Lincoln Takes on a Contingency Case in Illinois, 1852

ADS [signed in the text "A Lincoln"], measuring 8" x 5", dated May 15, 1852, Danville, IL. Legal document written in Lincoln's hand stating that one C.L. Pate will pay a total of 80 dollars to Lincoln and O.L. Davis for representation in court in the event that his case is won. Docketed on verso "C L Pates note/ $80.00". General toning throughout, with minor uneven tearing to bottom edge, not affecting text. Evidence of slight restoration on verso, otherwise very fine.

In full:

"For value received I promise to pay O.L. Davis, and A Lincoln, eighty dollars, whenever the five suits brought in the Vermilion county circuit court, by the People of the State of Illinois, against me, on five general Recognizance of law, shall be finally decided in my favor, and not before- /C.L. Pate"

The case of The People V. Pate was brought to the Illinois Supreme Court in December of 1853, in which Lincoln represented the aforementioned Charles L. Pate in an action of debt. Lincoln ultimately lost the case, with the final ruling having stipulated that Pate pay back his debt in full, a total of one hundred and fifty dollars. As the document states, payment was not due to Lincoln for his services in this case, as the matter was not "finally decided in my [Pate's] favor". Throughout his time practicing on the Illinois bar, Lincoln appeared before the Supreme Court in 175 cases. Of the 175, he would act as sole counsel in 51 cases, more than half of which were decided in his favor. It was during this time that he acquired the nickname "Honest Abe", which became a reference to his growing legal reputation.

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.


Accepted Forms of Payment:

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Paypal, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


Unless otherwise indicated, we do our own in-house worldwide shipping!

Applicable shipping and handling charges will be added to the invoice. We offer several shipping options, and remain one of the few auction houses who proudly provides professional in-house shipping as an option to our clients. All items will ship with signature required, and full insurance. Most items are sent via Federal Express, with P. O. Box addresses being sent through USPS. We insure through Berkley Asset Protection with rates of $.70 per $100 of value, among the lowest insurance rates in the industry. Our shipping department cameras document every package, both outgoing and incoming, for maximum security. In addition, we compare our shipping and handling rates against those of other auction houses, to ensure that our charges are among the lowest in the trade.

Upon winning your item(s), you will receive an invoice with our in-house shipping and handling fees included. ***We will ship to the address as it appears on your invoice. If any changes to the shipping address need to be made, you must inform us immediately.***

International shipments: In order to comply with our insurance provider, all international shipments will be sent via Fed Ex and customs paperwork will show a value of $1.00. International buyers should contact our office directly with any questions regarding this policy.

Third Party Shipping Option: If a third party shipper is preferred, the buyer is responsible for contacting them directly to make shipping arrangements. For your convenience, we have provided some recommended shippers. For your protection, we will require a signed release from you, confirming your authorization for us to release your lots to your specified third party Please copy and paste this following link into your browser: At that point, our responsibility and insurance coverage for your item(s) ceases. Items picked up by third party shippers are required to pay Connecticut sales tax. Items requiring third party shipping due to being oversized, fragile or bulky will be denoted in the item description.

Please see our full terms and conditions for names of suggested third party shippers.

After payment has been made in full, University Archives will ship your purchase within 10 business days following receipt of full payment for item.

Please remember that the buyer is responsible for all shipping costs from University Archives' offices in Wilton, CT to the buyer's door. Please see full Terms and Conditions of Sale.

February 1, 2023 11:00 AM EST
Wilton, CT, US

University Archives

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

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