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Lot 67: J. Edgar Hoover Transmits "A copy of the wanted notice published by this Department in connection with its investigation to locate John Dillinger"
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: J. Edgar Hoover Transmits, “herewith a copy of the wanted notice published by this Department in connection with its investigation to locate John Dillinger.” ********** HOOVER, J. EDGAR. (1895-1972). American lawyer, criminologist and director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. TLS. (“J.E. Hoover”). ½p. 4to. Washington, D.C., August 16, 1934. Written on his Division of Investigation letterhead to ARNOLD F. GATES (1914-1993) notable Civil War scholar and autograph collector. ********** “By reference from the Department of Justice receipt is acknowledged of your undated postal card received in the Division on August 11, 1934, and in accordance with your request there is transmitted herewith a copy of the wanted notice published by this Department in connection with its investigation to locate John Dillinger.” ********** Born in Washington, D.C., Hoover was admitted to the District of Columbia bar in 1917, and worked for the Department of Justice before becoming director of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) in 1924. He remained in the post as director of the FBI into the Nixon presidency, dramatically shaping the nature of the Bureau. Upon taking the reins of the BOI, Hoover increased the organization’s size, fired staff employed through cronyism, enacted more rigorous hiring standards and training, applied scientific methods including forensics, and used the media to promote the agency to the public. The evolving law enforcement agency’s profile was raised during its investigation of the shocking Lindbergh baby kidnapping in 1932. ********** Our letter references the manhunt for notorious bank robber John Dillinger (1903-1934), who escaped from jail twice, first in October 1933 and, again, in March 1934, using a fake pistol he had carved himself. Dillinger’s escape and the crime spree across state lines prompted Hoover to successfully lobby the federal government to broaden the Bureau’s jurisdiction. On July 22, 1934, approximately three weeks before signing our letter, field agent, Melvin Purvis, ambushed and killed Dillinger outside a Chicago theater. ********** Gates, a well-respected amateur historian of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, devoted 50 years to researching those subjects, reviewing books for the Lincoln Herald and contributing to such works as the anthology Lincoln for the Ages. He was an avid letter writer and “friend and unofficial agent of many a noted author,” (“Autographica Curiosa: How Not to Impress Emily Post,” Autograph Magazine, Butts). ********** Folded and in very good condition. Early letters by Hoover with any gangster content are extremely rare; in fact we could not find any examples of Hoover letters mentioning Dillinger in more than 40 years of auction records.