A letter written and signed by Abraham Lincoln months prior to his election as President of the United States recently sold in South Carolina at auction for $18,720 (including 17% Buyer’s Premium).
A South Carolina woman inherited the letter from her father, but was unaware of its true monetary value until she brought it to a Myrtle Beach taping of PBS’s Antiques Roadshow in June 2012 (aired February 2013). Her father collected autographs and, although uncertain of when or where her father acquired it, she believed this Lincoln letter had been previously appraised for several hundred dollars.
Following the Antiques Roadshow appraisal, the letter was sent to the Indiana State Museum and then put up for auction at Charlton Hall Auctioneers in West Columbia, South Carolina, when it sold in March 2013.
Addressed to “Hon. William Jones”, the letter is fully intact and, considering its June 18, 1860 date, is in overall good condition with the exception of light toning and fading.
William Jones, a merchant in Indiana, was Lincoln’s first employer after his family moved to Indiana. A Whig representative, Jones was rumored to have influenced Lincoln politically and had an extensive library which he encouraged Lincoln to read. He became a supporter of Lincoln’s and was later killed in the Battle of Atlanta in which he fought as a Lieutenant Colonel for the Union Army. The home of William Jones is now a historic site and tourist attraction in Gentryville, Indiana due to his close ties to Lincoln.
The letter was written merely a month after Lincoln accepted his nomination as Republican candidate for the presidential election of 1860. Lincoln surpassed early favorite William Seward as the Republican nominee on May 18, 1860 at the Republican National Convention, hosted in Lincoln’s home state of Illinois. In the letter, Lincoln declines an invitation to visit Jones and other old Indiana friends, due to time constraints resulting from his campaign. Just five months later, Abraham Lincoln won the electoral majority and thereby became the 16th President of the United States, a country on the verge of civil war.
Kathryn Keenan Conley
Charlton Hall Auctioneers
7 Lexington Dr.
West Columbia, SC 29170