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Lot 21: Financier Andrew Carnegie Letter Encouraging a Young Person to Serve Others
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Encouraging a Young Person to Serve Others: “You hav only to keep on to be a great man like your father, one who is known and appreciated becaus he labors for the good of others and not for his own personal good, except so far as is necessary for him to ern enuf to take care of the home and educate you and the other children, which is his first duty.” ********** CARNEGIE, ANDREW. (1835-1919). Scottish-born, American industrialist and philanthropist. TLS. (“Andrew Carnegie”). 1p. 4to. New York, November 7, 1911. On his personal, 2 East 91st St. stationery. To Eric H. Marks, whose father, Marcus M. Marks (1858-1934), was a businessman and served from 1914-1917 as the first Jewish borough president of Manhattan. He was also the uncle of songwriter, Johnny Marks (“Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) and the main force behind the “daylight-saving” movement. Carnegie writes using “Simplified Spelling,” a movement he supported for years to help simplify the English language, thinking it would be useful to have English become a more easily written international language and further world peace. ********** “My dear young Frend,- I hav red your “Life” of my humble self, and I congratulate you upon your literary success. You hav only to keep on to be a great man like your father, one who is known and appreciated becaus he labors for the good of others and not for his own personal good, except so far as is necessary for him to ern enuf to take care of the home and educate you and the other children, which is his first duty. I send you a copy of an article publisht in “The Youth’s Companion,” which shows you how I servd my apprenticeship…” ********** A Scottish immigrant and self-made millionaire, Carnegie was deeply committed to philanthropy. His 1889 article Wealth set forth his philosophy that one who had amassed a great fortune had an obligation to use it for “the improvement of mankind,” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Carnegie devoted himself and his fortune to this altruistic pursuit beginning in 1901 when he sold his company, Carnegie Steel, to J.P. Morgan for $250,000,000. In 1904, by an act of Congress, the Carnegie Institution of Washington was incorporated and among Carnegie’s other notable charities were the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, endowed in 1910, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the largest of all his foundations, established in 1911 to promote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among the people of the United States” (ibid.). Carnegie’s philanthropic legacy is perhaps most evident in the 2,811 libraries which his fortune helped build around the world. The article referenced in our letter, “How I Served my Apprenticeship as a Businessman,” was published in the April 25, 1896 issue of The Youth’s Companion. ********** Our letter was written while Marks was a student at New York City’s Ethical Culture School from which he graduated in 1913. ********** The Simplified Spelling Board was an organization funded by Andrew Carnegie from 1906-1920, who gradually became disillusioned with its unsuccessful efforts to reform common English spelling. Towards the end of the board’s existence, Carnegie wrote to the its president, publisher Henry Holt, “I think I hav been patient long enuf... I hav much better use for twenty thousand dollars a year.” ********** Folded with minor wear and in very good condition. We have never seen another letter written by Carnegie employing this radical orthography.