History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


1928204

Eddie Rickenbacker

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Rickenbacker acknowledges an autograph request that he received

“just prior to leaving this country on another mission for the War Department,”

his important informational mission to the Soviet Union and the Far East

Edward Vernon Rickenbacker, 1890–1973.  American World War I fighter ace; recipient of the Medal of Honor and the Medal for Merit.  Typed Letter Signed, Eddie Rickenbacker, one page, 7¼” x 10½”, on tri-color engraved stationery of Eastern Air Lines, New York, [New York], August 25, 1943.  With accompanying signature, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker 1943, on a 3” x 5” card.

This is an excellent association letter that, together with the accompanying signed card, brings together two beautiful, and different, examples of Rickenbacker’s signature.  Rickenbacker has signed the letter as Eddie Rickenbacker, the President and General Manager of Eastern Air Lines, and has enclosed a card signed Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker and dated in his hand 1943.

Midway through World War II, Rickenbacker replies late to the request for his autograph because it arrived, he says, just before he left on an important informational mission for the War Department to the Soviet Union and the Far East.  The mission took him into the heart of the Soviet Union, where he learned about the Soviet wartime defenses and, importantly, the Soviets’ military capabilities.  He saw a map of the Soviet front line depicting the locations of all of the major Soviet military units and toured the aircraft factory at which the Soviets produced the Ilyushin II-2 Shturmovik ground attack aircraft.  He also provided the Soviets with important technical assistance on the American aircraft that they had received.  In addition, during his trip Rickenbacker traveled to Cairo, India, and China and reviewed and reported to American authorities about American operations in the regions.

The trip was not an easy one to organize.  Rickenbacker and President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not particularly care for each other, owing to Rickenbacker’s comments critical of Roosevelt’s move to have the Army Air Corps fly the mail in lieu of private companies, including one for which Rickenbacker worked.  So to organize the Soviet trip. Rickenbacker approached Soviet diplomats directly.  With the assistance of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Rickenbacker was granted permission to travel to the Soviet Union.  In an unusual move, Stimson gave him a letter stating to his hosts that he was authorized to “visit . . . any . . . areas as he may deem necessary for such purposes as he will explain to you in person.”

For his work in the war effort, Rickenbacker was awarded the Medal for Merit, the civilian equivalent to the military Legion of Merit.

In this letter, Rickenbacker writes, in full:  “I regret the delay in acknowledging your letter of April 6 which became buried in a deluge of mail I received just prior to leaving this country on another mission for the War Department from which I have only recently returned.  /  Enclosed herewith is my autograph which I am delighted to send to you, as requested.  I note with interest your reference to Stewart Sparks being an old friend of your father.  /  Again, thanking you for your comments and with the kindest regards and best wishes.”

With 26 verified aerial victories, Rickenbacker was the United States’ top ace fighter pilot in World War I.  He received more awards for valor than any other American during the war.  He set a record for his eight Distinguished Service Crosses, the Army’s second highest decoration for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force.  In 1930, one of those was converted to the Medal of Honor.  He also received France’s highest military award, the Legion of Honor, and the Croix de Guerre.

After the war, Rickenbacker had a number of business interests, including investment in an automobile company, the Rickenbacker Motor Company; ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; management positions with General Motors and the Fokker Aircraft Corporation of America; and, eventually, ownership of Eastern Air Lines.

This is a nice letter on the beautiful Eastern Air Lines engraved stationery.  It has two normal horizontal mailing folds, neither of which touches Rickenbacker’s large 3½” signature. There are staple holes at the upper left where the accompanying signed card was previously stapled to the letter.  The card has an even larger 4½” signature that is perfectly positioned for framing.  Rickenbacker has signed both the letter and card in black fountain pen.  Both are in fine condition and would be very fine but for the staple holes. 

Unframed.  Please ask us about custom framing this piece.

 

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Two Pieces:  $395.00

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 Registered Dealer # RD281