington's signature in hand of unknown forger.

    Artists, Writers, and Scientists autographs include: 1) Emanuel Leutze. Two graphite drawings signed. "E. Leutze." The first, 3 ½" x 3 ¼" (drawing), 11 ¼" x 9", drawn on album page with embossed decorative border; n.d. Head of George Washington in profile, with an autograph inscription signed at lower edge: "I could not find a better subject / to fill the place / E.L." The second, 7" x 9", a frontiersman on horseback after a figure in his painting, "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way," with holograph title at upper left: "A Knight Errant of the Prairies," Signed and Inscribed at lower edge, in pencil "West Point July 1862 / for Mrs. Gen'l Viele / with compliments / E Leutze." 2) Nathaniel Hawthorne. ALS, "Nath'l Hawthorne." March 8, 1864. "My condition prevents me from producing any original composition for the benefit of the Fair, or from doing more than expressing my sincerest sympathy in its objects." 3) Washington Irving. ANS, [to his brother-lacking salutation], n.d. Six lines inquiring after his dogs at Sunnyside. With a note from his nephew, Pierre M. Irving, attesting to the recipient, place (Madrid), and date (1843) of the former note. Both on small slips of paper. 4) William Cullen Bryant. AMS. February 22, 1864. Fair copy of his poem, "Not Yet." 5) Harriet Beecher Stowe. AQS. "H.B. Stowe." March 30, 1864. Nine lines from Isaiah: "Every valley shall be exalted . . . & the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together." With a brief ANS, sending the AQS. 6) James Russell Lowell. Autograph Poem Signed, "J.R. Lowell. February 7, 1864. Probably original composition in 4 verses: "The Autograph," beginning "Tis an old thought, & oft exprest." 7) John Greenleaf Whittier. Autograph Poem Signed, "J.G.W." February 14, 1864. Complete fair copy of "Brown of Ossawatomie." With an ALS, sending the poem. Three pages. 8) Lydia H. Sigourney. Autograph Poem Signed, "L. Huntley Sigourney." Three pages, November 1860. Complete fair copy of "Stars in My Country's Sky." 9) Oliver Wendell Holmes. Autograph Poem Signed. "O.W.H." Two pages, February 13, 1864. Complete fair copy of "Never or Now," with a postscript signed: ". . . copied for the 'Metropolitan Fair' at the request of Mrs. General Viele." 10) Victor Hugo. ANS, "V.H." February 26, [?]. Note in French on mourning stationary to an unnamed recipient, sending thanks for flowers. 11) Thomas Francis Meagher. ANS. March 3, 1864. ". . . shall not all the treasure and all the life it took to preserve it for the future, vast as the measure of both has been, find their reimbursement in the new value they accord it; and the nobler devotion which the price of its preservation must inspire?" 12) Julia Ward Howe. Autograph Poem Signed. Three pages on a single folded sheet, n.d. Complete fair copy of her "The Dead Christ." 13) Louis Agassiz. ALS. "LAgassiz." January 23, 1864. Addressed to "My dear Alex," in French, concerning a trip to Niagara and further travel plans.

    Americana--Civil War autographs include: 1) John L. Worden. AMS. February 25, 1864. "The battle fought at Hampton Roads on the 9th of March 1862, between the U.S. Iron Clad 'Monitor' of 2 guns and the Rebel Iron Clad 'Merrimac' of 12 guns." 2) Winfield Scott. ANS. 1864. ". . . One, at the instance of this Fair, has only to write a name in an Album, to secure a terrestrial immortality." 3) John A. Dix. ANS. 1864. "Every day brings with it fresh evidence of the hopelessness of the rebel cause . . . ." 4) Irvin McDowell. ALS. N.d. Later fair copy of his telegram to George B. McClellan from Manassas on June 12, 1862: "My Third Division, McCall's, is now on the way. Please do me the favor to so place it that it may be in a position to join the others as they come down from Fredericksburg." 5) John Sedgwick. ALS. Headquarters Sixth Army Corps, Camp Brandy Station; April 4, 1864. Sending a photograph [not present] and complaining that he looks too old in it. 6) George B. McClellan. ALS. "GeoBMcClellan."February 18, 1864. Letter closing "[w]ith the hope that the results of the Metropolitan Fair may be commensurate with the wants of our Soldiers, and with the greatness of the City." 7) Ambrose Powell Hill. AM. Two pages, West Point; June 15, 1852. Fair copy of a poem by an unknown author: "Graduating Song." 8) Ambrose E. Burnside. ALS. "A.E. Burnside." N.d. "I am quite sure you will agree with me that much has been done during the present great struggle that is absolutely wrong, because it, at the time, seemed . . . wise . . ..I have discerned in all your actions and opinions during this war an enthusiastic, and honest support of our cause." 9) Robert Anderson. ALS. March 1, 1864. "[I]n reply to your kind note requesting a line for your album... [I write] with my best wishes for the success of the noble cause, in which the ladies of New York are now engaged." 10) Joseph K.F. Mansfield. ALS. "Mansfield." June 27, 1862. Letter to General Viele: "The telegraph line is down again. Can you not guard it to the half way house." 11) William Tecumseh Sherman. ALS. "W.T. Sherman." Nashville, Tennessee; April 5, 1864. "I subjoin my signature to be used for the beneficent purpose asked for and beg to add the assurances of the personal respect I feel for yourself and honored husband." 12) Philip Henry Sheridan. ALS. "P.H. Sheridan." Two pages, August 21, 1869 [????]. "I sincerely thank you Madame for your sympathy & valuable services to our wounded soldiers during the long & painful struggle." 13) David Dixon Porter. ALS. "David D. Porter / Rear Admiral / Commanding Miss. Fleet." "Flag Ship Black Hawk" stationery. April 14, 1864. "Tho I cannot flatter myself that my autograph possesses any value, I send it . . . [to] help to fill the pages of an autograph book." 14) Winfield Scott Hancock. ALS. "Winf'd S. Hancock." March 9, 1864. Sending his autograph. 15) Salmon P. Chase. ALS. "SPChase." Treasury Department stationery. June 26, 1863. Letter to General Viele, asking him to expect a visit from Col. [William] Birney who is to recruit a "colored Brigade." 16) Don Carlos Buell. ALS. "D.C. Buell." Two pages, March 19, 1864. "The labors of the Sanitary Commission are felt on the battlefield and in the hospital, and are daily cheering the hearts of our gallant soldiers with generous evidences of gratitude for their sacrifices." 17) Horatio G. Wright. ALS. "H.G. Wright." Head Quarters, 3rd Brigade, Camp Walton; October 15, 1861. Letter to General Viele, informing him that the countersign was leaked by a drunk solder and so has been changed to "New York." 18) Michael Corcoran. ALS. On "Corcoran's Irish Legion" stationery, January 21, 1863. Letter to General Viele, introducing James G. Smith. 19) Abner Doubleday. ANS. "A. Doubleday." April 10, 1864. "Peace gained by victory, a United people and Freedom for all." 19) James H. Wilson. ALS. "J.H. Wilson." Three pages written on single folded sheet, September 26, 1862. Letter to General Viele inquiring about joining his regiment as a colonel. 20) William S. Rosecrans. ALS. "W.S. Rosecrans." Head Quarters Department of the Missouri stationary, St. Louis; February 15, 1864. "I cannot think of refusing your request for an autograph for the album you are proposing for the Sanitary Fair. God bless the ladies of America." 21) Egbert Ludovicus Viele. ANS. March 1864. "Out of this struggle there will result a higher civilization, which will be worth to the future all that it has cost the present."

    Americana-General autographs include: 1) Marquis de Lafayette. ALS. August 21, 1833. Letter, with detached address panel, to Samuel Morse, in English, introducing Mr. [Piero] Maroncelli, an Italian writer and patriot recently released from an Austrian prison and seeking connections in New York. 2) William J. Worth. ALS. "W.J. Worth." Two pages, [May 12, 1848]. Letter to his son: "I am digesting as best I may impatience at the . . . town of Tacubaya in the midst of my splendid division of the old guard. Never was there a body of men in higher order or more deserving of their country. . . . A soldier's blood, such as flows in your veins my child can appreciate these sentiments." 3) John C. Frémont. ALS. "J.C. Frémont." February 8, 1864. "Today, my quill . . . refuses anything graceful or light as is befitting . . . to the noble objects of our Metropolitan Fair. I therefore comply . . . in a letter . . . and all my cordial wishes for a brilliant success to the generous efforts which . . . encourage all who are engaged in defence of the country." 4) Alexander Hamilton. LS. August 4, 1791. Letter to Jabez Bowen, instructing him to pay the pension of the invalids in his state. 5) James Monroe. ALS. March 10, 1825. Letter with integral address sheet, to Humphrey Peake, regretting that he could not nominate Mr. Neale to a consulate in the South as he intended. 6) Henry Clay. ALS. "H. Clay." March 22, 1852. Letter to Anne Charlotte Lynch Botta, urging her not to replace the medal [a gift presented to Clay but stolen from her carriage]. 7) Aaron Burr. ALS. "A. Burr." December 3, 1803. Letter, with detached address sheet, to John Jacob Astor: "After perusing the enclosed, be pleased to seal & hand it to Mr. Harper." 8) Daniel Webster. ALS. "Dan'l Webster." Two pages, February 1, 1849. Letter to R.M. Blatchford: "A cold & raw morning. . . walked round the Capitol Square, touched the toes of Washington's Statue--found he had cold feet, & came back . . . in time to read the newspapers before breakfast." 9) Richard Mentor Johnson. ALS. "Rh:M:Johnson" November 10, 1838. Letter written as Vice President to A.H. Davis: "[I]f you could send on 6 or 7000 $ only under that contract I could purchase a lot of Negroes on time."

    The New York Metropolitan Fair was organized by the United States Sanitary Commission in order to provide relief to sick and wounded Union soldiers as well as Confederate prisoners of war. The Commission collected donations of food, supplies, and cash, as well as paintings, statuary, furniture, autographs, and other collectibles, some to be sold and others on temporary loan to be displayed in the Fair's public exhibition, including this autograph album assembled by Mrs. Viele. Mrs. Viele served on the Fair's special committees, including Arms and Trophies, Curiosity Shop, and Special Literary Contributions. The Metropolitan Fair raised over $1,000 million.


    The United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) was a private relief agency created by federal legislation on June 18, 1861, to support sick and wounded soldiers of the United States Army during the American Civil War. It operated across the North, raised an estimated $25 million in Civil War era revenue (assuming 1865 dollars, $409.18 million in 2019) and in-kind contributions to support the cause, and enlisted thousands of volunteers. The president was Henry Whitney Bellows, and Frederick Law Olmsted acted as executive secretary. It was modeled on the British Sanitary Commission, set up during the Crimean War (1853-1856)

    Provenance: Viele family and by descent to the present owner.
    With--[Emily Viele Strother]. "Teresa: A Memory." A bound typescript of biography on her mother, Teresa Griffin, unsigned but inscribed in 1950 to her daughter, Elise, on the front free endpaper.

    A spectacular album with autographs of Abraham Lincoln and many leading military, literary, and political figures of the Civil War era.

    Condition: Most of the autographs are mounted one to a page on recto and verso, most with calligraphic identification and painted decorative border. With calligraphic title page, disbound with original morocco boards present.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2019
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
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