A rare early autograph in the history of American autograph collecting
William Buell Sprague became the first person ever to gather a complete set of the autographs of the signers of the United States Declaration of Independence. He completed this task by February 1833, according to correspondence with friend Jared Sparks at about that time. He also gathered a collection of the signatures...
William Buell Sprague became the first person ever to gather a complete set of the autographs of the signers of the United States Declaration of Independence. He completed this task by February 1833, according to correspondence with friend Jared Sparks at about that time. He also gathered a collection of the signatures of all of the members of the Convention which framed the Constitution of the United States in 1787, and a complete set of the autographs of the presidents of the United States and all the officers of the United States government during the administrations of Presidents Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and John Quincy Adams. This latter collection included signatures of the presidents, vice presidents, all the members of the Cabinet, and all of the justices of the United States Supreme Court and all of the foreign ministers. Further, he collected the signatures of all the military officers involved in the American revolutionary war, from all nations, during the whole war. He collected signatures of great men of the Reformation and great skeptics. He even owned a copy of the autograph of Saint Augustine. He was America’s foremost philographer by the time of his death.
Letter Signed, Montpelier, December 24, 1831 to Rev. William Buell Sprague. “I have received your letter of the 12th inst. and would cheerfully make a direct application for the autograph of Mr. Blair if I knew the proper source. Mr. Tyler, a Virginia Senator in Congress will I believe be able to ascertain it, and doubtless equally willing to attend to your wishes. I take the liberty therefore of suggesting the expediency of a line to him on the subject. I am laboring under a severe rheumatism which among other effects cripples my fingers as you will perceive, and obliges me to use a borrowed pen. I pray you, Sir, to be assured of my continual esteem and cordial respects.” Very good condition, signed in full with the signature of old age and the rheumatism he mentions. The Mr. Blair he refers to was probably noted journalist and presidential advisor Francis Preston Blair who, like Tyler, was from Virginia.
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