STOCKHOLMIA 2019 Private Treaty Sale

Lot 62

United States, 1839-68, William H. Seward. A wonderful array of material spanning nearly the entirety of Seward's political career

The collection offered here consists of a broad range of engravings, covers and letters. Three engraved portraits, one noted "320 American Bank Note Co." and sunk on card, portray Seward while Secretary of State, two formal profiles, one at his desk with papers strewn about him. There is also an early cabinet photo of the Secretary.

From his governorship, we find a letter certifying that Giles F. Yates was a Surrogate of Schenectady County (on the reverse of a probate confirmation). There is an 8-page transcript of Senator Seward's July 29, 1852, speech entitled "The Whale Fishery, and American Commerce in the Pacific Ocean"—with references to King Alfred, the Phoenicians and Nimrod! And we have a Department of State affidavit (with paper seal and ribbons) confirming that WJ Stillman was US Consul at Rome, attached to a land transfer deed executed before him.

Covers and letters consists of numerous signature free franks, as Governor (2), Senator (7) and Secretary of State (4)…plus two that cannot be dated. Highlights include a January 14, 1864, letter to Major General [Henry W.] Halleck, stating the bearer would "introduce you to Mr. Sutton [?] who has confidential revelations to make about the strength and disposition of the rebels in Texas"; a December 30, 1867, letter to J. Glancy Jones of Reading, PA, regarding the Alaska Purchase and (reading between the lines) Seward's attempt to gain British Columbia for the US as well; an 1868 letter to President Johnson regarding Department of State officials whose commissions needed confirmed; and most amazingly, a September 7, 1865, Department of State cover and enclosure, both black-edged as a national mourning cover.

Collateral material counts a US Senate free frank of Daniel Webster, plus an 1818 lettersheet from James Ross, a Royal Navy captain who attempted to discover the Northwest Passage. Also featured is a Department of State free frank from Frank W. Seward, Assistant Secretary—and William's son, appointed at the same time as his father.

This is no folly—just a remarkable collection that would be impossible to duplicate today.

* * *

Seward (1801-72) was educated as a lawyer and was elected New York State Senator in 1830. He served as Governor of New York from 1839-42 and was elected to the US Senate in 1848, serving from 1849-61. He was considered the leading contender for the Republican Presidential nomination in the 1860 race, but his outspoken views against slavery, support for immigration and Catholics, and ties to political boss Thurlow Weed worked against him. While he lost the nomination to Abraham Lincoln, he supported Lincoln in the general election and was appointed Secretary of State, in which capacity he served from 1861 to 1869, under both Lincoln and Johnson.

Most famous for the Alaska Purchase in 1867, he was also instrumental in preventing Britain and France from involving themselves in the US Civil War in support of the Confederacy, thus doing as much as Grant or any other Union general in keeping the country intact.

Price: $25,000; £19,600; €21,275; 250,000 SEK; HK$195,000.

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