Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Abraham Lincoln's Folding Brass Dividers Used by Him During the Civil War. The dividers, approximately five inches long, are housed in a beige silk-lined folding box with gilt-lettered leather spine, stamped on the front cover "Justin G. Turner Collection". Their sharp steel points are very slightly rusted in spots, but fundamental condition is excellent. Accompanied by the original autograph letter of Robert Todd Lincoln presenting them to Thomas T. Eckert, chief of the War Department telegraph staff. The letter occupies the first two pages of a four-page, black-bordered mourning notesheet; datelined "Executive Mansion, Washington, May 21 / 65" and signed "R.T. Lincoln", it states: "Major Hay [John Hay, the president's assistant secretary] told me this morning that you were desirous of some relic of my father, and I take pleasure in complying, for I know how high you stood in his esteem. Nearly all of our effects have already been sent away, but I have found the pair of dividers, which he was accustomed to use, & with which you have doubtless often seen him trace distances on maps." The letter has some small chips in the bottom black border and a few scattered finger marks, but is very good; it is accompanied by its original mourning envelope, addressed to Eckert at the War Department and signed by Lincoln, with black wax "L" seal on verso.
    Also present is a 1948 letter by Joanne Eckert Biddle, referring to the descent of the dividers in her family. In the spring of 1862 Thomas Thompson Eckert was appointed a major in the U.S. Army and given charge of the War Department telegraph office, a position he retained through the end of the war. Eckert's office was of such vital importance that it was situated immediately next to that of War Secretary Edwin Stanton, and -- since the Executive Mansion had no telegraph line -- it was very frequently visited by President Lincoln when he wished to read the latest war news, or simply secure a pleasant respite from the crush of visitors at the White House. Lincoln even used the office to write out the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, with paper supplied by Maj. Eckert. As one of the most trusted members of his "military family", Lincoln sent him to Hampton Roads in February 1865 to discuss protocol with the Confederate peace commissioners, before meeting them himself, and just a few weeks later Maj. Eckert was among those who declined to attend Ford's Theatre with the Lincolns on the fatal night. A superlative Lincoln relic that conjures an image of the president, deep in thought, contemplating the movements, the strategies, the purposes, of the most momentous war ever fought on American soil.

    Provenance
    : Thomas T. Eckert, by descent to Joanne Eckert Biddle; Dawson's Book Shop, Los Angeles; Turner, sold privately; Sang lot 1248.

    Please Note:
    Here are links (Page one / Page two) to a Robert Todd Lincoln letter from the collection of the Library of Congress written at approximately the same time period as the letter pictured with this lot. Please note the similarities. Robert Todd Lincoln's handwriting changed considerably later in his life, and these early examples may differ from more familiar later examples.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,339

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 37 days left to consign to the 2020 March 4 Rare Books Signature Auction Books Signature Auction - New York !

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    The Collection of James Kwis Leonard Internet Rare Books Auction
    The Collection of James Kwis Leonard Internet Rare Books Auction
    REALIZED SO FAR $300,884