'Battle Hymn' autographed manuscript up 96% on estimate

Christie's Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana auction, which was held December 7 in New York, has seen excellent results for the autographed first draft manuscript of Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The draft, which was originally valued at $250,000-400,000, pushed its way into the auction's top sales after making a dramatic 95.6% increase on estimate to sell for $782,500.

Americana dominated the sale, with a WI Stone copy of the Declaration of Independence and a Charles Blaskowitz revolutionary war map also sharing the $782,500 realisation.

Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering an 1848 Peter Force copy of the Declaration of Independence, which is one of just 250 known to exist. 

Julia Ward Howe Battle Hymn of the Republic draft manuscript
Howe's hymn is a result of the sense of powerlessness she felt as a woman during the US civil war

The Battle Hymn of the Republic was first composed at the outset of the American civil war, at the request of soldiers who had heard Howe's rendition of John Brown's Body during her tour of the battle lines. Crafted around the same tune, the song has since become one of best-known American hymns.

Following an interview with Abraham Lincoln, Howe was inspired by "the sad expression of Mr. Lincoln's deep blue eyes" and woke in the middle of the night to record the verses that had formed in her head. The manuscript is testament to this, with the lines written hurriedly, rather than in her usual neat hand.

The pages are dated November 1861 from Willard's Hotel in Washington. After being revised and shown to her literary friends, Howe's hymn was then published in the February 1862 issue of Atlantic Monthly, where it was met with much acclaim from the Union forces.

See our full range of rare books and manuscripts for sale for some great opportunities to join this thriving market. For more of the latest news and plenty of exclusive content, sign up to Paul Fraser Collectibles' free weekly newsletter.

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