Our Top Five... Military Autographs for sale - from Nelson vs Napoleon to WWII
Military minds make crucial decisions affecting history - here are our top five autographs for sale
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Wednesday 15 February 2012
We sometimes refer to high quality collectibles and memorabilia as 'pieces of history', and rarely can this be truer than when referring to signed military documents.
Owning the autograph of a military leader gives an exciting sense of being close to a mind which made turning-point decisions in history. Sometimes it's even possible to own a document marking a particular moment in a conflict and the agonising over it by a historical figure.
At this time, we've a particularly impressive selection of military autographs in stock, and we couldn't resist telling you about our favourite five:
5. General Custer's last hand?
General George Armstrong Custer was regarded as a Civil War Hero, and a popular figure in America. However, he is probably best remembered for the end of his life, with 'Custer's Last Stand' being the more popular name for the Battle of Little Bighorn.
In fact, the phrase 'Custer's Last Stand' is probably better known than the war it featured in. A one-sided Indian triumph in the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, Custer's Last Stand ended his life before he reached 40, with two of his brothers also amongst the 268 Americans dead.
We have part of an album back with General Custer's autograph appearing alongside an unknown signature.
4. Napoleon feels threatened
More famous than Custer, Napoleon Bonaparte was France's first Emperor, following the French Revolution. The Napoleonic Wars dominated Europe's politics for the first quarter of the 19th century.
One of the stickier times for Napoleon had was when he was forced to give up his Russian campaign. The retreat galvanised Frederick III of Prussia who slipped from French controlled Berlin to inspire his countrymen to return to the war.
We have a fantastic piece of history available showing that this was not lost on Napoleon. He writes to his loyal Duc de Feltre requesting that the gunpowder supplies of three cities near Breslau are bolstered. Frederick was about to raise a storm in Breslau, and the French Emperor knew it.
3. Oliver Cromwell - a divisive figure
A tremendously effective General in the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell is seen as a hero to the cause of parliamentary democracy by some and conversely as a dictator by others, especially in Ireland.
A key figure in Britain's brief period of monarchy-free 'republic', Cromwell is indisputably one of the great historical figures of the time, and so we're delighted to be offering his autograph clipped from an official document (noting something indiscernible about marriage).
2. A fragment of a document by Dam Buster Guy Gibson
The name Guy Gibson should need no explanation to British ears, as he is known as one of the great RAF war heroes. His part in destroying two major dams in the Ruhr in the daring 'Dam Buster' raids using the remarkable 'bouncing bomb' earned Gibson the Victoria Cross.
Sadly, he did not live to enjoy it for long, dying in a 1944 crash on active service one year after the raids. We have a rare example of Guy Gibson's autograph, apparently clipped from an official document.
1. The Full Nelson
Well remembered as a British war hero - and as one of the few who had a clear victory over Napoleon at Trafalgar, Horatio Nelson was one of history's most celebrated naval warriors.
In 1801, he was appointed to command the anti-invasion force in the English Channel, and launched attacks on ships outside Boulogne. The battles' casualties included his protégé, one Edward Parker.
An uncharacteristically terse signed note was sent by Nelson back to his Admiral (name unknown). 'My Dear ad: The Vessels from Dunkirk are got into Calais this morning. Ever yours faithfully Nelson & Bronte'.
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