On a September day in 1864, Confederate Private J.J. Veeck found himself in the vortex of history. The Battle of Harrisonburg, Virginia was brief, but would turn the tide of the Civil War.
In the chaos, as George Custer, Stonewall Jackson, and future President Rutherford B. Hayes clashed around him, Veeck was captured.
And his prized engraved revolver, made by Rudolf Eickemeyer - the number-thirteen all-time patent holder in U.S. history - was lost.
Unearthed over a century later, the revolver is among nearly 500 lots of historical documents and collectibles to appear in the traditional mail-phone auction ending January 31, conducted by Cohasco, Inc. of Yonkers, N.Y. The revolver’s presale estimate is $4500-6500.
Private Veeck’s unit, the 30th North Carolina, claimed to have fired the last shot of the Civil War.
Every one of the 49 months of the Civil War is represented in the sale, including original battle letters, military documents, newspapers, and other items. Just a few highlights:
• An offering of 40 postally-used Confederate and Union covers from an old collection, including one to an Irish immigrant in New York arriving the day before the Civil War began ($125-150), and another from a Texas Ranger killed in action fighting for the South ($350-450). The selection includes a variety of adversity materials used for home-made Confederate covers, including wallpaper, wrapping paper, military forms, and crude papers;
• Diary of a draft dodger from Pennsylvania, fleeing during the Draft Riots ($1600-2200);
• Among nearly 50 Northern and Southern letters, in January 1865, a woman writes from North Carolina,“...almost cut off from the world...Our dear home, once the abode of peace and plenty, is now laid in ashes...The flames...rolled from street to street...The chimneys and burnt trees stand as monuments of the past...” ($550-750);
• Autograph album of about 300 signatures of the Congress just preceding Lincoln’s inauguration, including Jefferson Davis and many future Confederate officers and statesmen ($14,500-17,500);
• Postally used 1864 Lincoln campaign envelope, in unrecorded color, postmarked five days before the historic election ($750-950).
In thirty other historical fields:
• All three elements of the notorious Triangle Trade are contained in a rare 1768 letter. It illustrates the three-way trade of slaves from Africa, for rum, and “good sugars” at St. Croix and Newport, Rhode Island. The prominent slave ship owner abandoned his ships, warehouses and home in 1776, to join the American fight for independence ($4000-6000);
• An archive “drenched in the blood, sweat and tears of the Old South” tells the story of economic growth and human suffering, spanning 1793-1859. For example, a Richmond letter of 1849 describes two black men placed on a railroad train in a crate by a white man, in an attempt to transport them to freedom (archive, $48,000-65,000);
• The miraculously-surviving hand-tooled mess kit of a World War II hero named “Wing” Eagle, possibly Native American, carved while in captivity at Bataan, Corregidor, and in Japanese slave labor camps (with photos, medals, and documents, $2100-2500);
• Volume of one of the first successful American magazines, 1792, proudly noting that the national debt has been reduced to $400,000 ($750-950);
• Collection of a saga of Antarctica, Operation Deepfreeze, called “perhaps the single most striking international scientific endeavor of the twentieth century” ($8500-10,500), and a Navy flying suit designed for polar missions, with plug and hundreds of wires for electric heating woven into fabric ($450-550);
• 1768 document for land sold by a free black man in New Hampshire, signed with his “X” ($275-350);
• Gold Rush ledger from the California town that was literally at the end of the road. Known as “Bagdad,” for its exotic connotations, North Fork, Calif. was notorious for its mingling of American, German, Mexican, and Chinese adventurers ($1600-2400);
• Extremely scarce “Bickerstaff’s Boston Almanack” of 1779 ($2250-2750);
• Exquisite proof of vignette used on $500 bill ($1900-2500);
• Enormous map of coal fields of Pennsylvania, 1890, measuring 4 by 21 feet ($475-675);
• Fascinating letter shedding light on the story that John Wilkes Booth escaped, and lived in Oklahoma til 1903 under the name St. George, who recited Shakespeare, had a limp, and would drink himself into a stupor every April 14th - the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination ($150-200);
• Significant document providing financing for the first nail factory in America, 1795, in Ramapo, N.Y., signed by inventor ($950-1450);
• Rare 1881 Wells, Fargo express cover to Vulture City, Arizona Territory ($950-1250);
• And many other items.
All items are fully described at cohascodpc.com. A free 152-page printed catalogue is available by mail, while supplies last.
About Cohasco, Inc.
Established 66 years, Cohasco (CohascoDPC.com) is a dealer in and auctioneer of historical documents, manuscripts, books, antiquarian materials and collectibles. Over the years they have handled the sale of numerous prominent collections, in a range of fields, from colonial to Confederate, mediaeval to modern. Past highlights included the lamps that illuminated Lincoln’s wedding, an archive of the Duryea, America’s first “mass-produced” automobile, and the Bible owned by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother, setting a world record price for a twentieth-century Bible.