Autographs and Letters from David Schulson
The latest from David Schulson, with the autograph of Lord Protector
By Michael Stillman
David Schulson Autographs has issued a new catalogue with the succinct, to-the-point title 137. To elaborate on that, Schulson offers a collection of 100 autographed documents, largely personal letters, from European and American notable personalities. There is a concentration of documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries. All types of people are represented, from political to scientific, travelers and writers, and many from the arts. If your interests run to European (including Russian) musical composers and artists, you will definitely want to see this catalogue, as many of the greatest of these names can be found. However, as might be expected from a catalogue that ranges from Dr. Seuss to the Marquis de Sade, just about anything might show up here. So, let's take a look.
It's always reassuring to know that great figures suffered from the same kinds of problems as the rest of us. On November 16, 1939, F. Scott Fitzgerald, of Great Gatsby fame, writes his landlord, Isabel Horton (wife of actor Edward Everett Horton), "Here's the rest of the rent due from October 19th to November 19th. Sorry it's been such a mess..." Fitzgerald had moved to Hollywood at the time to try to make money screenwriting, something he disliked, but his financial situation had become precarious. This letter affirms those difficulties, as he was evidently almost a month late paying his rent. It was only a year later that he suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 44, still living in Hollywood. Item 31. Priced at $3,500.
Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was a great humanitarian, though most people probably would not think so, considering the device named for him is the guillotine. The good doctor was actually against the death penalty, but so long as it was going to be applied, he believed a quick severance of the head would be far less painful than other means of execution then in place. His idea was put into practice during the French Revolution, and as that spiraled out of control, the device got far more use than Dr. Guillotin could have imagined or wished. On April 29, 1799, he wrote to Senator LeMercier, apologizing for being unable to visit because of "the annoyance of being ill myself, with two bleedings, emetics [something which causes vomiting], bladder relievers, all of which are too good reasons for not leaving my house..." Medicine was not very pleasant, nor helpful in those days, but despite the troubles, Guillotin managed to keep his head about him. Item 38. $2,250.
Some product endorsements are more impressive than others, though there's no sign this one was ever used for advertising purposes. Roald Amundsen writes on August 26, 1912, to "Herr Aug. P. Horn" of the company Pommichau of Silkeborg, Denmark, that their clothing was both pleasant and durable. Presumably it was warm as well, for it had been used on the expedition of the ship Fram to the Antarctic, a trip highlighted by Amundsen's being the first to reach the South Pole, just eight months prior to this letter being written. Item 1. $2,750.
Autographs and Letters from David Schulson
American/French singer Josephine Baker.
Item 52 is a most difficult letter from Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison and one of America's best-known first ladies. Her husband died on June 28, 1836, so she was still deeply in mourning when she wrote this letter on September 7, 1836. She acknowledges correspondence from the recipient of this letter, apologizes for being so late in responding, but notes her own busy schedule and ill health that forced her to have her niece write her letters. She then speaks of her main task at the time, preparing for the publication of her husband's papers. She writes, "The writings left me by my lamented husband engross my attention - I have been engaged with others in copying and preparing them for the press, and my aspirations for the fulfillment of his wishes are supported against the difficulties to be encountered by a consciousness of their importance." $1,800.
Josephine Baker was a most notable singer and dancer, a black American woman who broke the color barrier in concert halls and movies in the 1930s. However, her greatest fame came in France, to which she moved and obtained citizenship in 1937. Without the segregation she experienced in America, she was freer to become a star, and she became a huge one in her adoptive land. Baker assisted the French Underground during the war, receiving the highest of honors, the Croix de Guerre. However, she did still continue to participate in the American civil rights movement, speaking at Martin Luther King's great March on Washington in 1963. Item 5 is a signed photograph of Baker, with an inscription in French and the date 1937. $1,400.
David Schulson Autographs may be contacted at 973-379-3800 or email@example.com. Their web address is schulsonautographs.com.