Lot 210: Incredible scrapbook compiled circa 1830s by Elvira Loraine Foster Smith, approximately 80 pages, 8.5 x 13.5, containing 49 clipped signatures affixed throughout, a large fabric swatch attributed to Martha Washington's dress per a contemporary notation, a relic from the St. Vrain Massacre of the Black Hawk War, and dozens of period engravings and ephemera as typically found in such collections. The signatures affixed within represent a wide swath of significant early American figures, including: David Crockett, "D. Crockett"; Sam Houston, "Truly & sincerely thy friend, Sam Houston"; Daniel Webster, "Danl Webster, US Senate"; John C. Calhoun, "J. C. Calhoun"; Timothy Pickering, "Timothy Pickering, Secy of War"; Winfield Scott, "Yr friend Winfield Scott"; and others such as Rufus King, William Eaton, Lewis Cass, William Dayton, William G. Belknap, and John Howard Payne. The swatch of fabric attributed to Martha Washington measures 2.5 x 2 and is a deep maroon with dark stripes and a floral pattern, identified above with a period pencil notation, "Part of a dress of the late Mrs. Gen. Washington." The relic of the St. Vrain Massacre is the address panel of a letter to Elvira Smith being carried by US Indian agent Felix St. Vrain when he was killed during a mission to deliver dispatches from Dixon's Ferry to Galena. The panel bears a lengthy period notation, reading: "This is a piece of a letter sent from Dixon's ferry during the 'Sac War,' by the hands of Mr. F. St. Vrain...Mr. St. Vrain was killed by the Indians, on his way home, and this letter, with others taken from his pocket and kept by the Indian throughout the campaign. At the battle of Ioway (2d Aug. 1832) the Indian was killed, and this letter found in his pack, and returned, on the spot, to Capt. Smith." The engravings affixed throughout, some of which are hand-colored, depict a wide variety of subjects including plants, animals, places, and historical figures. In very good condition, with brittle pages, chips, tears, and paper loss to edges, and scattered toning and soiling. Housed in a gorgeous custom-made slipcase which includes an inlaid copy of the scrapbook's title page on the front (original is included but detached from binding).
Smith is identified as the owner on a detached page with ornate calligraphy, "The Scrap Book, Elvira F. Smith...Jefferson Barracks: February 12, 1830." Smith was the wife of infantry officer Henry Smith, who was stationed at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, from 1830 to 1832. Henry Smith graduated from West Point in 1815 and served throughout the country, including positions as quartermaster in New York, Green Bay, Michigan, and Arkansas, as well as aide-de-camp to General Winfield Scott. Though not known for certain, the majority of the signatures collected by Elvira Smith were probably clipped from letters to Mr. Smith. With a diverse array of scarce autographs and numerous hard-to-find engravings, this is a truly remarkable and undoubtedly unique historical scrapbook.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs & Artifacts
Friday, 23rd October 2015
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