Framed Autographs and Historical Documents
Raptis Rare Books maintains an extensive selection of framed autographs, manuscripts, signed and inscribed photographs, and historical documents.
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"unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!": Rare Mimeographed Sheets of The Howl Produced for its First Reading. Preceding the First Edition and signed by Ginsberg and five others present at the Six Gallery in October of 1955
Two sheets from an exceptionally rare privately produced mimeographed printing of Howl, preceding the first edition. One of 25 copies printed on rectos only in purple ink typed by the poet Robert Creeley and printed by Marthe Rexroth at S.F State, where she was a secretary, for the famous Six Gallery reading (also known as Six Angels in the Same Performance). This event, which took place at 3110 Fillmore Street in San Francisco on October 7, 1955 was the first important public poetry exhibition heralding the West Coast literary revolution of the Beat Generation. At the reading, five talented young poets—Allen Ginsberg, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen presented some of their latest works. They were introduced by Kenneth Rexroth, who was a kind of literary father-figure for the younger poets. It was at this reading that Allen Ginsberg performed the piece in public, which had been advertised by a postcard proclaiming: “Remarkable collection of angels all gathered at once in the same spot. Wine, music, dancing girls, serious poetry, free satori.” The exuberant audience included Neal Cassady, who passed around the wine jug and a collection plate and a drunken Jack Kerouac, who refused to read his own work but cheered the other poets on, and later wrote an account in his novel The Dharma Bums. He fictionalized the event with a description of circulating gallon jugs of California burgundy among the increasingly raucous crowd, “getting them all piffed so that by eleven o’clock when Alvah Goldbrook (Ginsberg’s stand-in in the novel) was reading his wailing poem ‘Wail’ (‘Howl’) drunk with arms outspread everybody was yelling ‘Go! Go! Go!’” Also in attendance was Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who telegrammed Ginsberg the following day offering to publish his work, saying ” I greet you at the beginning of a great career. When do I get the manuscript?” He published in 1956 through his City Lights Press, but customs agents seized Howl and Other Poems when it arrived from its London-based printer on grounds that it was indecent and obscene. Ferlinghetti and his store manager Shigeyoshi Murao were acquitted of the obscenity charges in October 1957. The title page is signed by Allen Ginsberg, with the signature and a note by Marthe Rexroth, which reads, “I cranked the ditto master at S F State the first time around -and! was at the reading.” On the verso of the title, McClure has written the lengthy note, “This first long poem of Allen’s was read at the Six Gallery in San Francisco in October 1955. I was 22 years old and gave my first reading also that night. I read a poem titled FOR THE DEATHS OF 100 WHALES and other poems of nature and new consciousness. Our co-readers that night were Whalen, Snyder, & Lamantia. Kenneth Rexroth was M.C. I met Jack Kerouac that night. The group of us – minus Lamantia – read again in Berkeley, March 1956, on a rainy evening. It was a fine evening for poetry and I remember my pleasure in Allen’s comic ‘America’. I read mostly from a huge notebook of experimental poems of consciousness. Michael McClure.” On the dedication page are the signatures of Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and an inscription by David Meltzer: ” When Allen first read Kaddish in SF, I read too. I was 22.” Double matted and framed, the entire piece measures 20 inches by 26 inches, with an opening in the back of the frame to view McClure’s statement. Only one other similar printing of this edition has surfaced, which fetched $118,750 at auction in 2013, although this copy did include all of the pages. An exceptionally rare item of this important work and cornerstone to American thought and culture.
Price: $35,000.00 Item Number: 40140
“I’VE JUST HAD THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE”: Exceptional letter signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich von Hayek
Exceptional letter signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich von Hayek. One page, on Thatcher’s official 10 Downing Street letterhead and dated May 22nd 1984, the letter reads, “Dear Professor Hayek,” I have it in mind on the occasion of the forthcoming list of Birthday Honours to submit your name to The Queen with a recommendation that Her Majesty may be graciously pleased to approve that you be appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour. I should be glad to know if this would be agreeable to you. I shall take no steps until I have your reply. “Yours sincerely, Margaret Thatcher.” Accompanied by a large original black and white photograph of Hayek taken at the honorary appointment at Buckingham Palace in which, he was in fact, awarded the Companion of Honour Medal by Queen Elizabeth II. In fine condition. Matted and framed, the entire piece measures 24.5 inches by 19 inches. An exceptional piece of history.
Price: $22,500.00 Item Number: 96254
Rare Society of the Cincinnati membership certificate signed by George Washington as president of the society of the Cincinnati
Philadelphia: May 5th, 1784.
Rare autograph document signed by George Washington as President of the Society of the Cincinnati during the first general meeting of the Society and 5 years prior to his election and inauguration as the first President of the United States of America. One page partially printed on vellum with engraved vignettes by Auguste L. Belle after Jean-Jacques Andre LeVeau depicting America in knight’s armor trampling upon the British standard and the American eagle casting the British lion and Britannia out to sea with thunderbolts, engraved seal of the Order of the Cincinnati. The document reads: Be it known that Lieutenant William Andrews is a member of the society of the Cincinnati instituted by the Officers of the American Army at the Period of Dissolution, as well to commemorate the great Event which gave Independence to North American, as for the laudable Purpose of inculcating the Duty of laying down in Peace Arms assumed for public Defence, and of uniting in Acts of brotherly Affection and Bonds of perpetual Friendship the Members constituting the same. In Testimony whereof I, the President of the said Society have hereunto set my hand at Philadelphia in Pennsylvania this fifth day of may in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Four and in the Eighth Year of the Independence of the United States. By Order, ” “H.Knox” Secretary “G. Wahsington” President. William Andrews was commissioned a lieutenant on 1 January 1777 with the Third Continental Artillery. His regiment wintered at Valley Forge, andthe following June, Andrews was captured and held by the British in New York until he was exchanged in September 1781. In fine condition. Double matted and framed with an engraved portrait of Washington. The entire piece measures 36 inches by 23 inches. An exceptional example.
Price: $22,500.00 Item Number: 101412
"All my time is now taken up with very pressing work and I can only hope for a more favourable opportunity": Exceptionally rare autograph note signed by Nikola Tesla
Rare autograph note signed by and entirely in the hand of brilliant inventor, Nikola Tesla. On Waldorf Astoria letterhead, the letter is dated December 2, 1904 and reads in full, “Dear Mrs. Dodge, Please accept my thanks for your kind thought. I’m very sorry to miss the pleasure yesterday. All my time is now taken up with very pressing work and I can only hope for a more favourable opportunity. Yours sincerely, N. Tesla.” From 1900 to 1922, Tesla resided at the Waldorf Astoria and made the rounds of New York looking for investors for what he thought would be a viable system of wireless transmission using electrical energy, wining and dining them at the hotel’s famed Palm Garden, Players Club and Delmonicos. In March of 1901, he was successful in obtaining $150,000 from J.P Morgan in return for a 51% share of any generated wireless patents and so began the race between Tesla and rival Guglielmo Marconi to develop the first wireless transmitter, a race Tesla would lose in December of that same year when Marconi successfully transmitted the letter ‘S’ from England to Newfoundland using a radio-based system. In fine condition. Exceptionally rare and desirable.
Price: $20,000.00 Item Number: 114948
"Though Keynes was a great thinker, his interest in theory was not for its own sake but 'as a base' for designing policy": One page signed and hand-corrected manuscript entirely in the hand of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman
One page signed and hand-corrected manuscript entirely in the hand of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman discussing Keynes’ The General Theory. Inscribed in the top right corner, “For Mark Gruber, Milton Friedman”, the manuscript reads, “Inflation, not unemployment, continued to be the major economic problem after the war, as it was during the war. Keynes’…flexibility would have led him to turn his attention increasingly to the themes of Monetary Reform which were far more relevant to the post-war decades than those of The General Theory and remain so today…Though Keynes was a great thinker, his interest in theory was not for its own sake but ‘as a base’ for designing policy.” Several lines crossed out and corrected in Friedman’s hand. Double matted and framed with a photographic portrait of Friedman. The letter measures 7 inches by 11 inches. The entire piece measures 17.5 inches by 20.5 inches. An important piece linking two of the greatest rivaling economists of the twentieth century, with the former’s critique of the latter’s magnum opus.
Price: $20,000.00 Item Number: 88180
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration”: Rare Nikola Tesla Autographed Letter Signed
Autographed letter signed by brilliant inventor, Nikola Tesla. The letter reads, “New York, July 30th, 1898. #46 & 48 E. Houston Str. Snowden Ward, Esq., Editor of the Photogram, 6 Faringdon Ave., London, Engl. Dear Sir:- I have your favor of July 23rd, and regret not to be able to oblige you in the matter at present. It will give me pleasure to comply with your request at the next favorable opportunity. Believe me to be, Yours very truly, N. Tesla.” The recipient, Snowden Ward was an English photographer and author, who produced several periodicals and technical handbooks on photography in collaboration with his wife, accomplished American photographer Catharine Weed Barnes. A photograph of Nikola Tesla’s hand was featured as the frontispiece to the August 1898 volume of The Photogram, annotated “The hand of Nikola Tesla, taken by his wonderful artificial daylight, just perfected. This is the first photograph made by the light of the future.” The following issue in September revisited the subject with an lengthy interview with Tesla in which he explained his experimentation with phosphorescent vacuum tube lights and photographic exposures in great detail. This correspondence was likely in regards to Tesla supplying this interview. Double matted and framed. The entire piece measures 18 inches by 22.5 inches. Letters signed by Tesla are rare.
Price: $20,000.00 Item Number: 65015
Original signed artwork from Thomas Merton. In the last decade of his life, while living as a hermit-monk in dialogue with the world, Thomas Merton created a body of visual art, drawing from the Zen Buddhist tradition. When he was a student at Columbia University, Merton sought out a Hindu monk named Bramachari for counsel. The monk advised Merton to follow his own Christian tradition to find what he was most deeply looking for. A strong admirer of Gandhi, Merton also noted how Gandhi, a Hindu, had found a congenial ‘ second home’ of sorts in the Christian Sermon on the Mount. In the 1950’s Merton began exploring Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism. He thought he found some resonance between Zen and the Desert Fathers. Merton sent a copy of his study of the Desert Fathers to Daisetsu Suzuki, the leading exponent of Zen in the west. They began a long correspondence in the late 1950’s, and Suzuki’s influence can be seen in Merton’s artwork. Includes a letter from activist W.H. Ferry, which reads, “4/3/68 For Mary Sue Dilliard: Daisetsu Suzuki told Father Tom Merton in 1965 that the only way finally to understand Zen was to practice calligraphy. This is the result: one of Tom’s earliest calligraphs. W.H. Ferry.” On the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions letterhead, which Ferry was the Vice President. Matted and framed, which measures 13 inches by 15 inches. Calligraphy drawing measures 9 inches by 12.5 inches. On the verso of the frame, it includes various Merton material including numerous clippings. Original artwork by Merton is exceptionally rare in the marketplace.
Price: $20,000.00 Item Number: 17032
“I’ve just had the happiest day of my life": Royal Companion of Honour Appointment: Presented to Friedrich von Hayek by Queen Elizabeth II and signed by her
Original Royal Companion of Honour Appointment presented to Friedrich von Hayek by Queen Elizabeth II. One page, with the Royal Companion of Honour Seal stamped in the upper right corner. Signed by Queen Elizabeth II at the head of the appointment, “Elizabeth R.” In fine condition.
Price: $20,000.00 Item Number: 100139
"I have been accepted in Boston University Graduate School as a regular student and a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Systematic Theology": Exceptionally Rare Autograph Letter Signed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. before beginning graduate studies at Boston University in 1951
Typescript autograph letter signed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. requesting housing upon his acceptance to Boston University Graduate School. The letter, dated June 15th 1951 and addressed to Dean Charles W. Alter, Boston University Graduate School, reads, “Dear Dean Alter, I have been accepted in Boston University Graduate School as a regular student and a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Systematic Theology. I am now interested in finding living accommodations on the campus, or at least very near by. A single room would be preferable. If such is possible I would appreciate having it reserved. I am also interested in applying for a graduate Fellowship. Please send me the necessary information at this point along with an application blank. Thanks in advance for your cooperation, I am Sincerely yours, Martin L. King, Jr.” King later recalled his experience with housing bias in 1951 Boston in an interview with the Boston Globe in 1965, “I remember very well trying to find a place to live. I went into place after place where there were signs that rooms were for rent. They were for rent until they found out I was a Negro, and suddenly they had just been rented.” Double matted and framed, with a photograph of a young King. The entire piece measures 14 inches by 21.75 inches. This letter offers an extraordinary glimpse into the education of the great African-American Civil Rights leader, exemplifying his own experiences with the systemic racism in 1950s American society.
Price: $18,500.00 Item Number: 82416
Rare Original Photograph of General Ulysses S. Grant Taken By Mathew Brady; Boldly Signed By Grant As President
Rare original Mathew Brady photograph of Ulysses S. Grant. Boldly signed by Grant as the 18th President of the United States, “U.S. Grant March 18th 1875.” One of the earliest photographers in American history, Mathew B. Brady brought home the reality of the Civil War to the American public with his innovative use of a mobile studio and darkroom to capture thousands of war scenes throughout the Civil War. Brady was also recognized as one of the premier photographic portraitists of the 19th century, taking photographs of numerous celebrities including Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Robert E. Lee among others. Double matted and framed. The entire piece measures 19 inches by 16.5 inches. In near fine condition. Rare and desirable with such a strong signature signed by Grant during his presidency.
Price: $18,500.00 Item Number: 94709
"I salute you with continual friendship & respect. Th. Jefferson”: one page autograph letter signed by thomas jefferson regarding his library
One page autograph letter signed by Thomas Jefferson regarding duties for a shipment of books for his second library at Monticello. Address to David Gelston, esq, who was the Collector of the Port of New York (appointed by Jefferson in 1801). The letter reads, “On my return home after some absence I found here your favors of Sept. 2 & 15. stating the amount of freight & duties on my books … Having no medium of remittance but in the bills of our banks I enclose 8.D presuming they are negotiable with you, and that the fractional surplus may cover their discount at market. I salute you with continual friendship & respect. Th. Jefferson.” The letter measures 9.75 inches by 7.75 inches. Matted and framed with a portrait.
Price: $17,500.00 Item Number: 26064
"I share entirely your view that it is vitally necessary for everyone in the Middle East to live in peace": Autograph Letter Signed by David Ben-Gurion
Autograph letter signed by the founder of modern day Israel and first prime minister David Ben-Gurion. It reads, “Sdeh. Boker, 28. 2. 70 Dear Mr. George P. Viegelmann, Jr. I share entirely your view that it is vitally necessary for everyone in the Middle East to live in peace. I am expressing a private view: I would be ready to give up a great Part of the areas which we hold since the six day war, if this would bring peace; by peace I mean friendship with our Arab neighbors and cooperation politically, economically and culturally, but perhaps only Russia can bring this about. I even doubt whether the American Gov. can achieve that. In the future there may be a change in Egypt. David Ben-Gurion.” This letter is a very unique piece of history, particularly in regards to Israeli-Arab relations and the study of peace in general. While publicly Ben-Gurion was the undoubted leader in Zionism, privately at the end of his life, he began to have other opinions. He desired peace even if it meant giving up land that they had fought to obtain. Ben-Gurion’s thoughts on peace in his latter years is corroborated by the recent documentary, Ben-Gurion, Epilogue. This movie features footage that was taken in 1968 and only recently discovered. In the footage he explains that Israel’s moral compass was inexorably tied to its treatment of the non-Jews living under its rule. Double matted and framed opposite a photograph of Ben-Gurion. The entire piece measures 15 inches by 16.5 inches.
Price: $16,000.00 Item Number: 82248
Rare Photographic Portrait of Robert E. Lee and his staff; Inscribed by Civil War Photographer Mathew Brady
Photographic portrait of General Robert E. Lee flanked by his son, General George Washington Custis Lee, on his right and Colonel Walter Taylor on his left. Inscribed by one of the earliest photographers in American history, Mathew Brady, on a mount, “To Col. Robert Alexander Compliments of his friend, M.B. Brady.” The photograph was taken at Lee’s estate in Richmond, Virginia in April of 1865, only days after his surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. This is one in a series taken by Brady in the basement below the back porch of the estate and from the original wet plates in the Brady-Handy collection. “This photograph is one of the most celebrated images produced by Brady, who established his reputation in the 1850s as the preeminent portraitist in New York and Washington, D.C. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Brady sought out General Robert E. Lee, who had returned to the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia, after his surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. At the photographer’s request General Lee reluctantly put on his uniform and posed at the back of his residence with his son, General George Washington Custis Lee (left), and his chief of staff, Colonel Walter H. Taylor (right). The image conveys the pathos of defeat for the Confederacy and for Lee personally. For Brady, who had been present at the first battle of the Civil War at Bull Run, this portrait completed his photographic coverage of the conflict” (WAM). Matted and framed. The entire piece measures 17 inches by 14 inches. An exceptional piece of Americana.
Price: $15,000.00 Item Number: 89011
Rare Presidential Commission appointing Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Dimaggio as a member of the Conference on Physical Fitness and Sports; signed by President Richard Nixon
Washington, D.C: 1970.
Rare Richard Nixon Presidential Commission appointing Baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio as a “Member of the Conference on Physical Fitness and Sports.” Dated September 25th, 1970 the appointment is signed by President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State William Rogers with the Presidential seal. Double matted and framed. In fine condition. From the personal collection of Joe DiMaggio. Included is letter of provenance from DiMaggio’s estate signed by his two granddaughters. An exceptional association linking two American icons. Double matted and framed.
Price: $15,000.00 Item Number: 95202
“Dear Barbara, you remind me of myself and I wish us both that you remain that way": Photograph of Ayn Rand; Inscribed by Her to Barbara Branden
Large signed photograph of Ayn Rand. Inscribed by her to Barbara Branden, “Dear Barbara, you remind me of myself and I wish us both that you remain that way – With love -Ayn June 21, 1951.” While living in New York during the early 1950’s, the recipient, Barbara, and her future husband, Nathaniel Branden, befriended Rand and her husband Frank O’Connor. Not only would the couple go on to become major proponents of Objectivism (establishing the Nathaniel Branden Institute in 1958 with Barbara serving as Rand’s assistant), but their personal lives would be dramatically intertwined with Rand’s. Begrudgingly sanctioned by both Barbara and Frank, Nathaniel began an affair with Ayn in 1954. The secret couple had a very public break in 1968, almost certainly due to Branden’s affair with actress Patrecia Scott who he later married. The photograph measures 8 inches by 10 inches. Matted and framed, which measures 17.5 inches by 19.5 inches. Photographs signed by Rand are rare.
Price: $15,000.00 Item Number: 73070
Rare large etching of Albert Einstein done by well-known artist Erich Buttner. Signed by both Einstein and Buttner. In fine condition. Double matted and framed, the entire piece measures 12.25 inches by 15 inches. An exceptional piece. In the 1920s he created a series of portraits of his friends and fellow artists including Lovis Corinth, George Grosz, Arno Holz and Heinrich Zille. He produced a very fine book of exlibris (bookplates) in Berlin 1921. This book contains the exlibris of Albert Einstein 1917, probably Einstein’s only bookplate. The etching measures 12.5 inches by 9.5 inches. Double matted and framed. The entire piece measures 18.75 inches by 15.75 inches.
Price: $14,000.00 Item Number: 112748
"Humanity is the same the world over in whatever garb or colour she may be clothed": Signed Photograph of Mahatma Gandhi
Rare signed photograph depicting Mohandas K. Gandhi in profile with his palms pressed together, inscribed in Gujarati (“[Truth at all costs]”) and signed in English M.K. Gandhi on the image in blue ink. With an autographed letter signed from Amrit Kaur, the secretary to Gandhi and later Health Minister of India, to Sgt. John McAleer, written on Gandhi’s behalf, enclosing the signed photograph and responding to his letter (“…Humanity is the same the world over in whatever garb or colour she may be clothed…”), 2 pages, Poona, 5 March 1946, with envelope; photograph of Gandhi and another in rickshaws being pulled by a ceremonial guard, stamped and inscribed “Bhullo chien Desia” on the reverse; and a newspaper cutting; altogether five items mounted and framed together. In very good condition with the inscription faded. Matted and framed, the entire piece measures 19.5 inches by 16.5 inches. A nice collection with noted provenance.
Price: $13,500.00 Item Number: 100048
Rare collection of Rough Riders Photographs and Documents; Twice signed and inscribed by Theodore Roosevelt
Rare collection of original signed documents and photographs taken during President Theodore Roosevelt’s days as Colonel of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, or Rough Riders. The collection includes an original mounted photograph of Roosevelt in full uniform with his campaign hat; two cabinet card photographs of Albert S. Johnson, a member of the Cavalry; an endorsement dated September 7, 1998 which reads in part, “This officer did not serve in Cuba but remained in Florida with the squadron left behind” signed, “T. Roosevelt” which is affixed to the verso of of Albert S. Johnson’s 5 September 1898 application for 60-days leave; and a military record discharging Johnson from the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry with remarks from Captain R.H. Bruce and Theodore Roosevelt, “Did not serve under me personally; is reported to me as a good and loyal officer. T. Roosevelt col 1st U.S.V.” Johnson’s application for leave was ultimately denied as his regiment was about to be disbanded and taken out of service. In near fine condition. An exceptional collection. Documents from Roosevelt’s Rough Rider days are rare.
Price: $12,500.00 Item Number: 95371
Military commission signed by Abraham Lincoln, Washington, August 1861. Folio on vellum with vignettes. Light wear along the folds. Countersigned by Simon Cameron. Matted and framed.
Price: $12,500.00 Item Number: 69020