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Item - BSL - Garfield 1881

Price: $4,950



1881 - President James Garfield and First Lady
 Double Signatures While In Office!!!


An Album Leaf Signed and Dated by James A. Garfield as President
Also Signed by Lucretia Garfield as First Lady


 James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield (1831 - 1881)
Lucretia R. Garfield (1831 - 1899

Lucretia Garfield

Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881, less than 4 months into his term, and lingered through the summer until he died from blood poisoning in September. This leaf from an autograph album is signed with a magnificent large signature as President "James A. Garfield, May 3, 1881" It is also signed at the lower right by "Lucretia R. Garfield," his wife and First Lady. Because he was shot so soon into his administration, Garfield's autograph as President is naturally rare, and we have never before seen anything signed by him and by Lucretia as well, nor can we recall seeing any other autograph of hers as First Lady. Interestingly, this autograph was signed exactly half way through his term of active service as President. Whether as a Presidential signature or a First Lady's signature this double signing is a true rarity among Presidential Collections.

Historical Note

As the last of the log cabin Presidents, James A. Garfield attacked political corruption and won back for the Presidency a measure of prestige which it had lost during the Reconstruction period. He was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in 1831. Fatherless at two, he later drove canal boat teams, somehow earning enough money for an education. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1856 and returned to  Hiram College in Ohio as a classics professor. Within a year he was made its president. Garfield was elected to the Ohio Senate in 1859 as a Republican. During the secession crisis, he advocated coercing the seceding states back into the Union. In 1862, when Union military victories had been few, he successfully led a brigade at Middle Creek, Kentucky, against Confederate troops. At 31, Garfield became a brigadier general, two years later a major general of volunteers. Meanwhile, in 1862, Ohioans elected him to Congress. President Lincoln persuaded him to resign his commission: It was easier to find major generals than to obtain effective Republicans for Congress. Garfield repeatedly won re-election for 18 years, and became the leading Republican in the House.

At the 1880 Republican Convention, Garfield failed to win the Presidential nomination for his friend John Sherman. Finally, on the 36th ballot, Garfield himself became the "dark horse" nominee. By a margin of only 10,000 popular votes, Garfield defeated the Democratic nominee, Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. As President, Garfield strengthened Federal authority over the New York Customs House, stronghold of Senator Roscoe Conkling, who was leader of the Stalwart Republicans and dispenser of patronage in New York. When Garfield submitted to the Senate a list of appointments including many of Conkling's friends, he named Conkling's arch-rival William H. Robertson to run the Customs House. Conkling contested the nomination, tried to persuade the Senate to block it, and appealed to the Republican caucus to compel its withdrawal. But Garfield would not submit: "This...will settle the question whether the President is registering clerk of the Senate or the Executive of the United States.... shall the principal port of entry ... be under the control of the administration or under the local control of a factional senator." Conkling maneuvered to have the Senate confirm Garfield's uncontested nominations and adjourn without acting on Robertson. Garfield countered by withdrawing all nominations except Robertson's; the Senators would have to confirm him or sacrifice all the appointments of Conkling's friends.  In a final desperate move, Conkling and his fellow-Senator from New York resigned, confident that their legislature would vindicate their stand and re-elect them. Instead, the legislature elected two other men; the Senate confirmed Robertson. Garfield's victory was complete.

On July 2, 1881, in a Washington railroad station, an embittered attorney, Charles Guiteau, who had sought a consular post, shot the President. Mortally wounded, Garfield lay in the White House for weeks. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, tried unsuccessfully to find the bullet with an induction-balance electrical device which he had designed but which ironically may have been mis-calibrated due to the fact that Garfield was lying on a then new device - an iron spring mattress!! On September 6, Garfield was taken to the New Jersey seaside. For a few days he seemed to be recuperating, but on September 19, 1881, he died from an infection and internal hemorrhage.

Document Specifications: This is a single page from an autograph album (an album leaf) common at the time. The image of Garfield that appears on the page is actually a cut out of a US Stamp issued as postage after his death (Scott catalogue # 205). It has been glued to the sheet. There is nothing on the reverse side except for an auction lotting number in pencil. There is some foxing (browning of paper due to aging) along the right edge and some corner wear. Lucretia's signature is full and legible but grows faint as it approaches the right margin. The overall page measures 6" wide x 4" tall. Sales of Garfield "signed in office" material are scarce to rare in the market, as he was only in office for 4 months. A recent auction of a Garfield Presidential letter sold for $18,000.


Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

Official PayPal SealItem includes a written, signed & sealed lifetime guarantee of authenticity and is accompanied by a full color picture receipt for your insurance and inventory records. Item will be archivally packaged & shipped to your address. Please note that although we take great care in scanning our item images, monitor displayed colors may vary from original. Damage on delivery must be promptly reported. There is a 14 day "no questions asked" return policy, but item must be returned in the same condition as sent and the return shipment cost and liability is the responsibility of the buyer. While domestic shipping is free, certain international shipments may require buyer to be accountable for additional postage, duties, customs fees, excise taxes or VAT's. Washington State residents will be charged the 6.5% sales tax.

End of Item - BSL - Garfield 1881

Tel: 573-382-1776

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