History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


Charles E. Whittaker

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Rare signed photograph of Justice Whittaker

Charles Evans Whittaker, 19011973.  Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, 19571962.  Black-and-white formal portrait inscribed and signed To Mr. Terry Tobin, with good wishes / Charles E. Whittaker

This is a rare signed photograph of Justice Whittaker.  Our research has found only one signed photograph of Whittaker offered at auction since 1975.  The records of American Book Prices Current show none.  Signed photos of Whittaker are so rare that Ron Keurajianʼs 2017 book Collecting Historical Autographs says nothing about them, although it mentions other types of Whittaker autograph items. 

This is a " x 9¼" matte finish, book weight lithograph of Whittaker posed formally in his judicial robe.  The name hon. charles e. whittaker is printed beneath the image, and he has inscribed and signed in blue fountain pen in the white bottom margin.

Whittaker was the first person to serve as a judge at three levels of the federal judiciary: as a trial judge, as an appellate judge, and as a Supreme Court Justice.  He rose rapidly, too, through the federal judicial ranks.  A corporate lawyer with strong Republican connections, he secured quick successive appointments from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri on July 8, 1954; then to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on June 5, 1956; and then, just nine months later, to the Supreme Court of the United States on March 25, 1957. 

His tenure on the Supreme Court was short.  He was a centrist, and his vote was seen as a swing vote.  But he vacillated on decisions.  Both sides courted him in close cases, and finally the pressure got to him.  At age 61, after only five years and nine days on the Supreme Court, Whittaker retired due to the stress and physical exhaustion from the work.

We are also offering a cover letter with which Whittaker sent a signed photograph only a few months before his death in 1973, but the photo is not with it.  Click here to see that letter.

This is a very nice photo.  There are scattered handling marks and a light diagonal scuff that goes across Whittakerʼs forehead.  The piece is in very fine condition. 


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