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Lot 60: ABRAHAM LINCOLN Rare 1834 Early Manuscript Land Survey All In Lincoln's Hand
29 October 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Extremely Rare "A. Lincoln" Signed Early Manuscript Land Survey Document Fully Written in Abraham Lincoln's Hand
ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865). Sixteenth President of the United States, serving from throughout the American Civil War until his Assassination at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth in April of 1865.
September 5, 1834-Dated, Manuscript Document Signed, "A. Lincoln," as Deputy Surveyor of Sangamon County, Illinois, measuring 6.75" x 12", Very Fine. Here, the young twenty-five year old Abraham Lincoln performs a Survey for a family who also hailed from his home state of Kentucky. Lincoln signs this Survey Document at the lower right "By A. Lincoln" in rich deep brown ink that is bold in eye appeal and measures about 2.5" long. This exceptional, rare Document reads, in full:
"Sept. 5 1834 -- Surveyed for William G. Cantril[sic, Cantrall] the following tract of land (to Wit) Beginning at the South East corner of the West half of the North East quarter of Section 20 in Township 17 North of Range 5 West at a White Oak, 20 inches in diameter bearing South 60 degrees West 33 Links Thence West 31 chains & 50 Links to a Hickory 20 in & 50 links to a Hickory 20 inches N 48 W. 25 Links Thence North 20 chains to a stake Thence East 31 chains & 50 links to a Spanish Oak 20 inches S 66 W 42 - Links- Thence South 20 chains to the beginning - J Calhoun SSC By A. Lincoln"
Lincoln identifies the "chainmen" as Williams's sons, "Joshua M. Cantrill" and "Adam M Cantrill." At the bottom, Lincoln performed a calculation in ink (dividing 10,080 by 160). Just below the survey, in another hand, is a penciled note which indicates that, "Wm G Contrall & Deborah his Wife [bequeathed the land] to Joshua M. Cantrall."
Surveys executed and recorded by Abraham Lincoln are extremely rare. Sangamon County Surveyor John Calhoun appointed Lincoln a deputy surveyor in 1833, although the earliest known survey conducted by Lincoln is dated January 14, 1834 (Per Basler), and Lincoln continued conducting surveys until November of 1836. Because Lincoln's surveys were conducted primarily for Town and County governments, rather than individual land holders, most extant examples reside in government archives and institutional collections. This present example is not recorded in Basler.
Only one other manuscript survey in Abraham Lincoln's hand has appeared in the market in the past forty years, according to American Book Prices Current. That example, a survey dated March 3, 1834, sold for an astonishing $16,500. at a Sotheby's auction in 1987, nearly three decades ago at a time when average Lincoln documents were fetching only a tenth of that amount (Sotheby's, New York, May 13, 1987, Lot 83). Another survey, credited to Lincoln, but not written in his hand, sold the next year for $8,600 (Sotheby's, New York, October 26, 1988, lot 104 ). Over a decade later, a deed, dated April 2, 1834, partly completed and signed by Lincoln (using the same type of language found in surveys to define the land in question) brought over $40,000 (Christie's, New York, December 10, 1999 lot 110).
The fact that this present Survey is completed on the face of a single page makes this Document ideal for display. Neither the March 3, 1834 survey nor the April 2, 1834 deed, are completed on a single page. This Document has some light expected folds, one of which intersects Lincoln's signature but does not detract. There is overall even light tone to the wove period paper, slightly irregular right margin, boldly penned in deep rich brown that is easily readable with eye appeal. Overall, a highly important and extremely rare historic Signed Document for Lincoln collectors!