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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<i>Lincoln and Generals in Council before Richmond</i> CDV
Lot # 2191 - Lincoln and Generals in Council before Richmond CDV
CDV of "Lincoln and Generals in Council before Richmond," a fantasy composition based on an engraving.
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[Aviation] India & Pakistan and South Africa / Pan American World Airways Travel Posters 
Lot # 378 - [Aviation] India & Pakistan and South Africa / Pan American World Airways Travel Posters 
Lot of 2 posters, including: Fly to India and Pakistan by Clipper / Pan American World Airways / The World's Most Experienced Airline, designer unknown, ca 1950, 28 x 42 in.; and South Africa by Clipper / Pan American World Airways / World's Most Experienced Airline, copyrighted lower left 1951 Pan American World Airways, Inc., 28 x 42 in. Previously collected by Dorothy Koelbel, who worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Koelbel collected posters while traveling across the country for studio photo shoots.
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Cabinet Photographs of the Dalton Gang in Death, Group of Five
Lot # 391 - Cabinet Photographs of the Dalton Gang in Death, Group of Five
Lot of 5 cabinet cards of the Dalton Gang following their failed raid in Coffeyville, KS, October 5, 1892. Included are postmortems of Bob Dalton, Grat Dalton, Bill Power, and Dick Broadwell, plus a view of the seriously wounded Emmett Dalton. Bob's is a print pasted over another photograph by Coffeyville photographer Tackett, while the others are silver gelatin copy prints on unmarked cabinet mounts.

The Dalton boys -- Bob, Grat, Emmett and Frank -- grew up leading a hard-scrabble existence in Missouri, Indian Territory and Kansas, four of a family of thirteen children. Early in their adulthood Frank, Bob and Grat served briefly as Deputy Marshals in Indian Territory and Fort Smith, AR. Frank, described by many as many as an outstanding peace officer, was killed on November 27, 1887 while attempting to arrest a horse-thief.  Not long afterward, Bob and Grat turned away from the law to a criminal career.

For a brief two year span between 1890-1892, Bob and Grat, along with baby brother Emmett, rustled cattle and other livestock, robbed a number of trains, and killed an unknown number of men in their escapades. Vowing to outdo Jesse James, Bob planned the robbery of two banks at once in the sleepy town of Coffeyville, KS. On October 5, 1892, wearing disguises, the Dalton brothers and accomplices Bill Powers, Dick Grattan and Dick Broadwell rode into town intent on pulling the double heist. Caught in the act by an alert citizen who warned other townspeople, the gang soon found itself caught in a withering hail of bullets. All but Emmett were killed, along with four Coffeyville residents, including Marshal Charles T. Connelly. Emmett survived despite 23 gunshot wounds and went on to a career in acting and real estate after serving 14 years for the crime.

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[Western Town Photographs] Mason City, Nebraska Large Format Photographs, Including Storefronts 
Lot # 260 - [Western Town Photographs] Mason City, Nebraska Large Format Photographs, Including Storefronts 
Lot of 4 photographs, each 7.5" x 9.25" albumen prints on anonymous 10" x 12" mounts, offering views of Mason City, Nebraska, ca 1880s, including a panorama from a bluff overlooking the town, a view down Main Street to the plains beyond, and two views of storefronts with employees and Mason City residents posed outside, in front of two grocery stores, a drugstore/bookstore, a harness shop and a transcript office.
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Seven Postmortem Ambrotypes of Children
Lot # 52 - Seven Postmortem Ambrotypes of Children
Lot of 7 sixth plate postmortem ambrotypes of infants and young children. Two housed in floral Union cases, the rest in simple leather or pressed-paper cases.  The image at top right of infant posed with tinted flowers has a partly faded identification under the plate, dated 1856 at Zanesville, Ohio.  the image at top left is under a mat stamp Cargo, for Pittsburgh photographs John and Robert M. Cargo.
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Unusual Souvenir Check Referencing Jesse & Frank James
Lot # 446 - Unusual Souvenir Check Referencing Jesse & Frank James
3.75 x 8.5 in., with "Office of Frank Millard & Co." across top, preprinted for Burlington, Iowa. Vignette of Liberty leaning on anchor on left. Written as a bank check, with date of 31 Aug. 1882, At Sight Pay to the order of William Hudson Seven Hundred Dollars.... Then in notation at bottom, To Jesse James / Frank James / Lawrence Kan. / Per Gov. Crittenden.

All of these are references to significant events in the "career" of the James brothers, but none occurred together. (Presumably the payee was the purchaser of the souvenir.)  The reference to Lawrence, Kansas refers to the brothers' activity in the Civil War, after they joined William Clarke Quantrill's band of "irregular" Confederates (most Union and even some Confederates just considered them terrorists), and (among other actions) massacred some 200 men and boys in the town of Lawrence.

Thomas Crittenden was the governor of Missouri 1881-1885. After the James-Younger gang was broken up, and most of the Youngers arrested, Jesse and Frank formed a new gang that included the Ford brothers, Charley and Bob. In 1881 they returned to Missouri, the James' home state in which they felt relatively safe. Frank shortly after decided to separate and moved to Virginia - far away from the areas where they had been active criminals.

With Jesse left alone, he only trusted the Ford brothers. However, hoping to collect the $5000 reward that had been contributed by various railroad and express companies for the capture of the James gang, it is believed Bob Ford entered into negotiations with Thomas Crittenden. On 3 April 1882, Bob saw his opportunity when Jesse removed his gun rig and jacket in the spring heat, and turned his back to straighten or clean a picture on the wall. Bob Ford shot Jesse in the back of the head. The Fords were arrested, indicted, pleaded guilty, sentenced to death and, within two hours, pardoned by Governor Crittenden, suggesting he knew about the plan to kill rather than capture James. (unfortunately, two lawmen, a sheriff and a marshal took most of the reward money, giving the Fords only a small portion.) Bob Ford himself was shot just a decade later while operating a tent saloon in Creede, Colorado.
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American Admiral & Chief of Staff to FDR, William D. Leahy, ANS Plus
Lot # 78 - American Admiral & Chief of Staff to FDR, William D. Leahy, ANS Plus
Lot of 5 items related to Admiral William D. Leahy (1875-1959), the Chief of Staff to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The lot includes an ALS from Leahy on White house stationery; a personal ALS from Leahy's brother John to their "Dear sister Margret;" an invitation from the Naval Cadets for a "Series of Winter Hops;" two envelopes addressed to Margret; and a newspaper clipping with photographs of Leahy.
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[Colorado] Three Albumen Views of Colorado Springs
Lot # 211 - [Colorado] Three Albumen Views of Colorado Springs
Lot of 3. Imprinted on recto margins, The W.E. Hook Wholesale View Co. / Colorado Springs. Views include 1263 Glenwood Springs; 1527 Vapor Bath House, Glenwood Springs; 1265 The Colorado and Swimming Pool, Glenwood Springs. Ivory albumen mounts with rounded corners.
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U.S. Federal Judge Signed Postage Stamps
Lot # 81 - U.S. Federal Judge Signed Postage Stamps
Lot of 3, including:

Warren, Earl (1891-1974). Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1953-69) and two-term Governor of California (1943-53). A 1950 issue U.S. three cent stamp commemorating the sesquicentennial of the establishment of Washington as the national capital, featuring the Supreme Court building, signed in blue ink.

Douglas, William Orville (1898-1980) Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for over 36 years (the longest term of any justice). A stamp identical to the first, signed in blue ink.

Hand, Billings Learned (1872-1961). U.S. District Court and Circuit Court judge whose decisions have been cited by the Supreme Court more than any other judge. A sheet of four 1953 U.S. three cent American Bar Association stamps, each signed Learned Hand in black ink.
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Civil War Albumen Photographs of the Staffs of the USS <i>Pocahontas</i> and <i>Powhatan</i>
Lot # 151 - Civil War Albumen Photographs of the Staffs of the USS Pocahontas and Powhatan
Lot of 2, including a composite albumen photograph of 31 officers and crew of the USS Powhatan, uncredited, mounted to 10 x 12 in., and an albumen photograph of the Deck of U.S. Steamer Pocahontas, April 15, 1862, published by H.P. Moore of Concord, NH, mounted to 10.5 x 13.5 in.
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Miscellaneous Stereoviews and Viewer
Lot # 172 - Miscellaneous Stereoviews and Viewer
Lot includes viewer and 35 stereoviews:

Viewer is an Underwood & Underwood Sun Sculpture viewer with 1901 patent.

Views include:

8 Underwood & Underwood and Keystone views of Egypt, including the Sphinx, Nile, and Cairo.

15 U&U and Keystone views of Palestine, including Jerusalem, Nazareth, Ramallah, and Hebron.

4 Keystone views of Syria, including Damascus and Baalbek.

3 U&U views of Africa, including Kilimanjaro and a Kikuyu bridal purchase.

2 U&U views of India, including the Taj Mahal and the Maharaja of Gwalior.

3 Griffith & Griffith views, of Monte Carlo, Jerusalem, and Cuba.
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WWI Patriotic Silk Bandana
Two Tintypes of a Well-Dressed Young African American Gentleman, From the Same Sitting
Lot # 36 - Two Tintypes of a Well-Dressed Young African American Gentleman, From the Same Sitting
Lot of two, including one ninth plate and one sixth plate tintype from the same sitting, showing a sharply dressed young African American gentleman.  Both housed in simple Union cases with modern notes purporting that the subject is James Washington, a former slave who became a successful businessman in Fairfax, Virginia.
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[Flags & Patriotic Textiles] 39-Star American Flag
Lot # 69 - [Flags & Patriotic Textiles] 39-Star American Flag
44 x 82 in. cotton flag with 39 stars arranged 7-6-7-6-7-6 (vertically). Last few inches of stripes is an addition (as made). Cotton stars are hand-appliqued to both sides of the canton. There is a cotton sleeve for the hoist (no grommets).

The 39-star flag was never official. North Dakota was admitted as the 39th state on Nov. 2, 1889, the same day as South Dakota (40th state). Six days later, Montana became a state (41st, Nov. 8th) and Washington became the 42nd three days after that (Nov. 11th). On July 3rd, Idaho became the 43rd state, and on the next day (of course) the 43-star flag was official, although it only lasted a year. With Wyoming being admitted July 10, 1890, the 44-star flag became official on July 4, 1891.
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Lieutenant James Calhoun & Wife Margaret Custer, with Lt. Henry Moore Harrington, Cabinet Photograph
Lot # 294 - Lieutenant James Calhoun & Wife Margaret Custer, with Lt. Henry Moore Harrington, Cabinet Photograph
Albumen cabinet card by E.E. Henry, Leavenworth, KS, showing Lt. James Calhoun (at left) and his wife Margaret Custer, sister of Gen. George Armstrong Custer, with Lt. Henry Moore Harrington and his wife Grace Berard.  Both officers were killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  

James Calhoun (1845-1876) was born into a wealthy Cincinnati family but enlisted in the Union Army in 1864 against the wishes of his parents.  After the war, he was given a commission as second lieutenant in the 32nd US Infantry, and met Margaret Custer, sister of the famous general, while on assignment at Fort Hays, Kansas.  Upon their marriage, Gen. Custer gave his new brother-in-law a promotion to first lieutenant in Co. C, 7th US Cavalry.  Lt. Calhoun was in temporary command of Co. L when he was killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Henry Moore Harrington (1849-1876) graduated from West Point in 1872 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in Co. C, 7th US Cavalry, ranking just below Lt. Varnum.  He was with the company when it was wiped out at Little Bighorn but his body was never found.
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<i>Battle of Mobile Bay</i>, Chromolithograph by J.O. Davidson, L. Prang & Co.
Lot # 79 - Battle of Mobile Bay, Chromolithograph by J.O. Davidson, L. Prang & Co.
Chromolithograph, 14.125 x 21 in., based on a  work by J.O. Davidson, published by L. Prang & Co., Boston, 1886.  This has been trimmed or removed from the original mount with the copyright and title, Battle of Mobile Bay / Passing Fort Morgan and the Torpedoes, though the portion of the mount with that title has been retained and accompanies the print.
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<i>United States Iron Clad Ram DICTATOR</i>, Rare Hand-Colored Lithograph by Endicott
Lot # 7 - United States Iron Clad Ram DICTATOR, Rare Hand-Colored Lithograph by Endicott
Lithograph, 16 x 27 in., framed, 24 x 34.5 in. Published by Endicott & Co., New York, with title in the margin United States Iron Clad Ram / DICTATOR / Designed by J. Ericsson / Built at the Delamater Iron Works, New York / 1868, and with dimensions and specifications to either side.
 
The USS Dictator was launched December 26, 1863 and commissioned November 11, 1864. She was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron but an unreliable engine cut her service short multiple times before the Navy decommissioned the ship for good in 1877.
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Mathew Brady Civil War Photograph of a Camp Scene, Including an African American Standing with a Horse
Lot # 132 - Mathew Brady Civil War Photograph of a Camp Scene, Including an African American Standing with a Horse
Fine albumen photograph of unknown subjects at a Civil War campsite, including two men relaxing in a tent and an African American man standing with a horse.  Brady's imprint on the mat, and the inked inscription at lower right To Capt James / with Compl. of MB Brady. This was most likely signed by one of Brady's studio assistants. Hard-to-read French inscription on verso includes references to Potomac Armee 1864-65.  8 x 4.75 in., mounted to 13.5 x 10.5 in.
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Framed Signed Engraving of Charles Devens
Lot # 34 - Framed Signed Engraving of Charles Devens
Engraving 3.625 x 4.375 in. on an 8 x 10 in. mount, framed to 10.5 x 12.5 in.  Inscribed and signed Yours, Resp'y, Chas Devens Jr., Bvt. Maj. Gen. 

Charles Devens (1820-1891)  graduated from Harvard in 1838 and received his law degree from that school two years later. He served as state senator and then U.S. Marshal for his district in Massachusetts from 1849-1853. As Marshal, he was required to return a fugitive slave, Sims, to his master. After doing so, he paid for Sims and freed him. After the war, as Attorney General in 1877, he offered him an appointment in the justice department.

Devens entered the war shortly after it was declared, was made Major in April, and appointed colonel of the 15th MA Vols. in July. By April of 1862 he was Brig. Gen. of Vols. commanding a brigade during the Peninsular campaign. He fought at Fair Oaks, where he was wounded, and Antietam and Fredericksburg. In 1863 he was wounded again at Chancellorsville. He returned to the field in 1864, and his troops ultimately were the first to occupy Richmond after its fall. It was for the capture of Richmond that he received his brevet. He commanded the District of Charleston for a year after the war, and was finally mustered out in 1866. He returned to the practice of law, and became a superior court judge in MA. He was appointed Attorney General of the United States by Hayes. After that administration left office, he became a judge in the MA supreme court, where he remained until his death in 1891.
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Independence Hall, Piece of Original Cedar Beam
Lot # 2 - Independence Hall, Piece of Original Cedar Beam
A thin 1.0 x 0.5 in. piece of wood from an original cedar beam in Independence Hall, housed in presentation case.  Wood is stamped 4220, under clear plastic in a 6 x 5 in. patent leather case with identifying plaque, depiction of Independence Hall on the cover, and facsimile signatures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence on the inside of the flaps.  Case housed in the original cardboard box with certificate of authenticity from Burnes of Boston in scroll form.
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