Rare and mysterious autograph album spanning 200 years hits auction block

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Rare and mysterious autograph album spanning 200 years hits auction block
From industrialists to inventors, US Presidents to social reformers, authors and actors, – Colorado’s Lafayette F. Cornwell’s unique album is a remarkable march of time.

NEW YORK, NY.- Lion Heart Autographs, the internationally recognized dealer of autographs and manuscripts specializing in art, history, literature, music and science has announced an extraordinary auction of the world’s most comprehensive autograph album that chronicles events penned by important historical figures whose lives collectively span 200 years.

On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET, Lion Heart Autographs will offer Lafayette F. Cornwell’s unique autograph album, an assemblage of personalities that stands head and shoulders above any other collection ever to appear on the market and offers a remarkable glimpse into one man’s passion and determination to seek out the signatures and musings of prominent figures from all walks of life and who helped shape America’s rich culture. Over 400 entries have been strategically gathered like a time capsule into Cornwell’s leather-bound album and spans from the earliest entry in 1880 to most present in 1930.

The range and rarity of the autographs and sentiments penned by many well-known American personalities also includes foreign celebrities who visited the U. S. Cornwell’s unrelenting efforts to obtain their autographs, doubtlessly in person, is astonishing.

The collection of these 400 examples is especially unusual, mysterious and of great interest to collectors, because it boggles the imagination as to how Cornwell, a jeweler by trade, gained access to all these celebrities, many of whom led very private lives. Throughout this precious album, signatures are often combined on the same or facing page with those of others in similar or related fields – though sometimes separated by months, years, or even decades.

The leather-bound album includes the signatures of no less than eight presidents including Grant, Hayes, Arthur, Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson and Hoover as well as several First Ladies: Mary Lincoln, who signed her name with a very rare form for her signature, “Mrs. Abraham Lincoln,” Julia Grant, Lucy Hayes, Lucretia Garfield, and Lou Hoover. Additionally, there are Union and Confederate Generals (Sherman, Sheridan, Beauregard and Johnston), Explorers (Stanley, Byrd and Amundsen), Opera Singers, Inventors (Steinmetz and Edison), and Celebrities (Harry Houdini, Rudolph Valentino and “Buffalo Bill” Cody). Many famous women are also represented including Lucy Stone, Helen Keller, Jane Addams, Amelia Earhart, and the great Sarah Bernhardt. Industrialist Peter Cooper, WWI ace Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, literary greats Oscar Wilde and Herman Melville, and many others. Highlights are listed below.

Cornwell began collecting the signatures of personalities who lived or performed in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY, in December, 1880. In 1889, he moved to Colorado and in 1896, he set up a jewelry store in Pueblo. Cornwell made a name for himself and was considered one of the finest watchmakers in the West. He became the assistant chief watch inspector for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Missouri Pacific, and Colorado and Southern Railroad, which offered him access to train travel across the country where he would inevitably meet many of the people represented throughout the album. Cornwell did not collect autographs in a typical, chronological order. He purposely asked signers to inscribe their names and sentiments in different parts of his album, either purposely selected at the moment or asked that the signature be added to blank pages where Cornwell reserved space for future contributors so that a signature was or could be shared with a person in a related profession or endeavor.

An example of Cornwell’s determination can be illustrated by his ability to approach and then obtain the signatures of aviators, Fitzmaurice, Koehl and Huenefeld on the same day as their New York City ticker tape parade, April 30, 1928, which celebrated the first East-West fight across the Atlantic Ocean. Equally perplexing is to grasp the remarkable fact that Cornwell’s unique album spans a period from a person born during the presidency of George Washington to someone who died during the term of George H.W. Bush.

“I’ve had many opportunities to sell great autographs and documents over 40 years, but never before have I offered such a monumental autograph album spanning so many years and containing so many important people. By all accounts, Cornwell was a remarkable man who, over 50 years, meticulously collected autographs with the vision to assemble his collection in a special way. He included extraordinary people from different walks of life and professions, paying a great deal of attention to creating an album that veered away from the merely chronological towards the contextual. I am still stunned at Cornwell’s ability, nearly Zelig-like, to be at places where many famous individuals appeared and then combine them with other signatures, obtained on the same day, but at a different place. This album, without a doubt, is among the most spectacular items I have ever handled. Lion Heart Autographs is privileged to offer this unique autograph album at our upcoming auction on October 21, 2020.” – David Lowenherz, President, Lion Heart Autographs

Additional outstanding highlights of the album include:

• Frederic A. Bartholdi. French sculptor of the Statue of Liberty who signed Cornwell’s album with many other French officials during the statue’s opening in 1886.

• Annie Jump Cannon. American astronomer who developed the Harvard Classification, and remains one of America’s leading women astronomers.

• Aviators Fitzmaurice, Koehl, and Huenefeld, who signed Cornwell’s album the day of their NY ticker tape parade that celebrated their historic East to West flight across the Atlantic Ocean; Amelia Earhart on the day she received an award from New York City, and 14 other famous pilots.

• Celebrities and Sports Figures William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Harry Houdini, race car driver Barney Oldfield, boxers Jack Dempsey, “Fireman Jim” Flynn and Bob Fitzsimmons and many more.

• Composers and Musicians John Philip Sousa (with bars of music from “The Stars and Stripes Forever”), Vladimir de Pachmann, Josef Hofmann, Leopold Godowsky and nine more.

• Explorers Isaac Israel Hayes, John W. Danenhower, Henry M. Stanley, Frederick Cook, Adolphus Greeley, Roald Amundsen and eight more.

•First Ladies and First Families including Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Mary Lincoln, Margaret Woodrow Wilson and many more.

• Illustrators and Cartoonists including John T. McCutcheon, Will B. Johnstone and Doc Bird Finch.

•Inventor, Financiers, Industrialists and Philanthropists such as John Jacob Bausch (Bausch & Lomb) Peter Cooper, Thomas Edison Cyrus W. Field, Guglielmo Marconi, Elisha Gray, Charles Steinmetz, Jay Gould, Richard Gatling, George M. Pullman, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Thomas Lipton, George Eastman, Ferdinand de Lesseps, and 21 more.

•Lawyers Delphin M. Delmas, Clarence Darrow and Frederic R. Coudert, and more.

• Military figures and Medal of Honor Recipients such Winfield Scott Schley, William T. Sherman, Leonard Wood, Nathaniel P. Banks, John J. Pershing, PGT Beauregard, Viscount Allenby, Abner Doubleday, Joseph E. Johnston, Benjamin Butler, and 12 more.

• Opera Singers Amelita Galli-Curci, Minnie Hauk, Mary Garden, Luisa Tetrazzini, Alma Gluck, Adelina Patti, Lilian Nordica, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Geraldine Farrar, and many more

• Performers of Stage and Screen Joseph Jefferson, Fanny Davenport, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, Sarah Bernhardt, Edwin Booth, Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, Tom Mix, and many more.

• Politicians and Statesmen including William J. Bryan, Alfred E. Smith, Robert G. Ingersoll, Charles G. Dawes, Thurlow Weed, Henry L. Stimson, Eamon de Valera, James G. Blaine, Ignacy Paderewski, Sir Oswald Mosley, and 61 more.

• Religious and Social Service Figures like Howard Crosby, Henry Ward Beecher, Fanny Crosby, Joseph F. Smith, Aimee Semple McPherson, Dwight Moody, Edward Kimball, Ellen Maria Stone, Billy Sunday, Evangeline Booth, David Starr Jordan, Isabela Beecher Hooker, Jane Addams, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Annie Besant, Lucy Stone, Samuel Gompers, Helen Keller, and 33 more.

• Writers including, Horatio Alger, Lincoln Steffens, Charles Dudley Warner, Walt Whitman, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Herman Melville, Julia Ward Howe, Louisa May Alcott, Matthew Arnold, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and 26 more.

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