Abraham Lincoln 'white rabbits' letter is worth following to this California sale
A letter to a kind benefactor who gifted white rabbits to Abraham Lincoln's bereaved son is auctioning
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Monday 21 November 2011
Ira and Larry Goldberg auctions, a name which features among the very strongest in the rare coin markets, have branched out into other areas of collectibles with some impressive items.
Regular readers will remember that they offered a wide variety of space memorabilia earlier in the year, including fragments from the flag planted on the moon by Apollo 11’s moonwalkers Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Their upcoming manuscripts auction doesn’t disappoint, boasting one of the shortest, yet most famous letters of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
The letter is signed in full as President, from the Executive Mansion, April 2, 1862. It is written in the hand of John Hay to Michael Crock, a man of whom we know nothing except that he seems to have been kind and considerate.
On February 20, 1862, President and Mrs. Lincoln lost Willie, their third-born son, to typhoid fever. They had already lost Eddie, their second-born son, in 1850, just 10 months before the birth of Willie.
The Lincolns were distraught with grief, Mary to the edge of insanity. Lincoln lamented:
"My poor boy. He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die!"
Tad, the youngest Lincoln son and the only one left in the White House (Robert, the eldest, was attending Harvard), had also been ill with typhoid fever, but had recovered.
Mr. Crock must have realised how devastated the younger boy would be without his brother and playmate, and sent two white rabbits to the White House to console him.
President Lincoln took time from his own grief and the concerns of the Civil War to acknowledge Mr. Crock's kindness. He wrote:
April 2, 1862
My Dear Sir
Allow me to thank you in behalf of my little son for your present of White Rabbits. He is very much pleased with them.
Michael Crock Esq.
860 N. Fourth St. Philada."
President Lincoln rarely signed letters with his full name, reserving it for official documents. The fact that he signed the letter to Mr. Crock in full was most likely his way of truly expressing his appreciation for the gift to his young son.
The letter is toned and shows its age but Lincoln's signature, on this, one of his most famous letters, is an especially bold and beautiful example. Ira and Larry Goldberg's auction takes place on December 3 in California.
Presidential autographs are always coveted. We've already sold our own Abraham Lincoln autograph, but we do have an exceptional piece from Lincoln's fellow inhabitant of Mount Rushmore, George Washington.
Recent and related articles
· John F Kennedy 'posthumous autograph' - one of just 30 - appears for sale | 18 November 2011
· George Washington's Inaugural Address manuscript stirs collectors to $182,000 | 17 November 2011
· Thomas Jefferson signed letter brings a message from history to Spink Smythe | 14 November 2011
Guides and analysis
Images: Ira and Larry Goldberg