Jun 27, 2024 - Sale 2675

Sale 2675 - Lot 220

Price Realized: $ 6,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,500
(NATURAL HISTORY.) A family archive containing Audubon photographs and letters. Approximately 110 items (0.4 linear feet); condition varies but generally strong. Various places, 1814-1947

Additional Details

Embedded within this substantial family archive of New York's Hall family are 19 items relating to their famous in-laws: the Audubons. They include family photographs, two pamphlets, two signatures of the famed naturalist John J. Audubon (1785-1851), one letter sent to him, and original letters sent by his wife Lucy Bakewell Audubon (1787-1874) and their naturalist son John Woodhouse Audubon (1812-1862). One of the John Woodhouse Audubon letters discusses his Gold Rush adventures in California. The Audubon material comprises:

A small autograph scrapbook of clipped signatures. Several leaves have apparently been removed, but a signature of John J. Audubon remains, 1 x 2½ inches. The only nearly complete document is a note addressed to "Dear Audubon" by the artist Thomas Sully. The signature has been clipped out and mounted at the front of the album, while the rest of the note is mounted toward the rear. In full: "Dear Audubon, I have been so completely taken off my guard that I have not been able to see you, but my sister will hand you this, and will go to Mrs. Woody, and show her to unscrew my easel, which I wish away from there. When we meet, my dear friend, I will explain why I could not have been able to see you. God bless until we meet. Sully." Other notable clipped signatures in the volume include author Washington Irving; poet Lydia Sigourney; actress Laura Keene; Henry Ward Beecher; Horace Greeley; and philanthropist George Peabody.

Another clipped signature, "With great respects, your ob't ser't, J.J. Audubon," 1½ x 5½ inches, mounted on loose album leaf.

Lucy Audubon (widow of John J. Audubon). Autograph Letter Signed to her daughter-in-law's sister Maria Pelham Hall of Brooklyn, NY. One page, 8 x 5 inches, plus integral blank and envelope postmarked New York. "My dear Mrs. Hall, will you be so very kind as to send for me to Dr. Leabeck the inclosed note?" [New York], 23 November 1863.

Lucy Audubon (widow of John J. Audubon). Autograph Letter Signed "L.A." to her daughter-in-law's sister Maria Pelham Hall of Brooklyn, NY. 2 pages, 8 x 5 inches, plus integral blank and envelope postmarked New York. "Will you be so kind as to lend me, sell me, or give me the daguerreotype you have of Mr. Audubon taken by Mr. Anthony? I am continually written to begging for his autograph and photograph. My miniature is much damaged by the attempts of artists to take a likeness from it. . . . My years weigh too heavy upon me when walking alone from home." No place, 30 March 1865.

John Woodhouse Audubon (son of John J. Audubon). Autograph Letter Signed to brother-in-law James A. Hall and wife Maria Pelham Hall of New York. 3 pages, 9¾ x 7¾ inches, on one folding sheet, with postmarked address panel and docketing on final blank. Condolence letter in the death of their two infant children Francis and Bertha. London, 17 October 1846.

John Woodhouse Audubon (son of John J. Audubon). Autograph Letter Signed to brother-in-law James A. Hall of New York. 6 pages, 9¾ x 7¾ inches on 2 sheets, with address panel and faint postmark on final page. Writing from his ill-fated Gold Rush-era expedition with the California Company, he gives authority to his wife regarding publications: "If there is anything you don't understand, show it to Cary. She knows my style, and as she has my journal, you will have a sort of key to my theme if you cannot make out this. . . . I trust you will, in success or adversity, never see the slightest stain on the name my beloved poor old father worked forty years to give his sons. . . . See my journal if you have patience to plough the same ground over again, for I have but one old song like a bird. . . . Brother speaks in the most gratifying manner to me of the assistance you have given him. I have truly felt for him in his money matters, as well as his troubles about my poor old father." He hopes to soon send "one of those chunks of gold you talk of, the digging in favorable places are as good as ever, and tomorrow at 4 p.m. I leave to regain my company at Stockton with 15 men. . . . The mine I am going to is called Sowalannis, and I shall be down in about a month with the result of my experiment & I shall know if I am broke or not." In the chaos of gold-rush San Francisco, prices for everything are exorbitant, but "hundreds of packages lie rotting in the mud and mire and no attention is paid to them." He describes frontier Stockton at length, including a tiny floor plan of a crowded tavern and gambling hall: "I saw one poor fool lose 70 oz in not more than 20 minutes; he had only been from the mines two days." San Francisco, CA, 29 December 1849.

10 Audubon family photographs: Lucy Audubon (1787-1874, widow of the naturalist) taken at Kinney's Studio in Salem, NY; two of Caroline Hall Audubon (1811-1899), daughter-in-law of the naturalist, dated 1883 and 1897; and 8 of the naturalist's grandchildren, including a carte-de-visite of John J. "Jack" Audubon (1845-1893), five of sisters Florence Audubon (1853-1949) and Maria W. Audubon (1843-1923), and one of Delia Audubon Tyler (1849-1926).

Pamphlet: Emma Brooks, "The Legend of the Thorn-Tree," inscribed on wrapper by Florence Audubon (daughter of John W. Audubon), 1877.

Partial set of unbound plates from Maria R. Audubon's 1897 edition of "Audubon and his Journals."

Pamphlet: "The Constitution of the Ohio Audubon Society," with portrait of Miss Harriet Audubon on rear wrapper. [1916].

These are the papers of the Hall family, in-laws of the Audubons. The famed naturalist John J. Audubon (1785-1851) bought a large tract of farmland in upper Manhattan above 155th Street. Living on the property were his wife Lucy (1787-1874), and his sons Victor G. and John Woodhouse Audubon. As property values increased and the family fortunes declined, they began selling off parcels and developing the neighborhood as Audubon Park. One of the first buyers was James A. Hall (1810-1854), whose sister Caroline had married John Woodhouse Audubon in 1841. Most of the letters in this collection are addressed to or from James A. Hall and his wife Maria Pelham Hall (1822-1905), and most of the photographs depict their children and extended family. Among the non-Audubon related papers is a letter from statesman Daniel Webster, declining an invitation to Connecticut, Franklin, NH, 29 October 1847. However, the Aububons are certainly the stars of this show.