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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Ben E. Green, Politician & Colonel, Unpublished, Handwritten Memoirs & Related Ephemera
Lot # 391 - Ben E. Green, Politician & Colonel, Unpublished, Handwritten Memoirs & Related Ephemera
406pp manuscript; 2 pamphlets. Ca 1900.

It never ceases to amaze how so many arguments for the causes of the Civil come together, combine, and recombine in so many ways. No one better illustrates the variations on the theme than the diplomat Col. Ben E. Green (1822-1907). Born in Elkton, Ky., the son of the renowned politician, editor, and Friend of Lincoln, Duff Green, Green graduated from Georgetown 1838, and after studying law at the University of Virginia, began practice in New Orleans. With his family connections, he earned an appointment to the legation in Mexico City in 1843, and acted as charge d’affaires there until 1845, and was sent by Pres. Zachary Taylor as a secret agent to West Indies in 1849, where he secretly investigated the purchase of Cuba and establishment of naval station in Santo Domingo.

The heart of this interesting collection is a manuscript intended for publication, entitled The Reminiscences of Ben E. Green, in which Green roams over the swath of American history that he had witnessed during his long life, from his diplomatic mission to Mexico on the verge of the Mexican American War, to his ideas on Daniel Webster and other statesmen in the Senate, his secret mission to the West Indies in 1849-1850, the Civil War, and other political affairs. Throughout, he is candid, though highly partisan and blinkered by his own perspective. Writing while the Spanish American War was in swing, he recalled his time there fifty years before: I found the Cubans very cautious until assured that they could speak without risk of betrayal. Then they become eloquent in denunciation of Spanish misrule. Every one I talked with desired annexation to the United States, and said that it was the desire of all Cubans. But in the cities they had neither arms, nor organization, nor opportunity to organize. There the spy system and repressive police were such that friends meeting on the streets ran the risk of being cast into prison incommunicados, if they stopped to chat with each other. In the country, the conditions were more favorable for concert of action. What the country Cubans have since accomplished, with machetes as their only weapons, is marvelous.

More fascinating still is his discussion of race and the war between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in which he claims that the black Dominican populace expressed their loyalty to the Spanish whites of the east, and [their] abhorrence of the French blacks of the west end of the island. How long this would last: when and how soon the Spanish blacks would again coalesce with the French blacks for the extermination of the whites & mixed bloods, no one could foretell. Green returned to the US with a plan to encourage white immigration to the Dominican, promising freedom of religion, land grants, and freedom from taxes and military service, all as a means of preventing the country’s domination by the Black barbarity of Haiti.

Green’s section on the Civil War is perhaps the most important and most curious from a modern perspective. The war, he insists, is a peculiar phase of the Capital and Labor problem. In an interesting rhetorical dance, he attempts simultaneously to remove all blame for the Civil War from the South, dismiss any claims against slavery, and blame all evils on a cabal of Northern Capitalists, all while rescuing Lincoln, a close friend of Green’s father. To do so, Green writes that Lincoln was merely a political newcomer when he became President, and did not know how to prevent the zeal of devious northern capitalists who were committed to a new political economy which declared that “Free labor is cheaper than slave labor.” Northerners were never for equality -- too many wrote that they did not want free blacks in American territory -- nor does he allow that the war was a war for union -- there were northerners who sought disunion from a slaveholding south. Seward, his particular bogeyman, had once worked as a teacher in Georgia, but learned more than he taught: It did not take long for one of his quick mind to discover that there in the South, the wages of Labor went into the pockets of capital, while the cost of the Laborer’s living came out o the pockets of capital. At the north this was reversed. There wages came out of the pockets of capital, and a profit on the cost of living went into the pockets of capital, because wages were paid, as a general rule, by orders on stores, owned by capital, and the higher cost of living the greater the profit.

Claiming that the south had no idea that secession would lead to armed conflict, he writes: Under a policy of conciliation, without any attempt or threat of coercion, carried out in good faith, which Lincoln desired and would have adopted, had he been permitted, ten days would have sufficed to convince the large non-slave holding majority that it was not his purpose to force negro equality on them. Convinced of that, they would have been ready to nullify the ordinance of secession, which they had forced upon the unwilling slaveholders. He adds, somewhat disingenuously, Of course, the formal acts, -- (elections and conventions), -- would have required more time. But that delay would have been preferable to fratricidal war and its lamentable results. Green’s insists that the war was a conspiracy by Capital against Labor, with Capital asserting that slavery was too costly as a system of labor, that modern commerce demanded the cheapest labor, and that the wages of a free white man should be less than the cost of feeding, clothing & housing a slave. It was not moral to require one man to provide for the wants of other men or women in the infirmities of age, he wrote, because one has money and they none, and that it was morally wrong to make capital suffer for the improvidence or misfortunes of Labor, they concluded that it was morally wrong to allow Labor any claim on Capital at all. Green insisted that most people who voted Republican in 1860 had no idea of the hidden claims of the Black Republicans, But this was the morality of the great politico-economical leaders “in whose minds the design was centered.” Accused them also of encouraging the Coolie trade (i.e. Chinese immigration), even while claiming to oppose it. Throughout, Green insists that Lincoln was not of the same stripe of his cabinet, that he was not a Black Republican and Capital man, but was duped or misled at various points, or was outmaneuvered by rivals within his own cabinet.

The collection also includes genealogical notes on Duff Green and family and two pamphlets by Green, Shakespeare and Goethe on Gresham’s Law and the Single Gold Standard (Dalton, Ga., 1900) and An Insight Into the Dalton Real Estate Pool (Dalton, Ga.?, ca.1876). The Shakespeare and Goethe pamphlet includes a publisher’s advertisement on the back wrapper stating Soon to be issued: Reminiscences by Ben. E. Green. The work appears not to have appeared, perhaps scuttled by Green’s death.

A significant historical memoir reflecting a singular character in American diplomacy. Although somewhat brittle, with minor chipping at edges and age toning, the manuscript can be handled and read with ease.
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Vicksburg Souvenir Wallpaper Edition Newspaper Plus Civil War Letters
Lot # 2094 - Vicksburg Souvenir Wallpaper Edition Newspaper Plus Civil War Letters
Lot includes souvenir edition of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen, plus two Civil War-era letters, all found together in the same trunk.

The Vicksburg Daily Citizen "wallpaper edition" was published during the Siege of Vicksburg when the printers had run out supplies and were forced to use wallpaper to continue production of the morale-boosting local circular. Upon finding the abandoned press, the Union soldiers reprinted the final edition before Vicksburg's fall with a small addendum noting their victory and poking fun at the Confederates. The story became famous and souvenir copies were printed by several different presses, which this one certainly is, probably dating from not long after the war.
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Mixed Photography Group, Including Stereoview of Sioux Falls Street Scene, Plus Views of Johnstown, Pennsylvania Flood
Lot # 242 - Mixed Photography Group, Including Stereoview of Sioux Falls Street Scene, Plus Views of Johnstown, Pennsylvania Flood
Lot of 5 including: three mounted photographs of the Johnstown Flood, showing the river choked with mangled tree trunks, houses and debris; a stereoview of Sioux Falls main street taken by L.V. Bean; and a photographic print of a letter from Ethan Allen, "The Hero of TICONDEROGA."
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Declaration of Independence Plaque by Samuel H. Black
Lot # 2001 - Declaration of Independence Plaque by Samuel H. Black
Copper, with 1859 copyright to Samuel H. Black, New York, featuring John Trumbull's famous painting Declaration of Independence at center surrounded by the raised text of the Declaration and with the signatures reproduced below. Plaque is approx. 7.25 x 8 in.
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Custer Scout, Charles Reynolds, Photograph by D.F. Barry
Lot # 391 - Custer Scout, Charles Reynolds, Photograph by D.F. Barry
Oval-length portrait of Charles Reynolds in civilian dress, 6.25 x 8.25 in., Barry's blindstamp lower right, affixed to mount, 8.75 x 11 in. With ink identification on verso: Charlie [sic] Reynolds - Scout killed with Custer, plus light penciled notes.

Considered a loner, "Lonesome" Charley Reynolds (1842-1876) was a noted buffalo hunter and Army scout who was in the U.S. 7th Cavalry and was killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Some accounts indicate that Reynolds was shot through the heart while defending Dr. Henry Porter, who was treating a wounded soldier.
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*Taurus Tracker Model 425 Double Action Revolver
Lot # 435 - *Taurus Tracker Model 425 Double Action Revolver
.41 magnum caliber, 4" barrel, S/N BO587054. Stainless steel finish, rubber grips; original box and papers.
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Ninth Plate Daguerreotype of an Asian Woman
Lot # 195 - Ninth Plate Daguerreotype of an Asian Woman
Ninth plate daguerreotype of a woman who appears to have Asian features. Housed in a pressed-paper case.
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Henry Clay Chromolithograph on Canvas, by E.C. Middleton, Cincinnati, Ohio
Lot # 337 - Henry Clay Chromolithograph on Canvas, by E.C. Middleton, Cincinnati, Ohio
13 x 16 in. oval portrait of Henry Clay. In gesso frame. On back of canvas is Middleton's copyright statement and "Warranted Oil Colors."  Clay was a lawyer and politician who represented Kentucky in Congress (both houses), including three terms as Speaker of the House. He was also Secretary of state under John Quincy Adams and a three-time candidate for president (1824, 1832, 1844).
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[Political Americana - Lincolniana] Abraham Lincoln Group of Sculptures, Including Lincoln & Douglas Piece by Tolpo 
Lot # 291 - [Political Americana - Lincolniana] Abraham Lincoln Group of Sculptures, Including Lincoln & Douglas Piece by Tolpo 
Lot of 4, including: a 1990 Lily Tolpo sculpture depicting Lincoln and Douglas at one of their famous debates, 12" high; a cast metal sculpture of a seated Liuncoln holding the Emancipation Proclamtion, 12" high; Abraham Lincoln and Tad / Richmond, Virginia April 5, 1865, 8" high; and a 6" high figure of Lincoln walking with a book.
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Outstanding Photograph of William F. Cody Holding a Lion Cub
Lot # 55 - Outstanding Photograph of William F. Cody Holding a Lion Cub
4.75 x 6.75 in. silver gelatin print mounted to 8 x 10 in.  Signed in the negative F.A. Osborn and mount verso hand stamped twice Frank A. Osborn, 150 Lincoln Ave., Chicago, Ills. An extremely rare, perhaps unique, image.
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Pattern 1890/27 French Carbine
Lot # 60 - Pattern 1890/27 French Carbine
.8mm Lebel,  18" barrel length, S/N 2444. Left side of receiver marked St Etienne Mle 1890. Walnut stock with bayonet and scabbard.
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General John C. Tidball, Group of Three Autographed CDVs
Lot # 15 - General John C. Tidball, Group of Three Autographed CDVs
John C. Tidball (1825-1906).  Lot of three cartes de visite by H.W. Vaughan of San Francisco (two of the same pose), each signed on verso Jno. C Tidball / U.S. Army / 1866.

Tidball, from eastern Ohio, received a nomination to West Point and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation in 1848.  His early career was eventful, serving in the Seminole Wars, an exploratory expedition in California, and as part of the forces ordered to suppress John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry. 

During the Civil War he was given commands in the U.S. Horse Artillery Brigade, New York's volunteer artillery, II Corps during the Overland Campaign, and IX Corps during the Appomattox Campaign. He even served a stint as Commandant of West Point.  All in all, he was awarded with five brevets to major general and was personally commended by President Lincoln for his actions with the Horse Artillery Brigade at Gettysburg.

Postwar, General Tidball served as Commander of the Department of Alaska, commandant of the artillery school at Fort Monroe, and as a member of Sherman's staff when he was General of the Army, among other assignments.

Interestingly, when looking up the photographer H.W. Vaughan in order to determine where these photographs were made, we found that his studio was jointly operated with a Scott Tidball ca 1866-1868.  We could not further identify him but it is quite possible the general was making a visit to his brother or other relative when he had these portraits taken.
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Lt. Colonel Thomas Chamberlin, 150th Pennsylvania <i>Bucktails</i>, WIA at Gettysburg, CDV
Lot # 37 - Lt. Colonel Thomas Chamberlin, 150th Pennsylvania Bucktails, WIA at Gettysburg, CDV
CDV of Chamberlin as major or lieutenant colonel, uncredited.  Thomas Chamberlin was commissioned a captain in Co. D, 34th Pennsylvania Infantry, on June 21 1861. He was wounded at New Market Cross Roads, VA, June 30, 1862, and held as a prisoner of war for two months until being exchanged for a soldier of the 8th North Carolina. He was discharged for promotion September 23, 1862, and commissioned a major in Field & Staff, 150th Pennsylvania Infantry, known as the "New Bucktails," or "Bogus Bucktails" by the original Bucktails until they proved themselves at Gettysburg, where Chamberlin was wounded. He was made lieutenant colonel shortly before his resignation in March 1864.
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Rare Daniel S. Mitchell & John Hillers American Indian CDV Album
Lot # 298 - Rare Daniel S. Mitchell & John Hillers American Indian CDV Album
Lot of 36 CDVs housed in a period album with inked identifications on most pages. 24 are by Daniel S. Mitchell, 15 with his Cheyenne, WY studio backmark, the others backed the same way but without the Mitchell marking. Seven by Hillers, on his yellow or green mounts lacking an imprint, plus 4 CDVs by unknown studios and one tintype of a white man and three Indian women. Two of the cartes have a name and address on verso, which census records identify as a cattle rancher in Nebraska.

Daniel S. Mitchell (1838-1929) spent nearly his entire life involved in photography, starting as a daguerreotypist's assistant when he was only nine years old. After working at several Northeastern galleries, he left his home and family in Boston to photograph the West in 1874. Mitchell initially established a gallery in Cheyenne but often traveled to photograph the Indians, miners, soldiers, railroads, and landscapes of the Great Plains and Black Hills. He moved his studio from Wyoming to South Dakota to Nebraska to Illinois to Oklahoma, compiling an impressive catalog of Western views, of which the photos seen here are arguably the most important. They were taken at Red Cloud Agency in 1877 and show notable Sioux chiefs and warriors, most of which present at the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty and the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Specifically, and in the order they are placed in the album, the subjects include: Friday, Northern Arapaho, part of the Washington delegation, 1877; Black Coal, Northern Arapahoe, present at Fort Laramie in 1868, appointed their leader at Red Cloud Agency ca 1871, lobbied for Wyoming lands as part of the Washington delegation, led his tribe there the next year, and considered their representative by the U.S. Gov't until his death in 1893; Sharp Nose, Northern Arapahoe, part of the Washington delegation, 1877, where he was often photographed with Friday and Black Coal; Washington; Red Cloud (1822-1909), Oglala Lakota, their chief 1868-1909, one of the few warrior chiefs to lead his men to decisive victory over the U.S., but later recognized the eventual futility of armed opposition, attempted to negotiate peacefully, and facilitated his people's transition to reservation life; American Horse (1840-1908) Oglala Lakota, made chief in 1868, joined Red Cloud in 1871, appointed representative of Bear People to the U.S. Gov't in 1881, negotiated peace with Spotted Elk and the Ghost Dance followers who were considering war, traveled to Washington and secured improved provisions in 1891, and toured with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show; Little Big Man (Charging Bear) Oglala Lakota, fought under Crazy Horse at Little Bighorn, then later switched allegiance and assisted in his murder; Red Shirt, Oglala Lakota, one of the last living witnesses to Little Bighorn, able to attend the 75th anniversary ceremony in 1951. Young Man Afraid of His Horse (1830-1900), Oglala Sioux chief, nephew of Red Cloud and one of his most trusted lieutenants, first president of the Pine Ridge Indian Council and a frequent representative to the United States government; No Flesh, Brule Lakota, captured one of the cavalry standards at Little Bighorn; Little Wound (1835-1899), Oglala Lakota, sergeant of Red Cloud but later became his political enemy and a promulgator of the Ghost Dance movement; Black Bear, Oglala Lakota, present at Little Bighorn; He Dog (1840-1936), Oglala Lakota, nephew of Red Cloud, fought at Little Bighorn, surrendered with Crazy Horse in 1877, joined the delegation to Washington, then fled to Canada with Sitting Bull, eventually surrendering again and serving as a judge at Pine Ridge; Three Bears; White Horse; Stands First, Oglala Lakota, captured General Custer's flag; The Fisher; Long Buffalo; Pawnee Killer, Oglala Lakota, present at Little Bighorn, later took his band to Red Cloud Agency; High Bear; a Gila Apache; Sleepy Jim; Jose; Apache Jack; Apache Bill; Spotted Horse; Tonto Apache; Shy Fancy; Little Thunder; and Spotted Tail.
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Gorham Fairfax Sterling Flatware
Lot # 139 - Gorham Fairfax Sterling Flatware
American. An eighty-piece Gorham flatware service in "Fairfax" pattern, includes (6) butter knives, (12) dinner knives, (12) dinner forks, (12) salad forks, (6) shrimp forks, (8) iced tea spoons, (18) teaspoons, (1) sugar spoon, (2) serving spoons, (1) pie knife, (1) carving knife and fork, all marked with the Gorham hallmarks; total weighable silver 58.98ozt (1983.5g).
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US WWII 48-Star American Flag
Rare Ninth Plate Ambrotype of a Southerner Posed with the Confederate National Flag, Plus
Lot # 216 - Rare Ninth Plate Ambrotype of a Southerner Posed with the Confederate National Flag, Plus
Ninth plate ambrotype of a Southern gentleman seated with the first national flag of the Confederate States of America, tinted red and blue, PLUS a sixth plate daguerreotype of a man and a ninth plate daguerreotype of a woman, which were acquired with the ambrotype.
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Presidential Candidate Autograph Collection, 20th Century
Lot # 84 - Presidential Candidate Autograph Collection, 20th Century
Lot of 4, including:

Goldwater, Barry (1909-1998). "Mr. Conservative"; five-term U.S. Senator from Arizona and the 1964 Republican nominee for president. An 8" x 10" publicity portrait, signed Barry Goldwater in blue ink at lower right; accompanied by a Goldwater bumper sticker.

McCarthy, Eugene J. "Gene" (1916-2005). U.S. Representative and Senator from Minnesota (1949-59; 1959-71), and five-time unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. TLS, 1p, dated January 17, 1978, corresponding with a supporter about a speech at the Cleveland City Club.

Wallace, George Corley Jr. (1919-1998). Segregationist Governor of Alabama (1963–67, 1971–79, 1983–87), and four-time unsuccessful candidate for President of the United States (1964, '68, '72, and '76). An 8" x 10" photograph autographed in black marker To my friend / Col. Grady Perry / Best Wishes / George C Wallace / Gov of Alabama.

Stevenson, Adlai Ewing II (1900-1965). Governor of Illinois (1949-53) and Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1952 and 1956, losing to Eisenhower both times. An ALS in black ink, on Stevenson's Chicago stationary, undated, thanking an unnamed friend for his support, including the lines: If I troubled the nation's sleep a little I am satisfied. Yet I regret that I could not better fulfill the hopes and expectations of my friends. AND a canceled postcard signed Adlai E Stevenson / Sept 3, 1952 in black ink on an otherwise blank verso.
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[Civil War] Train and Troops at Relay House, Va., Stereoviews
Lot # 137 - [Civil War] Train and Troops at Relay House, Va., Stereoviews
Lot of 3, including two E.&H.T. Anthony views titled on the verso labels No. 819 / The Famous Relay House. / Massachusetts troops on guard, and No. 821 / Entrenchments commanding the Viaduct at the Relay House on the Balt.& Ohio R.R., PLUS a view similar to the first, lacking any imprint, inscription, or label, but marked 136 in the negative and known to be an Anthony view as well.
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[Western Photo] Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, Early Photograph 
Lot # 348 - [Western Photo] Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, Early Photograph 
Ca 1897 silver gelatin print, 5" x 7.75", titled in the negative 42a. Avalon, Santa Catalina Isl., with photo credit to Charles B. Waite of Los Angeles also in the negative and hand stamped on verso of 6.75" x 9.75" mount.
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