Description

    Great Victorian New England Autograph Album From the Historic Alden Family Autograph collecting was all the rage in the mid-19th century. This volume was custom-made for Georgia Anna Alden (1830-1874), a descendant of famed Pilgrim John Alden. The front cover is embossed with "autographs...G.A.A." in gilt lettering. Sometimes these albums were filled with autographs from famous people who had no acquaintance with the collector. But in this case, the contents are mainly personal communications to Miss Alden. It is not surprising, given the Alden pedigree, that Georgia corresponded with some of the leading literary and intellectual lights of the day. Among the more interesting of the 35 items (mostly letters) tipped into the album by Miss Alden are: 1) An 1864 autographed letter signed from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow responding to a letter about Georgia's visit to the German city of Nuremberg. Also attached are four lines from Longfellow's work Nuremberg, also signed by him; 2) A second 1864 Longfellow autographed letter signed in which the poet thanks her for sending him a story The Legend of the Linden Tree, which she thought might be an appropriate subject for him to write a poem about. He responds, "The legend is certainly pretty and poetical, and yet it does not strike me as a very good subject for a poem. Perhaps it is, that in the lurid atmosphere around us (i.e., the horrors of the Civil War) all legends look pale, remote and unsubstantial, and lost for awhile their power over the imagination. Nevertheless I thank you for it, and will put it away in my memory for better days."; 3) An 1863 autographed letter signed from poet William Cullen Bryant, responding to the link between her Alden family tree and his. He also attaches, at her request, eight lines from one of his works (beginning "thou waitest late and com'st alone..."), which he has signed and dated as well, "December 1863."; 4) An 1864 autographed letter signed from poet John Greenleaf Whittier, responding to a request for him to send handwritten lines of his own verse (for her collection), to which he responds, "I do not like to copy my writings; but I suppose it will serve the purpose if I sign myself... Faithfully thy friend, John Greenleaf Whittier."; 5) An autographed letter signed from noted statesman and political figure Edward Everett; 6) An 1863 autographed letter signed from Geo. W. Curtis, editor of Harper's Weekly during the Civil War; 7) A lengthy 1845 autographed letter signed from Oliver Wendell Holmes to a teenage Georgian, gently declining an invitation to deliver a lecture. At the time Miss Alden resided on Nantucket Island, and Holmes writes, "With the exception of Great Britain, there is no island in the ocean which I should visit with greater interest than Nantucket."; 8) A possibly significant full translation of Longfellow's Psalm Life into German, dated 1861 and signed with a signature we cannot decipher; 9) A lengthy 1871 autographed letter signed from author Edward Everett Hale about family genealogy, but closing with philosophical discourse about the "language of Faith, Hope, Love, and the greatest of these is love." As well an another Hale autographed letter signed; 10) 1867 autographed letter signed from poet James Russell Lowell; 11) Several notes and a carte de visite from Vassar astronomy professor Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), considered the first woman astronomer and one of the earliest female college professors; 12) Plus letters from various other clergymen and intellectual figures who, while known, are considered "lesser lights" than those named above. While many of these letters are desirable individually, the album on the whole provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of a clearly well-educated, but unchallenged women of the Victorian Age, who was left with little to do but correspond and entertain. Also fascinating is the clear focus in some of this correspondence on her Alden genealogy and her attempts to trace links to other refined family trees. Contents are in excellent condition, and the exterior is very good but for the front cover being clearly separated from the spine. Measures 6.5" x 9.5". (Because of the nature of this item it has not been submitted for independent certification of authenticity, but we have no doubt of it's veracity.)

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2005
    13th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
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