Lot 178

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Varina Davis Secretarial Letter to Jefferson's Publishers, with Bonus CDV of Union Artillery Commander & Vet of Major Civil War Battles

1p autograph letter signed by Varina Davis (1826-1906) on behalf of her husband, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis (1808/9-1889). Secretarially signed by her as "Jefferson Davis" near bottom right. Written at Beauvoir Mansion, near Biloxi, Mississippi on November 17, 1887. Expected paper folds and a few extra wrinkles. Pencil inscribed verso. The leaf is lightly encapsulated. Else near fine. 5" x 8.785." Accompanied by a bonus carte de visite of Major Ezra Wallace Matthews, a Union Army officer who fought at several major Civil War battles.

Jefferson Davis by way of Varina Davis wrote to Davis's publishers, representatives of D. Appleton & Company, in part:


Your's [sic] of the 11th Inst was duly received with the book which had been accidentally left unforwarded from your office.

With thanks for your courteous explanation, I can readily understand how the delay occurred without intentional neglect.


Jefferson Davis."

"The book" referred to in this letter was probably Davis's apologia "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government," first published by D. Appleton in 1881. Six years after its initial publication, the book could have been going through later editions.

Relations between Davis and his New York publishers were not always so cordial. He accused the company of withholding part of his royalties and filed a lawsuit against them the year of his death which his family later settled out of court. Davis's "A Short History of the Confederate States of America" was posthumously published by one of D. Appleton's competitors, the publisher Belford Co., in 1890.

The lot also comes with a bonus carte de visite of Major Ezra Wallace Matthews (1835-1885), a Pennsylvania artillery officer. The backstamp "Photographed by / Judson / Irving Block, Milford, Mass." can be found verso beneath the pencil inscription "Maj. E.W. Matthews / 1st Pa. Arty." The oval-shaped sepia-colored photograph is mounted on a handsomely printed stock card measuring 2.25" x 3.25." Light toning, and with a paper clip impression in the upper left corner affecting the mount and photo, else near fine.

Captain E.W. Matthews enlisted in the Union Army on July 8, 1861. He was closely associated with Battery F of the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery. Matthews fought at the Battles of Second Bull Run (Manassas), Antietam (where his horse was shot from under him), Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness. He was promoted to Major on April 11, 1863, resigning a little over one year later, on June 27, 1864.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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August 25, 2021 10:30 AM EDT
Wilton, CT, US

University Archives

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Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000