History In Ink®  Historical Autographs




Gutzon Borglum

Fantastic signed inscription by Borglum, the creator of the Mount Rushmore sculpture,

in The Undefeated, the story of Borglumʼs work on the Stone Mountain memorial

John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, 1867–1941.  American artist; creator and sculptor of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  Bold Autograph Note Signed, Gutzon Borglum, on the first half title page of The Undefeated, February 23, 1927.  With accompanying Autograph Note Signed, John M. Baer, by John Miller Baer, 1886–1970.

Borglum, the son of Danish-American immigrants, created the grand sculpture of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, which is now the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  He developed the techniques for sculpting on a giant scale in his effort to carve the memorial to the Confederacy at Stone Mountain, Georgia.  Borglum terminated the Stone Mountain project in 1925 over disagreements with officials of the Ku Klux Klan, which provided the major financial backing for it.  This book, The Undefeated, relates the story of Borglumʼs aborted effort at Stone Mountain.

This is an excellent association piece.  Borglum has written this inscription to former Congressman John Miller Baer of North Dakota, one of the early supporters of the Mount Rushmore memorial and himself a cartoonist for the Fargo Courier-News.  He writes, in full:  “My dear John Baer and brother artist – read this darn you!! and I hope you will find the world as wonderful and as difficult—as I have.  heaven and Hell are always next door to each other–.  A big man is at home in either and not injured by either the joys or griefs of life.   Pray to God you may take [?] each as they come and their equally great benefits.  Sincerely yours . . . ”

Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission on March 3, 1925.  Baer, by then no longer a member of Congress, writes on the front pastedown of this book of his own role in helping to secure the appropriation for the project.  He writes:  “I raised the first $50000 for the statues at Rushmore.  Borglum called me from Texas at 2:30 P.M. and I got Senator Norbeck and Congressman Royal Johnson to get the appreation [sic].

Borglumʼs handwriting and signature are bold and beautiful.  He has written and signed in jet black fountain pen on the first half title page.  The page was loose from the binding and had been repaired with tape, leaving a stain along the left edge of the page that is well removed from Borglumʼs handwriting and signature, which are in fine condition.  Baerʼs note is written in black on the front pastedown, which is partly toned from a newspaper clipping attached to the facing front free endpaper and has an old book dealerʼs pencil note at the upper right corner.  It, too, is in fine condition.  The book itself is in fair condition, with considerable wear on the spine and front board.  The half title page on which Borglum has written and the preceding page, a photograph of the work at Stone Mountain, have been archivally reattached to the book, and the binding has been repaired.

Overall, this is a very desirable autograph from Borglum, the creator of one of Americaʼs most iconic monuments.



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