Various Autographs and Manuscripts from James Cummins Bookseller
Autographs and Manuscripts from James Cummins Bookseller.
By Michael Stillman
James Cummins Bookseller has issued a new catalogue of Autographs and Manuscripts. This is a most diverse collection, save for the common theme of the writer's autograph. Represented are writers, cartoonists, actors, monarchs, presidents, politicians, scientists, poets, explorers, musicians, photographers, and one of the most horrific war criminals the civilized world has ever known. Here are a few of these varied signed items.
We occasionally come across Hemingway letters, and like his books, they are always entertaining. However, item 56 is a bit far out even for him. In March of 1942, the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team was attending spring training in Cuba, Hemingway's home at the time. "Papa" would hang out around the ball field, and one night, invited a bunch of players over to his house. Hemingway evidently got a bit drunk, which turned him from friendly to mean. He challenged one the Dodgers, Hugh Casey, to a fight. Casey was a tough customer, noted for brushing back opposing batters, but Hemingway was also a large man. Casey was not looking to box the famed writer, but Hemingway insisted. They went for five one-minute rounds in Hemingway's living room, and Casey apparently got somewhat the better of it, though the writer held his own. The following day, Hemingway wrote this letter to his trainer, George Brown, asking Brown to help get him in shape for a rematch. Writes Hemingway, "We went five one-minute ones last night and I was under the impression that I needed a lot of work in order to come up against Casey again." He then continues, "I had him down twice and he hit me with everything he had all the time and it didn't do me any harm." In a P.S., Hemingway adds, "Don't say anything about the Casey business. REALLY. It was one of those good ones not the publicity kind." Both Hemingway and Casey were at the top of their game at the time. Hemingway was a very popular novelist, Casey one of baseball's top relief pitchers. Ironically, neither could handle the slide when their careers wound down. Both would commit suicide by shooting themselves, Casey in 1951 amid a paternity scandal and the end of his baseball career, Hemingway a decade later while suffering from poor health and a declining career. His 1942 letter is priced at $12,500.
Item 45 is a very early document for U.S. California collectors. It is an appointment to the Legislative Council signed by then Governor John C. Fremont, better known for his explorations of the area, on January 22, 1847. Fremont had signed the Treaty of Cahuenga just nine days earlier, securing California for the United States. Fremont was appointed Governor by Navy Commodore Stockton, but his appointment did not last long. Washington appointed General Stephen Kearny to the position, and when Fremont did not follow his commands, he was arrested and convicted of mutiny. Fremont would be pardoned by President Polk, and would go on to be the first presidential nominee of the Republican Party, losing to James Buchanan in 1856. Apparently, Fremont was not terribly concerned about who might serve on the Legislative Council. This appointment sheet has a blank space for the name of the appointee, even though Fremont had already signed it. $30,000.
Various Autographs and Manuscripts from James Cummins Bookseller
Autograph and hateful stare of Joseph Goebbels.
Here is the signature from a horrific war criminal. In 1933, famed German-born photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt went to Geneva to attend a League of Nations meeting. There he saw Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels in the garden. He snapped the Nazi's picture, Goebbels looking upward intensely toward the camera. Eisenstaedt would later say, "Here are the eyes of hate." Eisenstaedt also carried a notebook with him where he would have his subjects sign their names and a brief message. Goebbels wrote no message, but did sign the book "Dr. Goebbels." That signature, and a copy of the photograph are offered as item 49. Goebbels would kill his family and commit suicide on May 1, 1945, in the Berlin bunker, the day after Hitler did the same, after serving that one day as German Chancellor. $2,000.
If his career had finished anything like it began, you would not be able to dream of buying a collection like this for such a pittance. Item 27 is a collection of some 600 pages of writings by actor Jackie Coogan and his brother George, who worked behind the scenes in Hollywood. Jackie was born in 1914, and by the age of four was already working in Vaudeville. He soon had a small role in a Charlie Chaplin film, which led to his costarring role in Chaplin's The Kid, when he was just six-years-old. Coogan became a famed child star, and he would have leading roles in several other silent films in the 1920s, including Peck's Bad Boy and Oliver Twist. However, like many child stars, his talents did not transfer to adulthood. In the early 1930s, he appeared in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, "talkies," but these were not so successful. As his career faded, he sued his mother for the money he made as a child star that was held in trust, but received very little of his earnings (California passed a law known as the "Coogan Act" to protect child actors as a result). Coogan married actress Betty Grable (it lasted three years) and during the Second World War, served as a pilot. After the war, he returned to Hollywood, but was only able to secure minor roles in Grade B films. He also garnered parts in television shows, and finally regained a certain amount of recognition from a later generation for his portrayal of Uncle Fester in The Addams Family. Coogan died in 1984. This collection includes numerous photographs, a typescript about his war experiences later converted into an article by George, and various manuscripts and typescripts written by George. $1,500.
Item 34 is a letter signed CLD (for Charles L. Dodgson) to "Ethel." Dodgson is better known to most people by his penname, "Lewis Carroll," creator of Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. "Ethel" was evidently Ethel Hatch, one of Dodgson's "child-friends." In typical "Alice" fashion, Dodgson is evidently referring to a gift, and speaking of the "when" in which it will be received. He writes, "If anticipation gives happiness, what will 40 years of anticipation give? ANS: 40 years of happiness!" In another such riddle, Dodgson says, "If it is odd to have an undergraduate brother, what is it to have two? ANSWER: Even." $6,250.
James Cummins Bookseller is found online at www.jamescumminsbookseller.com, telephone 212-688-6441.