Last week, Nathan Raab, principal at The Raab Collection and author of The Hunt for History, was a featured speaker at The Rosenbach in conjunction with its current exhibition, Succession: Why Presidential History Matters Now (on view through November 26th). The exhibition draws on the collection of David Rosenbach Sackey, as well as the museum’s own remarkable collection of rare Americana.
Joined by an exhibition co-curator, Rosenbach staff member Dr. Alexander L. Ames, Raab discussed the world of historical autograph and document collecting and how the market has changed over the past two decades, both in terms of inventory and collector interest. The two also talked about collector motivation and the future of collecting.
When asked, during the program, to pick a favorite historical document on display, Raab chose a George Washington letter. Written to New York’s Gouverneur Morris and dated May 20, 1799, Washington’s letter is a cordial welcoming home to a fellow Founding Father who had been serving abroad as Minister Plenipotentiary to France. Washington reflects on his hope to have a peaceful retirement in language evocative of the great calls on his time made by the new nation. Perhaps as interesting, however, the letter is part of the David Rosenbach Sackey Collection; he had received it as a gift from his great-uncle, the famous book and manuscript dealer Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach. That connection–which sparked a love for American history from one generation to another–is something Raab himself has experienced and one he aims to foster every day.