Lot 4: Subscription for Portraits of the Presidents Signed by J. Q. Adams, Polk, Jackson, Buchanan, and Writers Dickens, Bryant and More!
23rd January 2020
Two Early American Ledgers for Subscriptions to the "Portraits of the Presidents," Signed by Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, James K. Polk, et al. circa 1842-1844. In 1842, Boston publisher Charles A. Wakefield published a steel engraving containing the portraits of all presidents from George Washington to John Tyler (who was the current president at the time), titled Portraits of the Presidents. Designed by C. H. H. Billings and engraved by D. Kimberly, the print was offered in two formats by the publisher: a "common impression" costing $. 50 and "proofs on India paper" costing $1. These two small books, measuring 4. 25" x 6. 75" (book one) and 4. 5" x 6. 75" (book two), contain the names of over 3,000 individuals who have subscribed to receive a copy of the print. To the right of each signature is a count of how many prints each person has ordered and whether payment has been rendered. In some cases, the person's location is next to the name. Most of the names in both books are divided up by state and town of residence. Notable subscribers are former presidents, Andrew Jackson (who has inscribed, "presented to me at the Hermitage this 13th day of March 1844") and John Quincy Adams; future presidents, James K. Polk and James Buchanan; former vice president, Robert M. Johnson; English author, Charles Dickens, and American poet, William Cullen Bryant; future secretary of state, William H. Seward; John Tyler's secretary of state, Daniel Webster; Supreme Court justice, Levi Woodbury; War of 1812 general and future secretary of state under President Buchanan, Lewis Cass; future congressman, Thaddeus Stevens; and many, many others. However, the signature of John Tyler, which is found on page one of the first book, is a secretarial. Also scattered throughout book one are newspaper clippings from around the country advertising the picture. Both books are bound in leather over boards with titles and decorative borders in gilt on the front and rear covers. Condition: Both books show the expected wear with lightly rubbed covers, bumped corners, and rubbing at the head and foot of the spines. The pages of both books show staining, toning, and, at times, chipped edges and water staining.
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