'Steps had been taken by Marcy, Scott & Co to break me down' - Zachary Taylor

Following its successful auction of fine books and art, which was led by a signed edition of Arthur Szyk's version of The Haggadah, Swann are again looking forward to a sale featuring rare, collectible signed texts.

There are some extraordinary autographs on offer, notably from the world of poetry and music. A truly classic piece of Americana is on offer in the form of a signed, fair copy, complete four verses of the final version of Katherine  Bates's America the Beautiful.

Handwritten America the Beautiful
Handwritten America the Beautiful

The fair copy, together with a letter signed, to "My dear Mr Winslow", is expected to sell for $10,000-15,000.

Jazz enthusiasts will be particularly excited to see an exceptionally rare Django Reinhardt signature ("D.Reinhardt"), on the cover of a pamphlet profiling the music of the great jazz guitarist and violinist Stéphane Grappelli. That piece is listed at $6000-9000.

Some exceptional space memorabilia is also on offer in the sale, most notably a United States flag and emblem from the Apollo X Moon Mission flown to (though of course not onto) the moon. The pair are mounted on a presentation certificate made out to one George James.

Apollo 10 moon Flown Flag
Apollo 10 moon Flown Flag

The piece is signed by the whole crew: Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan. Space-flown Stars n Stripes are always valuable, so the $6,000-8,000 estimate seems a little modest.

However, the strongest part of the sale is the Presidential section with a truly exceptional set of Zachary Taylor documents. Known as Old Rough and Ready, Taylor is thought to have died of gastroenteritis just 16 months into his term, the third shortest of any President.

There are five Zachary Taylor signed manuscripts in the sale, with the most valuable of all being a letter to John J Crittenden accusing Winfield Scott,  William L Marcy and others of conspiring to undermine his efforts to fight the Mexican forces, speculating that "President-making" is at the bottom of it.

Zachary Taylor autograph
Densely written Zachary Taylor signed letter

There are some who believe that Taylor's death was an assassination and that he died as a result of arsenic rather than illness, perhaps at the hands of those infuriated by his moderate stance on slavery, though an autopsy found little evidence of this.

Regardless, the intriguing document goes under the hammer with an estimate of $15,000-25,000 in Swann Galleries's sale which takes place on November 4 in New York and online.


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