WILLIAM BLACKSTONE. English jurist. Partly printed Document Signed, one page, octavo, February 15, 1773. “Let the def[endant’]s attorney or agent attend me at my chambers in Sergeants Inn tomorrow morning at 9 of the clock in the forenoon to show cause why the def[endan]t should not have till ten o’clock same day to plead … [ Read More ]
Collectible Autographs from Crime and Law
Autograph signatures and signed letters of outlaws and criminals have always fascinated collectors , but the short life spans and long prison terms endemic to this career pursuit, along with illiteracy, have made their autograph signatures and any other signed pieces very rare. Jesse James left fewer autograph pieces than he did victims, and it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity if one were to become available. Jesse’s brother, Frank James, his compatriot in outlaw pursuits, survived, and after a prison term, he repented his outlaw ways. He did not give autograph signatures to people, but he did write letters that have been saved, and although quite rare, they occasionally become available. The other famous outlaws of this period all died violent deaths or did not survive prison, with the exception of Emmett Dalton, who did write signed letters after his release from prison. They are quite rare, but it is possible to find one.
Autograph signatures and other signed pieces of the great bank robbers and gangsters of the 1920s and 30s are all very rare. John Dillinger signed only a few letters and other pieces, and while Al Capone may have been willing to sign autographs, it does not appear that many people had the nerve to ask him. Bonnie and Clyde are almost unknown in autograph signatures
Many of the lawmen from the 19th century were straddling both sides of the law, but the fact that they were on the right side at some point resulted in signed documents, though all of them are very rare now. Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Pat Garrett very rarely come on the autograph signature market. The only lawman whose autograph signature and signed letters are plentiful is J. Edgar Hoover, the founding director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His long life and his position as head of the FBI resulted in many autograph signed pieces, and a nearly total lack of interest among collectors has caused them to continue to be available.
THE PERPETRATOR OF THE NORTH POLE HOAX PLEADS FROM PRISON FOR CLEMENCY American arctic explorer; he claimed to have reached the North Pole April 21, 1908 ahead of Peary; denounced by Peary and his claim rejected as fraudulent, on grounds of insufficient evidence, by scientists aT Copenhagen. Partly printed Typewritten Document Signed, seven pages, … [ Read More ]
Frontier lawman; killed Billy the Kid. Arrest Warrant Signed, “Pat F Garrett / Sheriff of Lincoln County,” July 24, 1882, octavo. The warrant is for the arrest of Ed L. House who is accused of “willfully and maliciously” killing one Juan Chavis of Pino on July 20, 1882. The Warrant, written by Frank H. Sea, … [ Read More ]
Western outlaw; together with his brothers committed numerous robberies and murders throughout the frontier. Autograph Note Signed, Jim, one page, octavo, Minnesota State Prison, [Oct. 1899], To Carano. “This might be of service to you some day – by way of identification in a strange place.” A fine example. Following the Civil War, Jim Younger … [ Read More ]
FRANK JAMES. Desperado; robbed banks and trains together with his brother Jesse. Letter Signed, Ben, one half page, at the conclusion of a five and a half page letter from his friend, Mrs. Sam Gilkey written to Mr. and Mrs. James, octavo, Gallatin, Missouri, July 7, . To his wife, Annie James. With original envelope. … [ Read More ]
President of the Continental Congress; first Chief Justice of the United States; first Minister of Foreign Affairs; negotiated the Jay Treaty of 1794. Autograph Letter Signed, two pages, quarto, New Haven, [Connecticut], April 24, 1792. To his wife Sally. “My last to you was written at Bedford; which place I left yesterday, and arrived here … [ Read More ]
President of the Continental Congress; first Chief Justice of the United States; first Minister of Foreign Affairs; negotiated with Franklin and Adams the Treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolution; co-authored the Federalist Papers; negotiated the Jay Treaty of 1794; governor of New York. Autograph Manuscript, one and a half pages, legal folio, undated. … [ Read More ]
THE DOCUMENT THAT CREATED BOND STREET [LONDON]. SIR THOMAS CLARGES. Justice of the Peace for Westminster. Document Signed, T Clarges, one page, quarto, April 18, 1720. With the integral docketed leaf attached. A “Certificate” for paving new streets in London. “…Pursuant to an Act of Parliam[en]t made in the second year of the Reigne of … [ Read More ]
JOHN MARSHALL. Chief Justice of the United States. Autograph Letter Signed, “J. Marshall,” one page, quarto, undated. To Walter L. Fontaine. “I have received your letter inclosing the half of a note of one hundred dollars and I now inclose one of the halves before sent.” In 1816, while Chief Justice, Marshall sold 421 acres … [ Read More ]
Document, issued in the name of Queen Anne, of England, one page, folio, [15 by 17 1/2 inches], on vellum, May 15, 1703. A land grant in favor of William Lawrents for a small island containing about eight acres, sitting at the mouth of Little Spillgate, and between great and Little Agazzi Islands in the … [ Read More ]
SUPREME COURT. Vinson Court. Mimeographed memo, issued from the “Chambers of the Chief Justice,” endorsed with the initials of the eight associate justices of the Vinson Court, next to their printed names, one page, small octavo, June 11, 1947. The associate justices’s initials indicate that they have “approved” the item which was circulated. Signatures represented … [ Read More ]