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Caroline Scott Harrison

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Scarce handwritten letter as First Lady by President Benjamin Harrison’s first wife,

one of only three First Ladies to die during their husbands’ terms of office

Caroline Livinia Scott Harrison, 1832–1892.  First Lady of the United States, 1889–1892.  Autograph letter signed, Caroline S. Harrison, two pages (front of front leaf and back of integral leaf), 3½” x 5½”, on stationery of the Executive Mansion, Washington, [D.C.], no date.

Caroline Harrison, the first wife of President Benjamin Harrison, “is extremely scarce in letters written or signed as First Lady.” Walter A. Ostromecki, Jr., The First Ladies of the United States:  An Historical Look at Each and Their Autograph Materials, 1789–1989, at 110 (1989).  She developed tuberculosis and died at the White House on October 25, 1892, some 4½ months before President Harrison’s term was over. We found only eight other of her letters written as First Lady, and ten overall, that have been sold at auction since 2009.

In this letter, Mrs. Harrison sends thanks to a Mrs. Miller for a gift of salmon.  She writes, in full:  “Your ‘Chinook’ Salmon was very acceptable & I can assure you we enjoyed it very much.  I have been prevented from writing & acknowledging it sooner but I can assure you that it was highly appreciated & we all [owe] both you and Mr. Montgomery thanks.  Very truly . . . ”

Mrs. Harrison has penned and signed this letter in black.  The letter has one horizontal mailing fold, which barely affects one line of the text and is well removed from the signature.  There are old dealer pencil notes on the front and a pencil notation “1st wife of Benj. Harrison” below the signature.  There is also a tape remnant in the blank upper right corner of the first page, where a bit of the surface of the paper has been pulled away from removal of part of the tape.  Overall the letter is in fine condition.

The letter comes with an authentication certification by psa/dna.  We put no stock in the opinions of third-party authenticators, but we pass the certification along because it accompanied the letter when we acquired it.  As does all autograph material that we sell, this letter comes with our own money-back guarantee of authenticity, without time limit, to the original purchaser.

Given the scarcity of Mrs. Harrison’s letters, collectors of First Ladies’ autographs should be careful not to let this one pass.


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