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About Us

History In Ink® Historical Autographs grew out of a passion for historical autographs. Its founder, lawyer Rick Schnake, has collected historical letters, documents, and signed photographs for more than 30 years.  The business is a natural extension of  Ricks hobby and his own love for history.

Ricks collection began with a special Christmas gift from his brothera letter by President Harry S. Truman, a fellow Missourian whom Rick had long admired.  

He told me to find one and he would buy it for me, Rick says.  Those were the days before the Internet made searches easy.  So I went to the public library and found some dealers listed in the New York City telephone directory.  I called one and requested a catalog.  When I got it, I was hooked.  It amazed me that things like that were actually available for people to acquire.

Since then, his personal collection has grown to include many American presidents, Supreme Court justices, British monarchs, and others.  It is both exciting and a bit humbling, Rick says, to be able to hold in your hands letters, documents, and photographs that important historical figures actually took the time to write or sign.

Rick is the foremost expert on the autograph material of Truman, whom historians rank fifth on the list of the greatest American presidents.  His personal collection includes the earliest Truman piece ever to appear on the autograph market, Trumanʼs high school graduation announcement with a hand-signed card, and items spanning Trumanʼs time as a World War I artillery captain, as presiding judge of Missouriʼs Jackson County Court, as a United States Senator, as Vice President, as President, and as an elder statesman.  Rick is currently working on the first major study of Trumanʼs signature.

Since Rick opened History In Ink in 2003, we have been privileged to bring superb items such as these to the autograph market for the first time:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last check register, with bank statements and numerous cancelled checks, including the last one he ever signed;

  • an outstanding archive of letters and documents, by American presidents and others, belonging to Llewellyn Thompson, the American ambassador to the Soviet Union during the depths of the Cold War;

  • Adolf Hitlerʼs handwritten letter to his close friend Winifred Wagner acknowledging the “melancholy days” and “great loneliness” that he still had to overcome three months after the suicide of his niece, Geli Raubal, whom he treated as a girlfriend, who had killed herself with his pistol in his Munich apartment;

  • Hitlerʼs handwritten Christmas Eve card to his half brother Alois, sending money for his “beloved little” nephew for Christmas;

  • a handwritten letter by Chief Justice John Marshall to his nephew, a lawyer, noting that “Almost all the eminent men of our country are lawyers”;

  • a handwritten note signed by Belva Lockwood, the first woman to run a full presidential campaign and to practice before the United States Supreme Court, offering advice for success;

  • a superb letter by former Confederate President Jefferson Davis responding to a vitriolic attack by Representative James G. Blaine by candidly and forcefully expressing his view of the righteousness of the Confederacy and the political motives underlying what he viewed as his personal persecution;

  • the personal Supreme Court autograph collection of Supreme Court Associate Justice Tom C. Clark, including rare internal Court memoranda;

  • Kentucky statesman John J. Crittenden’s 1863 letter decrying “the unconstitutional & odious acts of President Abraham Lincoln in the issuing of his proclamation of emancipation”;

  • two signed books from Reinhard Heydrich’s personal library, including his personal copy of Mein Kampf;

  • General John J. Pershingʼs poignant personal handwritten note thanking a friend for condolences on the deaths of Pershingʼs wife and three daughters in a house fire while he was away;

  • Ronald Reaganʼs superb three-page handwritten draft letter lambasting President Jimmy Carter and energizing conservatives to fund opposition to the SALT II arms limitation treaty with the Soviet Union; and

  • an historically superb letter by William H. Seward, as Secretary of State, sending vital certified copies of documents for use as prosecution exhibits in the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators.

We have also been privileged to offer outstanding items such as these:

  • a document signed by John Hancock, six weeks before the Declaration of Independence, sending resolutions of the Continental Congress to raise troops to send immediately to fortify Boston against an anticipated British attack;

  • an urgent letter from Napoleon I to his Secretary of War to reassign troops in view of his pending invasion of Portugal;

  • a letter from French Prime Minister Nicholas Jean de Dieu Soult, Duc de Dalmatie, thanking the man who supervised the exhumation of Napoleon’s body at St. Helena for the keys to Napoleon’s sarcophagus;

  • a handwritten letter by Malcolm X to a close friend mentioning efforts to kill him and discussing Malcolmʼs astounding metamorphosis from black militancy to racial harmony;

  • Queen Elizabeth II’s handwritten letter inviting her midwife to the christening of Prince Andrew;

  • Ulysses S. Grant’s handwritten acknowledgment of his appointment as a brigadier general at the outset of the Civil War;

  • John F. Kennedy’s White House letter sending thanks for condolences on the death of his infant son;

  • Dallas detective James R. Leavelle’s letter describing his conversations with Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, the events surrounding Ruby’s shooting of Oswald, and his view of conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination;

  • Lyndon B. Johnson’s letter, written the day Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, explaining why he did not seek reelection; and

  • Sandra Day O’Connor’s letter discussing her position as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court and how she got there.

As a collector himself, Rick appreciates the importance of personal service.  He enjoys becoming acquainted with his clients, their interests, and their budgets in order to help them to find just the right pieces to build or complement their collections or to give the perfect gift to a history buff.

History In Ink® Historical Autographs features both unframed and beautifully framed historical letters, documents, and signed photographs.  For the framed displays, Rick creates the designs and does the matting and framing himself to insure quality.  He often works with clients to custom frame pieces created especially for them. 

A dealer should be a collector first and foremost,” Rick says.  “I feel like a kid at Christmas when I get new inventory items.  I can hardly wait to open the mail.

I really would like to keep many of the pieces that I sell.  But I also like to see the enjoyment that others get from them, especially the framed pieces.  It is gratifying to be able to help them experience that.

As a collector himself, Rick appreciates the importance of personal service.  He enjoys becoming acquainted with his clients, their interests, and their budgets in order to help them to find just the right pieces to build or complement their collections. 

Rick is a member of the Board of Directors and chair of the Ethics Committee of the Professional Autograph Dealers Association. He is also a member of The Manuscript Society; the Universal Autograph Collectors Club, under which he is UACC Registered Dealer # RD281; and the German Autograph Club, the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Autographensammler e. V.  He strictly adheres to the codes of ethics of all of these organizations.  He also serves as President and a trustee of the Supreme Court of Missouri Historical Society.

Rick is also a partner in the Springfield, Missouri, law firm of Neale & Newman, L.L.P., concentrating in the areas of appellate practice and intellectual property.  He and his wife, Kelly, have one son, Christian.

 

 

We are always interested in buying quality autographs.  See Selling Your Autographs.

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