History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


J. Edgar Hoover

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Hoover replies to a student, sending a signed photograph

and suggesting “an article of mine . . . entitled ‘The Enemy’s Masterpiece of Espionage.’”

John Edgar Hoover, 1895–1972.  Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1924–1972.  Typed Letter Signed, J. Edgar Hoover, one page, 8” x 10½”, on stationery of the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Director, January 12, 1955.  With formal 4” x 6” portrait photograph signed, J. Edgar Hoover.

This is a wonderful letter in which Hoover responds to a student’s inquiry about spies and espionage and his request for a signed photograph.  He writes, in part:  “In accordance with your request, it is indeed a pleasure to enclose a copy of my photograph which I have autographed.  I am also enclosing the only material which we have available concerning the subjects of your letter.  The thought occurs to me that you may wish to secure a copy of the April, 1946, issue of ‘The Reader’s Digest.’ This publication contains an article of mine beginning on page one entitled ‘The Enemy’s Masterpiece of Espionage.’ The other information which you desire concerning microdots is contained in this article.” 

By 1955, when Hoover wrote this letter, the Cold War was a way of life.  The United States and the Soviet Union and their respective NATO and Warsaw Pact allies were deeply engaged in espionage.  In 1946, American counterintelligence operatives discovered Soviet spy activities within the Manhattan Project, the project that developed the first nuclear bomb.  By 1950, Klaus Fuchs, a German immigrant scientist who worked in the Manhattan Project, confessed that he had spied for the Soviet Union.  His identification of other spies led to the arrest, trial, and 1953 execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of providing the Soviets with top-secret information.  In July 1955, the Soviets rejected President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Open Skies” proposal, which called for the United States and the Soviet Union to exchange maps showing the precise locations of their military installations and permit mutual aerial surveillance of those installations to assure compliance with arms control agreements.  By 1956, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev would tell Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow, “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you!”

These are beautiful items. The photo of Hoover is in extra fine condition.  The letter has a tiny spot below Hoover’s signature and a small handling mark below the printed letterhead, so we grade it very fine.  The two pieces would be very attractive framed together.  Apart from the signed photo, the enclosures that Hoover mentioned are not present.



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The two items:  $550.00














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