We move far ahead in time for this next item. It is a letter from President Ronald Reagan written in 1988, his last full year in office. He has taken the time to respond to a letter from Dale Hackbart of Des Moines, who has sent him an early photograph of Reagan and asked whether the President can identify the location. Reagan is stumped. He writes back, “I'm afraid I can't pin down the locale of the horseback photo. I do know it was Iowa & possibly a farm not a riding stable. My haircut alone makes it Iowa. Hollywood changed my part. But we're talking 50 years ago & while I occasionally had private invitations to ride – but I can't place this one. It's a nice looking horse.” Reagan's entire letter is written by hand. Item 47. $3,800.
Item 27 is a letter dated August 22, 1797, from Postmaster General Joseph Habersham. It is directed to the “Post Master at Machias District of Maine,” and it directs any letters sent to Georges Washington Lafayette and two others be forwarded “without any delay” to the President of the United States. There's a story behind this odd request. Georges' father, the Marquis de Lafayette, American hero of the Revolution, had returned to France after the war, and was serving in that nation's assembly when revolution broke out in France. The Marquis was one of the liberal members of that body, but as the revolution turned radical and finally fanatic, few were spared its terrors. Young Georges, quite obviously named after his father's idol from the American Revolution, was sent into hiding with his tutor, Felix Frestel (also named in this letter), in 1792. It was a good thing, as his grandmother and great-grandmother were guillotined in 1794. Because of his American connections, it was deemed unwise to execute his father, but the Marquis languished in prison for several years before a new government released him. Meanwhile, young Georges and his tutor escaped to America in 1795, and were placed under the care of his namesake, the President of the United States. This explains the request, as he went to live in Washington's house for part of his time in America. $1,500.
Joe Rubinfine may be reached at 321-455-1666 or Joerubinfine@mindspring.com.