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Lot 37

Mathew Brady Sues the Notorious Jay Gould for his Failure to Pay for "Certain Pictures of Defendant"

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Mathew Brady Sues the Notorious Jay Gould for his Failure to Pay for "Certain Pictures of Defendant"


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Mathew Brady Sues the Notorious Jay Gould for his Failure to Pay for "Certain Pictures of Defendant"

Manuscript Document Signed by Mathew B. Brady, as "M.B. Brady", New York, March 6, 1872, 1 p. front and verso, 8" x 11.75". Fine condition. Included is an original Letter of Authenticity from PSA/DNA.

The document, a New York Supreme Court Complaint by plaintiff Mathew B. Brady against defendant Jay Gould, reads, in part, "That on or about the 16th day of April A.D. 1869, the plaintiff made, sold, and delivered to the defendant together with frames for the same, for which the defendant contracted and agreed to pay the sum of eight hundred and seven dollar ... That there remains due and unpaid thereon the sum of four hundred and sixty-nine dollars ... Wherefore plaintiff demands judgment against the defendant for the sum of four hundred and sixty-nine dollars with interest".

This remarkable document shows Brady taking on perhaps the most ruthless robber barons of the Gilded Age, powerful businessman, Jay Gould. By this time, Brady was nearly penniless and needed every dollar he could get. As one of the richest men on Wall Street, Gould certainly had the means to repay Brady for his work; it seems that he simply did not want to. A notary signs at the conclusion of the document, lending further credence to the authenticity of Brady's large, bold, and exceedingly rare signature.


Mathew B. Brady (c. 1822-1896) was an American photographer, and one of the earliest in American history. Best known for his scenes of the Civil War, he studied under inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, who pioneered the daguerreotype technique in America. Brady opened his own studio in New York in 1844, and photographed Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and Abraham Lincoln, among other public figures. When the Civil War started, his use of a mobile studio and darkroom enabled vivid battlefield photographs that brought home the reality of war to the public. Thousands of war scenes were captured, as well as portraits of generals and politicians on both sides of the conflict, though most of these were taken by his assistants, rather than by Brady himself. After the war, these pictures went out of fashion, and the government did not purchase the master-copies as he had anticipated. Brady's fortunes declined sharply, and he died in debt.


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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