John Nicolay, Original Manuscript Galley for Lincoln’s Literary Experiments, Signed


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This 28-page manuscript is neatly written on folio, blue-lined paper and contains numbers of pages bearing (clipped) printed versions of various Lincoln speeches and lectures:  They include “Lecture on ‘Discoveries, Inventions and Improvements,’ Delivered Before the Springfield Library Association . . . February 22, 1860,” two lecture fragments, and two letters containing lengthy poetic passages.  It ends with a large, careful Nicolay signature.

“In these extracts Lincoln gives us certainly not the full picture, but at least a vivid suggestion of the early influences acting upon his intellectual development,” writes Nicolay, who goes on to suggest both the inner and outside societal influences on Lincoln’s character and his writing.  “It will thus be seen that in the course of his self-education, Lincoln from time to time engaged in composition as an art. As a further illustration of this practice, a few specimens are here for the first time printed of what may be appropriately classed as his ‘literary experiments.'”

 In writing about the Cooper Union talk, Nicolay concludes, “(it) showed that he had trained himself for better uses than writing newspaper verses, describing Niagara, or extolling the material achievements of Young America. A gigantic moral and patriotic crusade was about to open, to which his thoughts, his words, his patience, his will, were destined to give voice, courage, perseverance, victory.”

 The pages show many signs of handling by the Century Magazine’s publishing staff. They include marginal editing and notations, printing marks, and ink smudges left by those manning the printing presses.

This came out the same year that Nicolay and John Hay edited Lincoln’s 2-volume COMPLETE WORKS,” also published by The Century Company.   A handwritten business card of Frank J. Hogan, tipped onto the front flyleaf, gifts this to Estelle Doheny.  Hogan was a lawyer who served as president of the American Bar Association.  He represented several high-profile clients, including President Warren G. Harding, banker Andrew Mellon, and oil tycoon Edward Doheny. This book was deaccessioned from his wife’s library. Carrie Estelle Doheny was a renowned collector of books with a particular interest in Bibles, most notably the Guttenberg Bible, which she owned for decades. In 1983, 25 years after her death, her gift to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles became unrestricted and was liquidated. During the two years of auctions in New York, London, and Paris, her collection at the Edward Laurence Doheny Memorial Library ultimately realized upwards of $34 million.

JOHN NICOLAY. Original Manuscript Galley, Lincoln’s Literary Experiments, signed “John Nicolay”.   Originally published in The Century Magazine [April 1894, v. 47, no. 6; pages 823-832] Printed with the subtitle, With a Lecture and Verses Hitherto Unpublished.  [Not in Monaghan!]  Bound in full leather with raised bands and gilt titling on both the spine and the front board; leather dentelles; top edge gilt.  De-accessioned from the Estelle Doheny library (leather bookplate).  Two engravings of Lincoln, one un-bearded and one bearded and each bearing a printed facsimile of Lincoln’s signature, serve as dual frontispieces.

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