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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Civil War Composite Image of Officers of the 92nd Illinois Infantry, Found in Rockford, Illinois
Lot # 102 - Civil War Composite Image of Officers of the 92nd Illinois Infantry, Found in Rockford, Illinois
20.75 x 26.75 in. overall, featuring 36 oval salt print portraits measuring 2.25 x 2.75 in., surrounding a central 4.375 x 6.375 in. oval salt print portrait of Col. Smith. D. Atkins, 92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry.  All other men are believed to be officers of the 92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry, but almost all the inked identifications on the mount have faded.

Smith Dykins Atkins (1836-1913) was a 25-year-old lawyer residing in Freeport, IL, when he enlisted on April 30, 1861.  He was commissioned a captain in Co. A, 11th Illinois Infantry, on May 14, 1861, and promoted to major the following February.  On September 4, 1862, he was made colonel of the new 92nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which would become the 92nd Illinois Volunteer Mounted Infantry.  In this rank, he was given command of infantry  brigades in the Army of Kentucky and Army of the Cumberland and cavalry brigades in the Army of the Cumberland and Military Division of the Mississippi, the last of which participated in Sherman's March to the Sea.  For his able leadership, Atkins was nominated brevet brigadier general by President Lincoln in January 1865, and brevet major general by President Johnson in 1866.  After the war he controversially married the daughter of former North Carolina governor David Swain, a Southern belle who he had met while commanding occupation forces in Chapel Hill, and returned to his hometown in Freeport where he served as editor of the local newspaper and postmaster, in addition to publishing his memoirs and Civil War histories.
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James Monroe Clipped Signature
Lot # 4 - James Monroe Clipped Signature
(1758-1831). Fifth President of the United States (1817-1825). 1" x 4.25" clipping, signed James Monroe in black ink, clipped from a document with evidence of a signature above Monroe's and the upper half of the printed text By the President below.
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Civil War Albumen Portrait of a Naval Officer
Lot # 153 - Civil War Albumen Portrait of a Naval Officer
Albumen photograph on an 8 x 10 in. mount with gilt border designs, framed to 15 x 17 in.
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Declaration of Independence, Engraved Wall Plaque by Samuel H. Black, 1859
Lot # 1 - Declaration of Independence, Engraved Wall Plaque by Samuel H. Black, 1859
7.25 x 8 in. Wall plaque with Declaration of Independence. New York: S. H. Black, 1859. Document reproduced in very small raised letters. With facsimile signatures at bottom and a circle in center with a reproduction of John Trumbull's famous painting of the signing of the Declaration.
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Illustrated Broadside Promoting J.W. Buel's <i>Border Outlaws</i>, Recounting the Lives of the James and Younger Brothers
Lot # 461 - Illustrated Broadside Promoting J.W. Buel's Border Outlaws, Recounting the Lives of the James and Younger Brothers
Double-sided illustrated broadside featuring individual woodcut illustrations of Jesse James, his dead body, all the Younger brothers and their mother, Frank James, Robert Ford and more, all to advertise the latest and revised edition of J.W. Buel's book, Border Outlaws. Measures 10.5 x 16 in. (sight), housed in double-sided frame, 16 x 23 in. overall.
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Armed Ute Chieftain <i>Shavano</i>, Fine Photograph
Lot # 209 - Armed Ute Chieftain Shavano, Fine Photograph
Albumen photograph of Tabeguache Ute Shavano, one of Chief Ouray's lieutenants, dressed in full uniform, applied paper label on mount below with the chieftain's name in ink, Sh-av-wann Ouex-ult-ch, which appears to be the French spelling of his name. 7 x 12.25 in., housed in wooden frame, 10 x 15.5 in.

It has been suggested that this photograph was produced by the early Denver City photographer G.D. Wakely, ca 1867, and the French spelling suggests that the portrait may have been commissioned by the French traveler Louis L. Simonin, who visited Denver in 1867 and is known to have commissioned several American Indian portraits, including a different portrait of Shavano. He also commissioned various city views, from which wood cuts were made to illustrate his published journal, Le Tour du Monde.

In this portrait, Shavano wears a post-Civil War hat adorned with a Civil-War-era embroidered hat emblem, plus a belt and buckle with carbine cartridge box, with a knife in beaded sheath hanging from the belt. He also holds a rifle in a sheath. 

Our sincere thanks to Mike Cowdrey for providing information regarding this photograph. 
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Theologian Ralph Emerson, ALS from Andover Theological Seminary, 1836
Lot # 321 - Theologian Ralph Emerson, ALS from Andover Theological Seminary, 1836
Emerson, Ralph (1787-1863). American theologian. ALS, 2 p., written to his cousin discussing his family farm and finances. Andover, February 8, 1836. 

Ralph Emerson graduated from Yale College in 1811. He was the pastor of the Congregational Church and Seminary at Andover until he moved to be closer to his children. He contributed to the Bibliotheca Sacra and the Christain Spectator
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Conjoined African American Slaves Millie & Christine McKoy CDV, Plus the <i>Colored Volunteer</i>
Lot # 114 - Conjoined African American Slaves Millie & Christine McKoy CDV, Plus the Colored Volunteer
Lot of 2, including:

Carte de visite of African American conjoined twins Millie & Christine McKoy, published by Brown, Barnes, & Bell.  The McKoys (1851-1912) where born into slavery  in North Carolina and sold into exhibition, eventually ending up with Barnum's American Museum.

An uncredited CDV of The Colored Volunteer, by Thomas Nast.
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Remington No.1 Rolling Block Rifle
Lot # 29 - Remington No.1 Rolling Block Rifle
Argentine 11mm Spanish cal., 36" barrel, refinished
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T. Euling, <i>Map of the United States of North America, Upper & Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia & British Columbia...</i>
Lot # 250 - T. Euling, Map of the United States of North America, Upper & Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia & British Columbia...
Euling, T. Map of the United States of North America, Upper & Lower Canada. new Brunswick, Nova Scotia & British Columbia, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, St. Domingo and the Bahama Islands. 29 x 41 in. Across the top - "Supplement to the Illustrated London News, June 1, 1861." Confederate and border states in lighter color than Northern and Western states. There does not seem to be a key; we presume there was some description in the Times, along with information about the political schism for the understanding of the British.
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William Dixon Photogravures from the Rodman Wannamaker Expedition
Lot # 344 - William Dixon Photogravures from the Rodman Wannamaker Expedition
Lot of 10 photogravures by William Dixon, approx. 4.25 x 7 in., matted, from the Rodman Wannamaker Expedition, ca 1913. Including the following titles: Chief Umapine; White Man Runs Him - Custer Scout; Chief Two Moons Addressing the Council; Scouts on the March; The Custer Battlefield; Scouts Passing under the cover of Night; Custer Scouts; Two Moons as he fought Custer; Chief "Koon-Kah-La-Chy" addressing the Council; The Lone Teepe. From The North American Indian - Wannamaker Expedition 1913.
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German WWII NSKK Dagger with Hanger
Lot # 218 - German WWII NSKK Dagger with Hanger
8.75" blade; maker's mark RZM. Mid-war fittings. Also included is a 1933 black hanger.
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[Political Americana] Inscribed Plaque Presented to John F. Kennedy by the Clare County Council, Ireland 
Lot # 314 - [Political Americana] Inscribed Plaque Presented to John F. Kennedy by the Clare County Council, Ireland 
A silver plaque(confirmed by testing), 2.5" x 6.5", engraved: Presented by / Clare County Council / On Behalf Of The People Of Clare / To / John Fitzgerald Kennedy / President of the United States of America / on his Visit to / Shannon Airport, Co. Clare, Ireland / 29th June; 1963.

President Kennedy, the first Irish-Catholic U.S. President, visited his ancestral home to much fanfare, June 27-29, 1963. He departed from Shannon airport on the afternoon of the 29th after delivering a brief speech which he opened by thanking the Clare County Council. Notes accompanying the text of that speech state that the thanks were in reference to a gift of old Irish silver.

Link: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9322#axzz1f7Zdb2On
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Documents from Tryon County, New York
Lot # 182 - Documents from Tryon County, New York
Lot of 5. ANS, 1p, docketed on verso, 7 x 7.75 in., 3 Jan. 1799. Note from John Herkimer to John Porteous explaining that he was unable to immediately meet a debt, but after he sells some hay he will pay both his and his mother's debts. John Herkimer (1773-1848) was a member of the influential Herkimer family of Tryon/Montgomery County, son of George and nephew of General Nicholas Herkimer. Born too late for Indian War or Revolutionary War service, John did serve as a Major in the State militia during the War of 1812. He served in the state assembly (1800, 1804, 1806) before being elected to the U.S. Congress (1817-1819; 1823-1825).

DS, 6pp, 8 x 10 in., tied with red ribbon upper left, Tryon County, New York, filed 21 May 1775 (March term in the fifteenth year of the Reign of King George the Third.). Legal document relating to a debt, signed by W. Butler.

DS, 2pp, 7.75 x 12.75 in., Tryon Co., NY, 1783. Legal document relating to a debt; Matthew Visscher, Attny.

DS, 1p plus docketing on verso, 9 x 14.75 in., Tryon Co., NY, June term 1774. Legal document relating to a debt, signed Gansevoort - another influential name in the region. It is not clear whether this is Peter Gansevoort, but it was likely a relative.

DS, 2pp, 7.75 x 12.75 in., Johnstown, Tryon County, NY, 15 Dec. 1774 (Fifteenth year of the reign of King George the Third). Legal document regarding a debt, signed by Heindrick Frey, Judge.
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New Jersey Civil War Service Medals, Lot of Two
Lot # 65 - New Jersey Civil War Service Medals, Lot of Two
Lot of two New Jersey Civil War service medals, stamped 1070 and 3356

Medal 1070 is identified to William Dubel, who mustered into Co. A, 23rd New Jersey Infantry on September 13, 1862 at Beverly, NJ, and mustered out June 27, 1863.  Dubel's company was composed entirely of men from the Burlington area, and he was promoted to corporal of the unit January 31, 1863.  The regiment, fighting alongside the 1st New Jersey Brigade, took part in the battles at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Salem Church, and upon returning to Beverly for mustering out was directed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to prepare for an invasion by Lee's army which never materialized.
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Show Indians on the Pike at the St. Louis World's Fair, Plus Cody Riding in an Automobile in St. Louis
Lot # 91 - Show Indians on the Pike at the St. Louis World's Fair, Plus Cody Riding in an Automobile in St. Louis
Lot of 3, including 2 4.25 x 6.5 in. photographs of Cummins' Wild West Show Indians on the Pike at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, with a Cummins' Wild West Show broadside visible on a column in the background of both shots and a fine view down the Pike visible in one, plus an 8 x 10 in. mounted silver gelatin photograph by Olive Studio of St. Louis showing William F. Cody posed in a carriage, in front of an outdoor backdrop.
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Currier Lithograph, <i>Presidents of the United States</i>
Lot # 2343 - Currier Lithograph, Presidents of the United States
Early Nathaniel Currier lithograph The Presidents of the United States, ca 1845, showing the 11 presidents up to that point.13.5 x 9.75 in. (sight), framed to 25 x 22 in.
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Civil War Cased Sixth Plate Tintypes of Armed Soldiers
Lot # 106 - Civil War Cased Sixth Plate Tintypes of Armed Soldiers
Lot of 2, including:

Sixth plate tintype of a soldier armed with a musket with bayonet and Colt Navy revolver, posed in front of a military camp backdrop with a partial American flag visible at upper left.  Housed in a The Eagle at Bay Union case (Krainik-111).

Sixth plate tintype of a soldier posed with a musket with bayonet.  Housed in a Union Union case (Krainik-114) with period inked label under the plate dating the image to July 1864.  The label also appears to include an identification but is hard to read (see detail image).
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Clark Foss,
Lot # 402 - Clark Foss, "Most Famous Stagecoach Driver in the World," CDV by Bradley & Rulofson
Born in Maine ca 1819, he moved to Troy, NY in 1844. He moved the family to California sometime later, settling in Healdsburg about 1859. When hog-raising was not profitable, he got involved in livery service. As the fame of the Geysers grew, Foss made the run up to the Geysers Resort, which he purchased in 1866, his specialty. He reportedly made the run down the "hog's back," as the narrow ridge top portion along the road leading to the resort was known, in under ten minutes, even though the trip up usually took over an hour. One story tells of a woman who, upon hearing that Foss was to be their driver, jumped out of the stagecoach and refused to ride. Others specifically hired him, such as the party of wealthy Easterners who wanted to make the trip in one day. Foss arranged a relay of horses, and made the trip from Napa to the Geysers and back to Petaluma in a day, including the route along the Hog's Back. He received gifts - gloves, whips, etc. - from the gentlemen for many months, in addition to a premium fee.

Although he drove the route for many years, his luck eventually caught up with him. In the late 1870s the stage tumbled into a ravine, and he and seven passengers were badly hurt, a young woman was killed. He healed, and was not so reckless after that. He quit driving in 1881, his son taking over the business. He died in 1885.
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