In the early years, while practicing law, I collected mainly historical newspapers, but by the 1980s autographs became my passion (and, I suppose, my obsession).
I was very fortunate in these crucial formative moments to have placed a strong emphasis on learning from those around me and poring over as many books on autographs as I could. My philosophy on collecting evolved to a simple principle: select pieces that have a story to tell right within them, such as letters evocative of the writer, his times, and his place in history. Concentrate on autographs that are meaningful to you, and if they are, they will be meaningful to others. Using that philosophy, at the end of the 80’s I founded this business.
From the start our emphasis was on customer service, which to us means forming long term relationships, treating people with respect, and always remembering that a good business, like a good life, is not only about money. We are proud that many of our clients have been with us now for decades, some since Catalog 1 all those years ago. I am now in my sixth decade as a collector and third as an autograph dealer. And each year is more rewarding the last.
Working with collectors, with descendants of famous families, and with the world's great institutions to preserve history is a privilege.
I began my career writing with the Associated Press in the Rome bureau, after which I accepted a position handling policy issues for a member of congress, and then as the press secretary to two others. After this, I worked in communications consulting for public and private sector entities. At the time, it did not dawn on me that my place in life would not be in watching history made from the press room, but in preserving history and having the joy of dealing with those who are dedicated to a similar pursuit. On a daily basis, I work with clients as they navigate the waters of building and presenting fine and important collections of their own. I have advised the relatives of famous historical figures (such as Dwight Eisenhower, Thomas Jefferson, and Ronald Reagan), as well as life long collectors and their families, as they sell their treasures. And as the serious collectors of the 21st century look to find the best material, these connections are crucial.
My work also includes creating bridges to national institutions, such as the Smithsonian, the National Constitution Center, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, and the National Museum of American Jewish History, among others. Active in the community, I am a member of the Board of Trustees of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and serve on its Executive Committee. I appear frequently on most major television stations as an expert or as a result of a historical discovery. This includes CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, CBS Morning News with Charlie Rose, BBC, as well as nearly ever major national and international print publication. Along with being a regular presence in the media, I share my passion for history as a contributor to Forbes.com.
Karen Pearlman Raab
Our job is to make sure history’s stories have a voice, and that they live on in a meaningful way for a new generation of collectors and institutions.
I joined The Raab Collection after a career as an attorney at Drexel University's Law School where I developed the school's Pro Bono Program and created innovative programming and partnerships for clinical legal education. I bring with me to The Raab Collection a deep interest in the individuals who played key roles in the great moments in history and the relationships that changed the course of world events. I enjoy sharing this passion with collectors as I assist them in acquiring pieces and curating collections that are not only historically important, but personally interesting.
Equally, this passion comes through while working with descendants and individuals to sell their family archives or significant pieces of history. My role as a steward of history is both humbling and rewarding. I am a former member of the Director’s Council of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and am the past chair of the Founders Award at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. I currently serve on the advisory board for the Homeless Advocacy Project.
This business has been a decades-long passion for me.
Susan Raab co-founded The Raab Collection in 1989, after a career in science. She bought the firm’s first autograph, and was instrumental in the early years in guiding it toward quality rather than quantity. In 1993 she joined the firm full time, and concepted its catalogs. These were pioneering as the first fully illustrated catalogs in the field, in which every item was shown. She also took up the tasks of handling the firm’s financial matters, as well as inventory management. Susan is a primary strategic consultant on all matters.
Raab Museum Presence
Our documents are frequently on display in institutions nationwide, most recently with loans to the National Constitution Center, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, and the National Museum of American Jewish History. In 2008 The Raab Collection created the historical exhibit inside the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the first of its kind. Below: Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears letter, discovered by us and sold to a private collector, who generously lent it to the National Constitution Center.
Raab Media Presence
The Raab Collection is the most frequently cited autograph dealer nationwide, having appeared on CNN, NBC Nightly News, CBS Morning News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Business Week and the New York Times, among many others.