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    Field Glasses and Original Case of Major General John C. Breckenridge with Period Presentation Inscription. A fitted paper label is neatly inserted on the inside the lid bearing the following ink script presentation, "After all - Maj Gen'l J. C. Breckenridge/ to/ Mrs. Edgeworth Bird/ May 7th 1865/ Granite Farms Hancock Co. Geo.", with the identical inscription (less the "After all") neatly penned on the silk lining of the lid underneath the paper label, also unquestionably period. The label bears distinct dark impressions from the lens rims of the binoculars.

    John Cabell Breckenridge came within a hair's breadth of actually being president of the United States. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1821 and entered the practice of law in that city in 1845. Breckenridge served as a major in the 3rd Kentucky during the Mexican War and, upon his return was elected to the Kentucky state Legislature in 1849 and the U.S. House in 1851. In 1856 he was elected vice president of the United States, the youngest man ever to hold the office. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate after the completion of his term and in 1860, on the split Democratic ticket, ran for president, on a platform of preserving the Union. Ironically, Breckenridge received the electoral votes of 11 slave states but was spurned by his native state of Kentucky. He held his seat in the U.S. Senate until October 2, 1861, when, believing that Kentucky's independence and integrity was being threatened by Union troops, he resigned. He fled south and was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. Breckenridge fought at Shiloh, Vicksburg, New Market, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Cold Harbor, finally serving as the Confederate Secretary of War from February 1865 to the close of the war when he fled first to Cuba, then to England and Canada. He was finally given dispensation to return home in 1869 and practiced law until his death in 1875. Breckenridge was neither a great statesman nor a great soldier but was considered by many to be 'the personification of Kentucky chivalry." His gallantry on the battlefield was never questioned but, as one observer claimed "brought the perfume of Kentucky bourbon with him" wherever he went and was actually charged as being drunk and unfit for duty at Chattanooga. Robert E. Lee characterized Breckenridge as being "a lofty, pure, strong man"

    These binoculars are 6¾" high, constructed entirely of brass, and covered with pebbled leather on the tubes and sliding sun shades, all other surfaces covered with japanning. Leather covered pressed board case lined with pink silk and a velvet band around the inside of the body at the top. Black composition eye pieces. Completely unmarked and quintessentially Civil War period in every respect. The case has japanned iron sling buckles on the sides and a small paper tag with the printed number "228" is attached to the front. A wonderful artifact which doubtless witnessed some of the Civil War's most ferocious fighting with period ID to one of the Confederacy's most important and romantic figures.

    CONDITION: Leather covering missing from one sliding sun shade, overall excellent, just displaying some honest wear and a couple of chips, quite sound. The brass retains about 95% of the original japanned finish. Composition eyepieces with a number of small chips on the rims, again the result of honest use. The lid, which is separated from the body is excellent, just some minor scuffs and a couple of chips. One original brass hinge is on the lid, the other on the case. The wooden bottom, with its silk lining, has also become separated from the body. The interior silk lining of the case is a bit tattered but about 90% intact. Overall completely untouched.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    29th-30th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,869

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