Roosevelt Memorabilia Up for Auction
April 15, 2013 | by —Simona Rabinovitch | Homepage
“Dear little Miss Betty: That's a dear little note of yours. I am very sorry about your gallant cousin Dick, and I hope all your other kinsfolk who are at the front, fighting bravely, will come home to you safely. Your friend, Theodore Roosevelt.”
This special 1918 autograph letter signed by Theodore Roosevelt is one of 105 lots up for auction tomorrow, April 16 at 1:30 p.m., at Swann Auction Galleries’ Printed & Manuscript Americana Sale, of which 26th President Theodore Roosevelt is the star. Also featuring manuscripts, artifacts, and books (like a 1916 first edition of Washburn’s Theodore Roosevelt: The Logic of His Career, inscribed by Roosevelt to his cousin) the auction includes some very special personal items, like a family photo album of Roosevelt and his children between 1890 and 1910.
All the Roosevelt material up for auction comes from the collection of Peter Scanlan, an Albany-based collector who, explains Swann's Americana specialist, Rick Stattler, passed away last year at the age of 70. “He dedicated his entire life to collecting Teddy Roosevelt,” Stattler says. “It's basically the entire contents of Mr. Scanlan's three-room apartment. For people who collect Roosevelt, this is a big event.”
One particularly interesting item that's expected to fetch between $25,000 and $35,000 is a booklet entitled, In Memory of My Darling Wife Alice Hathaway Roosevelt and of My Beloved Mother Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, New York, 1884. “It's a book that Roosevelt wrote when his first wife died during childbirth, and his mother died on the same day,” says Stattler. “He was heartbroken by this, of course, and wrote this pamphlet in memory of his wife and mother, and he basically saw that as closing the chapter on his first wife and never really mentioned her much again. Even in his autobiography, he didn't mention that he'd been married before.”
This rare fusion of shared American history with intimate, personal narrative is sure to delight history buffs, Roosevelt fans, and collectors of Americana. And while part of his appeal is obvious, Roosevelt's allure goes beyond the traditional. “There are a lot of different points of access to Teddy Roosevelt,” Stattler points out. “There was a narrative about him being a sickly boy who willed himself into this physically imposing ‘gym rat’ kind of guy over the course of his life—when he decided he just wasn't going to be frail anymore and hit the gym and became this pretty intimidating figure. There's the angle of him being from this aristocratic family and then going west to operate a ranch in the Dakotas, which is pretty neat. His extended family was interesting in that his [fifth] cousin became president later and they were not really political allies either. And just his persona, he was this extremely decisive and active masculine guy, and I think a lot of people respond to that." 104 E. 25th St., 212-254-4710
Cover shoot: May/June 2014 issue of Gotham magazine.