Autographs, Currency, Coins, and Americana Up For Auction on March 18th

Early American History Auctions has carefully prepared this month’s auction with over 270 lots of important and valuable material. Included are pieces of Historical Americana, Civil War Era documents, encased postage stamps, colonial currency, US Coins, and much more. Pieces range from 300 dollars up to museum quality historical documents worth tens of thousands of dollars. Absentee bidding is open and the auction kicks off at 9AM Pacific Time on Saturday the 18th.
Lot 122 is one of the feature pieces of this auction. Presented with importance is a photo signed by Franklin D Roosevelt. This opens for $2500 and is described in incredible detail as follows:

““Franklin D. Roosevelt” as President Photograph Inscribed & Signed to Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman West Hartford, CT
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945). Thirty-Second President of the United States (1933–1945) and a dominant leader of the Democratic Party being the only American President elected to more than two terms in office.
Classic Presidential Portrait Photograph Inscribed and Signed, “Franklin D. Roosevelt,” as President, (no date), 8” x 10”, Choice Extremely Fine. Inscribed in ink on the Photo above Roosevelt’s left shoulder in the open and lighter area, reading: “For Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman, from his friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt.” Feldman was the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, CT, where he remained until retiring in 1977. In wonderful overall condition with some mounting traces upon the top margin edge, excellent for framing and display.
Abraham J. Feldman was born in Kiev, Ukraine and came to the U.S. in 1906 at age 11. In 1918, he was ordained as a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College, and then served as fellowship assistant for Rabbi Stephen S. Wise at his Free Synagogue in New York. A year later, Feldman went on to Congregation Children of Israel in Athens, Ga. and then spent five years as rabbi to the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Philadelphia.

In 1925 Feldman was selected as rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, CT, where he remained until retiring in 1977. While at Beth Israel, Feldman was a leader not only in Connecticut Jewish life, but also in ecumenical and secular organizations. In 1929 he was a co-founder of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, of which he remained editor until 1977.

Feldman was prominent in Jewish organizations at the national level, as well. He was a member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College and served on the executive council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the oldest American federation of Jewish congregations and a long-time center of Reform Judaism. Long a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the principal organization of Reform Jewish rabbis in the United States, Feldman rose in 1947 to become its President.

From 1952-1957, he served as President of the Synagogue Council of America, a joint organization of Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish communities which acted to coordinate Jewish life and activities in America. The organization did more than act as facilitator of activities and dialogue between the branches of American Judaism, it made the world outside aware of Jewish concerns. In addition, he participated in Zionist activities, and was on the publications committee of Jewish Publication Society and the National Committee of the Jewish Book Council of America. A prolific writer, Feldman penned more than 26 books, pamphlets, and articles.

Rabbi Feldman had a small but significant correspondence from three presidents on such topics as the contributions of Jews to American society, the refuge that the United States has provided, and their advocacy and defense of American institutions.”

The prized piece this week a document signed by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. This is a document stating the appointment of “David Porter” to “Master of a Revenue Cutter. This historical autograph is valued at up to $35,000 and will sell at auction for what is a great price. As described in the catalog:

“George Washington & Thomas Jefferson Signed

“Master of a Revenue Cutter” Appointment of “David Porter”

Commander of The United States Revenue Cutter “Active”

Commissioned on April 9, 1791 at Baltimore, MD.

David Porter was the Head of What is Arguably America’s Most Famous Naval Family
GEORGE WASHINGTON and THOMAS JEFFERSON. 1st United States of America President and Secretary of State.
July 1, 1792-Dated Federal Period, Partially-Printed Document Signed, “G. Washington” as President and also Signed, “Th. Jefferson” as Secretary of State, Very Fine. This original Document being the official Appointment of: “… David Porter of Maryland – I Do Appoint him Master of a Cutter in the Service of the United States, for the Protection of the Revenue…”. David Porter was originally appointed First Mate as an Officer of the Revenue Cutter on March 21, 1791, here officially becoming appointed as the Master of the Cutter on July 1, 1792. Porter took Command as Master of the Cutter “Active” on August 5, 1792. This historic and exceedingly rare early United States Revenue Service, Naval Master for the Second Naval Ship commissioned into the service, official Presidential Appointment measures 9.5” x 14.5” (by sight) and is professionally matted and nicely framed to overall size of 18” x 22”.

This George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Signed Document has a nicely presented framed appearance for display. It is very well printed with rich black text on a clean, heavy laid period paper. It has been folded, with some heavier wear with minor splits along the vertical centerfold. The full 3” wide in diameter, white paper and wax Official Seal of the United States with its Embossed American Heraldic Eagle Federal design, is fully intact and sharply detailed at lower left. The signature of President George Washington is very clear, measuring a large 3.75” long, having a trivial disturbance just above “him” at the midpoint of his last name, being nearly invisible surface thin. The signature of Thomas Jefferson is nice and clear, well written, on a clean portion of the paper, allowing for its very choice appearance, measuring a large 2.25” long, located directly below the signature of George Washington.

This Captain and Master David Porter, is the Elder (1754-1807). He is the father of the famous American Admiral of Civil War fame, David Dixon Porter, Jr. (1813-1891), and his second son was William David Porter (1808-1864) who was a flag officer of the United States Navy, and his other adopted son, David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870), is most remembered in popular culture for his order at the Battle of Mobile Bay, usually paraphrased: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” went on to become one of the most famous of all historic American Naval Commanders. All of this related Porter family United States Naval History making this original Presidential Appointment all the more historic!

Of special note, in an extraordinary twist of fate, the first Master of the United States Revenue Cutter (USRC) “Active”, Captain Simon Gross (Master 1791-June 1792) much later in his life actually served along with David Porter Junior, both then being officers of Lieutenant rank aboard a Navy Ship commanded by Captain Thomas Truxton. Simon Gross picked a fight with, of all people, David Porter Junior after having made some rather “insulting” remarks about Porter’s father, who, it will be remembered, was Gross’s “first mate” on the Revenue Cutter Active! After a fist fight between the two ensued, Gross was summarily dismissed from the service. (Amazing yet true.)

An exceedingly Presidential Appointment and a rare form, Signed by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and for the Master of the Second United States Revenue Cutter in the service, stationed at Baltimore, Maryland. This important Document is housed in a lovely custom frame under UV Plexiglas that is ready for presentation and display.
The United States Revenue Cutter Service was established by an act of Congress on 4 August 1790 as the Revenue-Marine upon the recommendation of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton to serve as an armed customs enforcement service. As time passed, the service gradually gained missions either voluntarily or by legislation, including those of a military nature. It was generally referred to as the Revenue-Marine until July 1894, when it was officially renamed as the Revenue Cutter Service.

Between 1790 and 1798, the Revenue-Marine was the only armed maritime service of the United States, as the Navy had been disbanded. Each cutter master was answerable to and received his sailing orders directly from the Collector of Customs of the port to which his ship was assigned. All crew pay, requests for supplies, arrangements for repairs to the cutter, and mission-specific tasking came directly from the port’s Customs House. After the Slave Trade Act of 1794 was enacted, the Revenue-Marine began intercepting slave ships illegally importing slaves into the United States.

The Revenue Cutter Service operated under the authority of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. On January 28, 1915, the service was merged by an act of Congress with the United States Life-Saving Service to form the United States Coast Guard. One of the First Ten United States Revenue Cutters, the “Active” was considered the Second of those Ten Cutters to enter active service. The Columbian Centinel on 30 April 1791 noted:

“A Revenue Cutter, was launched at Baltimore the 9th inst. at Captain Stodder’s Ship Yard, and is considered by good judges, a beautiful vessel. She is to be commanded, we hear, by Capt. Gross, formerly First-Lieutenant of the Continental Frigate CONFEDERACY.”

For more historic information, please read our extensive story about the United States Revenue Service Cutter “Active,” her crew and history, as documented on the Internet.

Operational history:

The Cutter “Active” almost never made it into the water. Apparently no shipbuilder in the Baltimore area was willing to build a cutter for the price offered by the government. Eventually, after an exasperated Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton offered to increase the payment by no more than 10 percent and then threatened to have the Maryland cutter built in Virginia, David Stodder, of Baltimore, agreed to build the revenue cutter for the government’s asking price.

She was laid down in January 1791 and her keel entered the water on 9 April of that same year. When she was sold out of government service in 1798, she was described as having a “square stern, a square tuck, no galleries and no figurehead.” She was a two-masted topsail schooner with a single deck. It is also known how she was initially outfitted and equipped thanks to the survival of a letter from her first Master, Simon Gross, to Alexander Hamilton.

Personnel problems:

“Active” seemed to have been plagued with problems from the start. For the first few months of her existence she remained tied up in port. Master Simon Gross, a man of known intemperance, had trouble hiring a crew at the wages the government offered. The pay in the merchant service proved to be much more lucrative. Gross also did not get along with his first mate. These problems manifested themselves, despite the name of the cutter, in a decided lack of activity. Baltimore’s Collector of Customs complained that merchant vessel manifests, supplied to the Active by incoming ships, did not reach his desk for weeks, if at all.

Relative incompetence amongst the officers and difficulty obtaining a full crew continually troubled the revenue cutter throughout its service life. Indeed, the collector wrote Hamilton in disgust that the cutter was “of no more advantage to the United States and perhaps much less, than if she had been built and manned on the lake Erie.”

Gross and Porter both saw fit to leave the cutter under the command of the second mate on numerous occasions, thereby adding to the frustration of the collector and the Secretary of the Treasury as well. Gross submitted his resignation in the summer of 1792 and John Porter, with the recommendation of President George Washington, assumed command of the lackluster Active. Even the President seemed satisfied that Gross was leaving government service. He noted in a letter that, “…the service would sustain no loss by the resignation of the Master of the Maryland Revenue Cutter.”

Little seemed to change under the command of Porter although he did complain that his third mate, Forbes, had difficulty staying away from the bottle, as apparently did some of the other crewmen. Many of the crew were also unhappy with the daily ration allowance and poor pay and as such Porter, as did Gross, had trouble finding crewmen. He wrote to Hamilton asking for an increase, and Hamilton promptly raised the daily ration allowance from nine cents to 12.

It is not certain if this solved Porter’s problems but Porter once again asked for a greater increase in both the pay and ration allowances. This, however, was not the way to endear him to the parsimonious Secretary of the Treasury. But one wonders if Porter really cared at all. Despite his apparent concern for the welfare of his men and attention to duty, Hamilton was perplexed at the obvious inaction of the cutter, its commanding officer, and even his collector of customs.

According to Kern, for the next few years Porter rarely sailed on Active, rather, he let the first mate handle command of the cutter–if she sailed on patrol at all. He did sail to the West Indies with his son, twice in 1796, but not on board his cutter. He sailed on board a merchant vessel in which he had a monetary stake. Whether he had permission to leave his duty post and what occurred on board the cutter while he was way is unknown.

Unfortunately her journals have not survived the ravages of the British Army, which burned Washington, D.C. in 1814, and the later fire at the Treasury Department in 1833, so there is little documentation regarding her accomplishments or conversely, explaining her inaction. But Hamilton’s letters have survived and he was not overly pleased with his Baltimore based cutter. Indeed, when ordered to sell the Active in 1798, Porter could not locate her! He eventually found her grounded in the mud of the riverbank outside of Baltimore Harbor. She was sold at auction for $750.00 and her new owners sailed her to the West Indies and promptly sold her once again. Interestingly, Porter stayed on the federal payroll for another year after his cutter had been sold.

The cast of characters who paraded on, around, and nowhere near her decks continued to lead rather interesting lives. Porter went back into the merchant trade after failing to secure a commission in the Navy and ran into trouble in the courts under suspicion of barratry and fraud. He was apparently not convicted and he eventually received a naval commission as the sailing master of gunboat based at New Orleans in 1807–under the overall command of his son!

It seems that David Junior joined the Navy as a midshipman at the age of nineteen and went on to have a distinguished career. Indeed, he became one of the Navy’s most celebrated heroes, as did his two sons and his adopted son, David Glasgow Farragut. Not so the first master of the Active, Simon Gross. Gross had secured a commission as a first lieutenant in the Navy after leaving the Active, only to earn the wrath of another famous naval personage, Captain Thomas Truxton, who admonished him that “every drunkard is a Nuisance and no drunkard ought to be employ’d and if employ’d Shall ever remain an officer with me.” He later picked a fight with, of all people, David Porter, Junior, when they were both lieutenants.

Gross made some rather “insulting” remarks about Porter’s father, who, it will be remembered, was Gross’s first mate on the Active! After a fistfight, Gross was dismissed from the service and he then enlisted as a seaman in the Navy. The last anyone heard of him he was an oarsman on an officer’s barge.

Commanding Officers:

Captain Simon Gross, Master; 1791-1792

Captain David Porter, Master; 1792-1798

Original Crew:

David Porter, First Mate William Thomas, Second Mate James Forbes, Third Mate; replaced by William Dunton when Forbes moved to second mate in 1792. is presenting online viewing of the February 16th ,2017 Auction from RR Auction. This auction catalog has over 500 lots available for viewing with an incredible array of autographs and artifacts available for bidding through the auctioneer. This incredible auction chronicles popular music from ’60s greats like Jimi Hendrix to modern legends such as Prince. With subsets of jazz, blues, and punk rock, this is an all-encompassing auction that will appeal to any music collector. Headlining the sale are a robust section of Prince autographs and personal memorabilia sourced from his assistants, and a large selection of material from the Joey Ramone Estate. RR Auction is a globally recognized and trusted auction house specializing in historical autographs and artifacts.”
The full catalog is showing on up until March 18th, 2017. Interested bidders can contact the auctioneer through the website or via phone to have all questions and diligence taken care of. Early American carefully prepared this incredible catalog and look forward to sharing these treasures with collectors and historians around the world.

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