American History

American History is a semi-annual Live Salesroom Auction featuring everything from 19th century photography, political campaign ephemera, historical textiles, items associated with slavery and abolition, Lincolniana, the Civil War, social history, books, manuscripts and autographs, to flags and historical relics. Online-Only American History auctions also occur throughout the year.

We are always accepting consignments for upcoming American History auctions.Click here for our online consignment form.

Department Director

Katie Horstman, Director
Specialist

Contact Information
Contact Katie at 513-871-1670 x236 or email historic@cowans.com

Katie Horstman is a graduate of The University of Cincinnati with a Masters degree in Art History, where she explored the work of New York photographer, John Oliver Bowman. Working closely with Wes Cowan, Katie has been successfully leading the American History department for the past five years.

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[Dakota Territory] Six F. Jay Haynes Stereoviews of Fargo, Dakota Territory
Lot # 17 - [Dakota Territory] Six F. Jay Haynes Stereoviews of Fargo, Dakota Territory
Lot of 6 of Fargo, Dakota Territory by F. Jay Haynes. All show buildings and streets incl. 1st Nat'l Bank Block w/men posed in front; the square w/bandstand & business bldgs.; Main St.; Broadway; Up Broadway from railroad crossing (in foreground & Front Street. 5 on yellow cabinet mts and 1 on buff regular size mt.
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Three CDVs of 2nd Maine Soldiers
Lot # 36 - Three CDVs of 2nd Maine Soldiers
Including a dated "1880" view of Quartermaster Chas. R. Lord in civilian dress with a early war likeness tentatively identified as Pvt. Greenlief C. Rogers who served in the 2nd Me. (discharged 11/62) and the 31st Me. (discharged 7/65).  Also, a sharp portrait of an unidentified 2nd Lieut. from the 2nd Maine with J.B. Kendee, Augusta imprint.
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[Civil War - Autographs] Gideon Wells, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, War-Date LS, 1862 
Lot # 78 - [Civil War - Autographs] Gideon Wells, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, War-Date LS, 1862 
Welles, Gideon (1802-1878). Secretary of the Navy under Presidents Lincoln and Johnson (1861-69), largely responsible for the successful strategies of the Union Navy in the Civil War. LS as Secretary of the Navy, 1p, November 16, 1862, at Navy Department, Washington, addressed to Commodore Theodorus Bailey, U.S. Navy, New York, authorizing him to hire a clerk and ordering him to report in person to the Navy Department. Mileage paid for reporting to Washington noted in left margin.
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Louisville KY Scraffito Incised Stoneware Whiskey Jug
Lot # 171 - Louisville KY Scraffito Incised Stoneware Whiskey Jug
American. An Albany slip stoneware whiskey jug incised on side Louis Zapp & Co., Pure Wines & Liquors, 319 W. Market St., Louisville, KY; ht. 9 in.
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Daguerreotype, Ambrotype, & Tintype Portraits of Parents with Their Children
Lot # 286 - Daguerreotype, Ambrotype, & Tintype Portraits of Parents with Their Children
One sixth plate tintype of a father with his son. The rest are mothers and daughters. One vertical ambrotype of a mother an daughter with braided hair. Black backing starting to bubble. Horizontal tintype of a mother with two daughters  (ca 3 and 5 yrs). Double sixth plate geometric Union case, with two daguerreotypes. On has an older woman and teen-aged girl, the other a young adult woman. They appear to be related, but it is not clear how (second woman could be an older sister?). A ninth plate tintype shows a young mother with a baby on her lap (probably a daughter given the bracelet the infant is wearing). Plus two gem-sized images, one a dag of a toddler or young child, clearly being supported on an adult's lap, but not much of the adult is visible. The second is also a toddler girl, but the only adult "parts" in this image is a hand.
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[Cases] Three Mother of Pearl Inlaid Cases
Lot # 294 - [Cases] Three Mother of Pearl Inlaid Cases
Lot of 3 mother of pearl inlaid book-form cases with gilt highlights, including a sixth plate case housing a daguerreotype of a gentleman, another sixth plate case housing an ambrotype of a couple, and a ninth plate case, not containing an image.
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Grover Cleveland & Thomas Hendricks, Inaugural Ball Invitation, 1885
Lot # 243 - Grover Cleveland & Thomas Hendricks, Inaugural Ball Invitation, 1885
Printed invitation to Cleveland and Hendricks' Inaugural ball, 6.75 x 9.25 in., mounted along with a signature of Hendricks immediately below, 1.25 x 5.5 in. The invitation, which is complete (but partially obscured by a blue overlay), and signature are mounted to a backing, which is for viewing purposes but can be easily removed.
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US Binoculars WWI and WWII
Lot # 130 - US Binoculars WWI and WWII
Lot includes US WWII Navy 7x50 power binoculars, made by the Square D Co. and dated 1944. The second pair are German WWI relics right out of the trenches.
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Civil War Archive of William Hobbs, 70th Indiana Infantry
Lot # 63 - Civil War Archive of William Hobbs, 70th Indiana Infantry
35 items (29 soldier’s letters), 1862-1865.

A soldier in the 70th Indiana, William Hobbs, wrote home regularly to his family to keep them up apprised of his experiences in the Civil War. Despite being an invading army in enemy territory, Hobbs’s experiences during the first year and a half of his service were comparatively easy, as the 70th saw only light action in the rear guard, performing a vital, but unglamorous service guarding railroads, mostly in Tennessee. In a solid correspondence, mostly addressed to his younger brother Perry, William provides engaging descriptions of his Civil War experiences, the boredom of camp life and excitement of battle, the ebb and flow of morale, and the frustrations of politics and southern people. Throughout, William keeps a hand in the business at home, providing friendly advice to his younger brother on everything from the price of hogs to farming and family relations.

For the first half of his service, the 70th Indiana was seldom engaged in large-scale affairs, and at Gallatin, Tenn., Dec 18, 1862, Hobbs described the most common kind of danger the men encountered: The other day 3 of us boys got tired of old bed and we thought we must have a pig and we went out side of the pickets and killed one and the Colonel saw us at it and after we ate the pig up, he put us in the guard house for a while. I don’t mind it much only the name of it. No more about that... Yet despite his relatively easy time of it, Hobbs was no less inclined to tolerate the numerous Confederate sympathizers back home. Still at Gallatin, Tenn., on Feb 4, 1863, he wrote to his younger brother Perry: I hope they will kill every infernal lowlife Rebel in the State. I hope to God they will kill Brady the first one. Clean out the leaders first. But when it came to sending his brother into the army, William was adamant: Perry you said in your letter that you were going to enlist with Tom. If you know what is best for you, you had better stay at home and Father.... You cannot stand it in the army. The other day the scouts out of our regiment was out scouting the other night. They went up to a house and went in and found a Rebel colonel and a Captain and a Private at home. They make them give up their arms. They had many revolvers. They have got them locked in prison, we will not let them fellows go, I will bet on that...

Among William’s greatest concerns at Gallatin and then Nashville, were the stream of rumors about where they would next be sent and the ever-present prospect of taking ill: Perry the smallpox is verry bad at this place, he wrote from Nashville on Nov. 14, 1863, there is not many in our regiment taken it yet. They has been a great many died with it at this place But I think it will be checked before long. Perry we had a big sham battle to day. I tell you now it was nice to hear the roaring of cannon and musketry and the brass bands playing... They had a glimpse of a real a month later: I did not know but you would think we was in the fight at Murfrees Boro -- the 70th was not in the battle but we would have like to been in it we were in 14 miles of the place where they were fighting we heard loud roaring of the Cannon and guns During the fight we got Dayly news from there every day we read about the men falling on both sides. It was terrible to think about and after the battle was over to read about it. It was worse yet that was the greattest slaughter that has ever been yet. They was a great many boys in that battle that I new...

In the following spring, Hobbs and the men of the 70th Indiana became part of the massive movement against Atlanta, and the collection includes a handful of letters written during that time. On Aug. 28, 1864, Hobbs described the scene on the Chattahoochee River with a confidence born of constant success: We got orders to fall back across the river and so I could not write to you. I guess it was all the better. Falling back here was done in order to draw the Rebs out of Atlanta after us, so that our right could swing around in the rear of Atlanta, but I guess they are not going to come out very far for fear that they will be gobbled up.... Perry, there is a good deal of talk about going home to vote. I do not know how to think about it. I do hope it is so, for I would like to clean out some of them copperheads. In another letter from November, written near Atlanta, he again showed confidence in the face of enemy advance: The Rebs are trying to attact us here. Again heavy cannoning were heard this morning in the city. The report is that they are trying to take Atlanta again. We are lying 6 miles from Atlanta... As the regiment continued on the March to the Sea, they did sustain casualties. At Hardeeville, Ga., Jan 7, 1865, William wrote with sad news: Well Perry I am sorry to say this morning that Anderson Fowler is Dead. I saw him the Day Before he Died he talked sensible then he told me that he was going to die and talked of home. I talked to him and every thing I could to encourage him, but it would not do any good...

The Hobbs collection includes a small number of post-war letters including a boy’s letter from Iowa mentioning that his father had killed two quails and four rabbits (includes two drawings of birds on the back); also a letter from a young man named John with a classic complaint: Perry you said Katie was going to kick my ass, don’t you think she will have to reach for it. You know it is high up if we cant go up there we can stop at Van Sickles and get a drink. I could have fun with the girls here if I had a good fellow to run with. You know I am too darned bashful when I am alone...

A classic of rough-hewn writing from a typical western soldier. Some interesting illustrated letterheads and envelopes accompany many letters. Expected wear and tear with minor soiling and weak folds on some letters.
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Peter Cooper Signed Inscription
Lot # 52 - Peter Cooper Signed Inscription
Yours with great respect, with date 9 Feb. 1864, on 2 x 5 in. piece of paper laid down on a lithograph of Cooper with facsimile signature.

Peter Cooper was born in 1791 in New York City. He had little formal schooling but served a number of apprenticeships. He is credited with the design and construction of the first locomotive in the U.S., the Tom Thumb. He later patented (#4084) the first powdered gelatin product, later known as Jell-O. He was also involved in the laying of the first transatlantic cable. An abolitionist, Cooper supported the Union cause during the Civil War. This extended to Indian reform issues in the 1870s. He sponsored several delegations of Indians to Washington, DC to attempt to eliminate warfare in the Western territories. Cooper was encouraged to run for President in 1876 as the delegate of the Greenback Party, with no expectation of winning. He did, however, become, at 85, the oldest nominee of any political party. Cooper died in 1883 at the age of 92. In 2006 he was elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
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[Famous People-Prince Henry] Lot of 15 Stereoviews
Lot # 144 - [Famous People-Prince Henry] Lot of 15 Stereoviews
Lot of 15 of Prussia's Prince Henry 1902 visit to the United States. H.C. White portrait of Prince Henry, members of his suite and Reception Committe on the bridge of "Deustchland." 3 B.W. Kilburn views--#14862 Crowds on shore and in boats welcome Prince Henry to New York; #14865 Head-on view of locomotive of his special train and #14881 Prince Henry by his carriage with helmeted Philadelphia policeman. 2 by American Stereoscopic Co.--The prince entering carriage after visit to Cramp's Shipyards, Philadelphia and in his carriage with Admiral Evans, Washington, DC; Lot of 9 by Henry Strohmeyer (Underwood & Underwood) Prince Henry by locomotive and in cab of locomotive of his special train; his Special Train ready to leave on Western Tour; Prince & party on rear platform of his private car "Columbia," 2 of Prince Henry with crew of locomotive by driving wheels (plus duplicate); Henry Strohmeyer next to Prince Henry by locomotive; and Prince in carriage leaving German Embassy, Washington. Gray and buff curved mounts.
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George Catlin, <i>The North American Indians</i>, 2 Volume Set
Lot # 360 - George Catlin, The North American Indians, 2 Volume Set
Catlin, George.  Illustrations of the Manners, Customs, & Condition of the North American Indians.  Vols. I-II of II.  London: Chatto & Windus, 1876.  4to, gilt imprinted red buckram boards.  264pp and 265pp, plus 360 colored engravings from the author's original paintings.
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[Civil War] Miscellaneous Stereoviews of Union Gun Batteries and Earthworks
Lot # 148 - [Civil War] Miscellaneous Stereoviews of Union Gun Batteries and Earthworks
Lot of 6 E.&H.T Anthony views from Brady negatives, each on yellow Photographic History / The War For The Union mounts with Anthony's pale blue printed paper label applied to verso, including the titles: No. 2310 / Loading a Big Gun, Fort Corcoran, Va.(partial three cent revenue stamp on label); No. 2312 / Scene in Ft. Totten, near Washington; aiming and working the Great Guns.(three cent revenue stamp on label); No. 2313 / Interior of Ft. Totten, Va.(typed paper title glued to recto); No. 2493 / Negro Camp, 27th Regiment Ohio Colored Troops before Petersburgh, Va.(typed paper title glued to recto); No. 3344 / Interior of the Rebel Fort Darling, James River, near Richmond, Va.; and No. 3354 / Ruins of the Southern Express Office, Richmond, Va.
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Stereoviews of Florida Scenery
Lot # 176 - Stereoviews of Florida Scenery
Lot of 6 on America Illustrated / Tropical Series mounts, titled in the negatives: Date Palm at Res. of M.J. Brown Esq., Mandarin; No. 65 The Arbor, Ocklawaha; Palmettos; Cypress Swamp; Ocklawaha River; and No. 58 Rogers Cut, Ocklawaha River.  All with verso hand stamp of Stockton's News Agent, Jacksonville, Fla.
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Confederate General James Dearing, CDV
Lot # 22 - Confederate General James Dearing, CDV
Vignetted copy photograph of CSA General James Dearing, identified in ink below portrait, no backmark.

Dearing (1840-1865), born in Campbell County, VA, enlisted as a captain in Lynchburg, VA, in April of 1861, and was commissioned into Company D of the Virginia 38th Battn. Heavy Artillery. He was promoted to major 5/63; lt. colonel, commanding Horse Artillery of Army of Northern Virginia 2/64; and brigadier general commanding Laurel Brigade 2/64. At the Battle of High Bridge on April 6, 1865, Dearing was shot in the chest in a pistol fight with Union Colonels Theodore Read and Francis Washburn. He later died of his wounds on April 22, after the surrender and after being pardoned by a former West Point classmate, making Dearing one of the final officer casualties of the war.
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The Picture of Dorian Gray, Signed and Numbered
Lot # 106 - The Picture of Dorian Gray, Signed and Numbered
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. London: Ward, Locke & Co., 1891. 8vo (7.5 x 9 in.), vellum-backed grey beveled boards with gilt stamping in stylized butterfly devices designed by Charles Ricketts; on Van Gelder paper; top edge gilt, others uncut. Half-title and title with decorative lettering also designed by Ricketts. Numbered 192 of 250 and signed by Wilde on limitation page.
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<i>Harper's Weekly</i> and <i>Leslie Illustrated Newspaper</i> Civil War-Era and Beyond Issues Featuring African Americans
Lot # 108 - Harper's Weekly and Leslie Illustrated Newspaper Civil War-Era and Beyond Issues Featuring African Americans
Lot of approximately 8 issues of Harper's Weekly and Leslie Illustrated Newspaper featuring scenes with African Americans. Images of particular interest include: an April 22, 1865 edition with an emotional scene of African Americans and Caucasians cheering an appreciative Lincoln through the streets of Richmond; a front cover with Civil War officers standing with an African-American soldier; and some negative depictions of African-American politicians during Reconstruction.
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Lot of 7 Purdy Books, Most Foreign Language
Lot # 246 - Lot of 7 Purdy Books, Most Foreign Language
In the early years, Purdy found more acceptance in Europe than in the United States. He was more than a little cynical about the "liberal" New York literati who were offended by his vernacular style and "outsider" characters. Purdy's work was translated into over 30 languages. This group contains three titles in Danish and two in Italian.

Purdy, James. 63: Palazzo del Sogno (63: Dream Palace). Torino (Italy): Einaudi, 1960. 12mo, printed stiff paper with cloth spine. In Italian.

_________. 63: Drommeslottet (63: Dream Palace). Fredensborg: Arena, n.d. (ca 1960). 8vo, printed paper wraps; pages partially uncut. In Danish.

_______. Color of Darkness. A New Directions Book, 1957, 1956. Second edition of 63: Dream Palace with some added material, and dedicated to Dame Edith Sitwell. 8vo, w/dj. This copy inscribed and signed on ffep: With sincere good wishes / from James Purdy. Minor scuffing and toning of dj; minor wear to spine ends.

_______. Color of Darkness. London: Four Square, 1957, 1956. 12mo, paperback. Moderate toning of pages and spine.

______.Malcolm. Fredensborg: Arena, 1962. 8vo, printed paper wraps; pages not cut. In Danish.

_________. Nevoen. (The Nephew) Fredensborg: Arena, 1961. 8vo, printed paper wraps; pages not cut. In Danish.

___________. Il nipote (The Nephew). Torino (Italy): Einaudi, 1963. 12mo, w/dj. In Italian. Inscribed and signed on ffep: For Darrell with love from James. Some toning of dj.
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[Maryland] Group of Nine Stereoviews
Lot # 53 - [Maryland] Group of Nine Stereoviews
Lot of 9 of Maryland including two early E. Anthony views, #47 "The Battle Monument at Baltimore;" & #186 "Viaduct near Baltimore on the Baltimore & Ohio Rail Road;" anonymous view of a steamer at Druid Lake, Baltimore; H. Ropes & Co. #124 "Dummy Station at Council Grove, Druid Park, Baltimore;" scarce late Anthony #11073 "Baltimore and Potomac R.R. Depot;" Burchard notes on verso "Clock still to be installed." Two scarce views of Anapolis incl. W.M. Chase of midshipmen on gun deck of training ship and a copy view of midshipmen w/cannon in front of barracks. Finally two Western Maryland views on B.&O. R.R., Bishop Bros. #110 "2nd Trestling" over Cheat River and W.M. Chase of a bridge w/mzarker "300 to B" (I presume 300 miles to Baltimore). Can not read pencilled manuscript title. Various flat mounts.
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[Central & Union Pacific Railroads] Group of 17 Miscellaneous CPRR & UPRR Stereoviews
Lot # 115 - [Central & Union Pacific Railroads] Group of 17 Miscellaneous CPRR & UPRR Stereoviews
Lot of 17 Central Pacific & Union Pacific views by various makers incl. a few pirated copies from the 1870s & 1 from U&U in the 1880s. Incl. Carter (not a copy) of work crew on handcar at 1,000 Mile Tree, Weber Canyon; 2 C.L. Pond (not copies)#s663 & 664,snowshed interiors, 1 w/locomotive; John P. Soule (from Hazeltine neg)Bridge at Sacramento w/cars; 2 J.J. Reilly (not copies)1,000 Mile Tree + double exposure of locomotives, Santa Cruz narrow guage; Houseworth (not a copy) overview of Virginia City; 2 A.A. Hart (not copies), both damaged; C.W. Thorne (not a copy) Summit Station, Sierra Nevadas; the following all copies, mostly better quality C. Bierstadt "Weber Canon" bridge; Snow Sheds, U.P.R.R.; Ogden City, Utah; Tunnel No. 3, Upper Weber Canyon shows surveyor w/tripod & photo equipment; Bear River Valley near Gold Run, U.P.R.R.; U&U of Hanging Rock, U.P.R.R. & L.G. Strand of head-on locomotive (torn betw prts & rebacked repaired.
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