Handwritten letter by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to Gen. Robert E. Lee


(Atlanta, Ga.) – A letter handwritten by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to Gen. Robert E. Lee on April 10, 1865, discussing terms of surrender of the Confederate Army and originally penned at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, will be sold the weekend of August 4-5 by Gallery 63. The letter was consigned by a Texas woman and was authenticated by the late Civil War historian Shelby Foote.

“This may very well be the most important document to come on the market in the last fifty years,” said Paul Brown of Gallery 63. “It truly belongs in the National Archives. It was, in effect, the document that saved our great land. It is not in Washington, it is not in New York. Amazingly, it is at Gallery 63 and will be sold to the highest bidder.” Brown estimated the letter could bring $500,000.

It is believed the letter is a handwritten copy of the original document, presented by Grant to Lee the day after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va., on April 9, 1865. Grant wrote the copy, it is assumed, for posterity’s sake. Mr. Foote, writing in 1991, remarked, “It is almost certainly Grant’s. I incline to the belief he wrote it either on the train back to City Point or up the coast to Washington.”

Fittingly, the letter will be sold in Atlanta, a city closely linked to the Civil War, mainly because of Sherman’s march through Georgia and the movie “Gone With the Wind.” Remarkably, it is not the only major Civil War item that will cross the block that weekend. Gallery 63 is also offering an original period steel engraving of Robert E. Lee, exceedingly rare and bearing General Lee’s signature.

Another historical consignment has also been secured: a trove of over 20 original audio and video tapes of speeches, sermons, hearings and interviews originally aired in the 1960s and pertaining mostly to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (some of the tapes also concern John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy). They came from the estate of Jerry Tucker, a former newsman at WNOO in Chattanooga.

On one tape, Dr. King sits for an interview with Tucker, an event that was broadcast once, in 1960, and never aired again. It is the only reel of the interview that exists. Also, a letter, written on Southern Christian Leadership Conference letterhead, thanking an organizer of a banquet honoring Dr. King for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, will be sold as a separate lot, along with an original invitation to that dinner.

Other noteworthy consignments include:

Fine art, a staple at Gallery 63 sales, will be served up in abundance. Leading the way will be an original watercolor by Montague Dawson (British, 1895-1973), titled “Sailing Ship in Rough Seas” and signed lower right; and a watercolor rendering of a Swiss landscape with figures and a cabin by the renowned landscape painter Joseph Mallard William Turner (British, 1775-1851), also signed.

Other noteworthy lots in the fine art group include a pastel by Edward Dufner (American, 1872-1957), signed and titled “Children Playing by the Edge of a Stream” (13″ x 17″); a watercolor by Ogden Pleissner (American, 1905-1983), signed and titled “Landscape With a Stream” (14″ x 18″); and a watercolor by Arthur Dove (American, 1890-1946), signed and titled, simply, “Sunrise” (12″ x 15″).

A Tiffany Studios Peony floor lamp with notarized provenance would be rare at any sale, but such an item has been consigned to Gallery 63 and will be sold. The stained glass and bronze floor lamp features a domical, waisted shade with a profusion of variegated reds, pinks, greens and aquas. The lamp has been in the same family for multiple generations. It is 70″ tall, with a diameter of 22″.

Fine period furniture pieces will include a rosewood bed in the Rococo Revival style, likely executed by John Henry Belter and once housed in the famous Kingsford Mansion in New York (100″ h x 63″ w x 82″ l); a Biedermeier fall front walnut secretary, with bone estuceans (76″ h x 39″ w); and a museum-quality American Baroque quarter sawn oak buffet by R. J. Horner of New York.
Rare and one-of-a-kind items will include a monumental Murano chandelier, originally from a prominent Venetian pallazzo; an antique player piano and organ with multiple automata, pipes, bells and drums, signed Hobart M. Cable Chicago and in storage since the late ’70s; an Otto Altenburg 5′ baby grand piano in immaculate black lacquer; and a blue 1974 Triumph TR-6 convertible, restored.

Architectural pieces will include four monumental walnut lion panels (American, late 19th century), each with a regal, mid-relief lion mask flanked by trailing floral swags (118″ h x 51″ w each); and a set of four doors, originally installed in the music room of a magnificent chateau in the Loire Valley of France and later incorporated into a prominent home in Malibu, Calif. (116″ h x 108″ w).

From the militaria and weapons category, highlights are expected to include a full-size replica of a Gatling gun in bronze, with carriage, drum magazine and moving crank action; carved Indian and carved military mess kits; swords; a rare Alabama Kentucky rifle made by D. Evans; and a matched pair of consecutively numbered Colt Derringer pistols, in the original Colt leather-bound case.

This is just the fourth sale that Gallery 63 will have held in its new location. The firm was previously located at 6363 Roswell Road (hence the name), about three miles away, but rapid growth necessitated a move. An inaugural sale at the new, larger facility (a former church and fellowship hall) was held in early spring. Gallery 63 is the consignment arm of Atlanta auction powerhouse Red Baron.

To learn more about Gallery 63, or for directions and more information about the upcoming August 4-5 sale, you may visit the firm online at www.Gallery63.net. Gallery 63 is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, estate or collection, you may call the firm directly, at (404) 252-2555. You can also reach them through e-mail, at Rbaron2@bellsouth.net.

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1 Comment

  1. Hugh L. Gordon

    I have a civil rights era history collection developed through intensive research and personal knowledge over the past 40 years. It is the story of voluntary vs compusory integration of the Southern workplace. The book, when published , will be a reevisionary history of the three decade civill rights era. The collection of approxmately 20 liner feet contains a treasure-trove of archive print, photo, and audio items. One of several considerations is to sell the collection. For more info, please call me at 770 973 2919.
    Hugh L. Gordon

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