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Archive of Letters from a South Vietnamese Officer
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Archive of Letters from a South Vietnamese Officer

By (VIETNAM WAR)

Fascinating collection of approximately 94 Autograph Letters Signed (all with original envelopes) from a Republic of Vietnam Air Force officer named Lai Van Tho and several others. Varying sizes (most ca. 8" X 10," small smaller), varying lengths (most 2-3 pages, some more), most near fine and some very good, most dated between March 1963 and December 1975 (with one each from 1977, 1981 and 1983). NOT translated. This meaty collection of roughly one hundred letters awaiting translating is in exceptionally fine condition and clearly warrants further research -- whether the content is war-related, military life or other remains to be seen, but in an archive of this size likely all of the above are present and cover life in wartime Vietnam for over a decade; the 29 aerogrammes penned from two U.S. air forces bases promise to be especially interesting. Lai Van Tho's letters, most addressed to a Ngoc Dung in Cholon, South Vietnam -- whether sister, wife, mother or girlfriend is not known. These are handsomely penned in blue or green ballpoint. From July to November 1964 his letters (all on aerogrammes) hail from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, which operated a training program for select South Vietnamese pilots. From November 1964 to August 1965 they hail (also on aerogrammes) from Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, which trained South Vietnamese pilots in flying the T-28 Trojan. Likely he learned much English at this program, and occasionally these letters from America contain a smattering of words and phrases in English such as "American Food." A modest number of letters are penned by a Le Van Thieu, Nguyen Thuc and a couple other Vietnamese correspondents. Some of the envelopes from the later 1960s bear at lower left printed patriotic elements (victorious "VN" fighter plane at top with plummeting "US" planes trailing smoke beneath), map of Vietnam, flora and fauna, etc. Number of letters per year breaks down as follows: 1963 = 20, 1964 =18, 1965 = 14, 1966 = 7, 1967 = 5, 1968 = 1, 1971 = 2, 1973 = 4, 1975 = 19.

$1500.00

Signature
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Signature

By CRONJE, Pieter A. (1836-1911)

This general with the South African Republic made a reputation during the First Boer War (1880-81), but suffered a humiliating defeat in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) at the Battle of Paardeberg in 1900 in which he surrendered and was captured with his wife and more than 4,000 troops. Large, bold signature in black ink on a 3½" X 3" slip, n.p., n.y. Very good. Faint folds and barely visible staple holes at upper left. Accompanied by a bizarre, intriguing letter of transmittal from one E.E. Morse, 1p, 8" X 10¼", Brighton Beach, NY, 2 June 1905. Addressed to Frank Stiasny. Very good. Bit if wear and light folds. On letterhead proclaiming "Boer War Spectacle," Morse sends "In accordance with Captain Lewis' directions... the signature of General Cronje...." Just north Of Coney Island was a site at which famed disasters (the Galveston Flood, Fall of Pompeii) and spectacles were reenacted on a grand sale for the amusement of the public. In 1905 a reenactment of the disastrous Battle of Paardeberg, a Saint Louis World's Fair spectacle, was brought to Brighton Beach and Arthur Lewis persuaded General Cronje and other actual participants to join the reenactment (which ended with Cronje's surrender) during the summer of 1905. It was during the U.S. visit that Cronje penned this signature.

$125.00

Autograph Document Signed
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Autograph Document Signed

By WINSLOW, Job (1738-1809)

This Revolutionary War patriot was a Massachusetts Minuteman who joined up in 1776 and rose to the rank of colonel; his home in Dighton, Massachusetts still stands. ADS, 1p, 7" X 4½", Dighton, MA,3 July 1798. Addressed to Thomas Lincon. Very good. Arranges a new time to meet and go cherry picking, for "I have sent down... & find that the Cheares are Not Ripe so we have Concluded to put of Doing till Next Wensday...." Boldly penned and attractive.

$175.00

Typed Note Signed
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Typed Note Signed

By PAGET, Sir Arthur Henry Fitzroy (1851-1928)

This British officer attained the rank of general, distinguishing himself in the Ashanti War and the Second Boer War, eventually being named Commander-in-Chief of Ireland. TNS, 1p, 8" X 10", London, England, 25 July 1928. Addressed to Reverend Cornelius Greenway. Very good. Light original folds. On imprinted letterhead, Paget agrees to send this noted American autograph collector "a signed photograph to add to your collection in the Memorial Hall" (not present). Large bold signature and added "very truly yours" in thick brown ink. At lower right Greenway pencils a few lines of notes about Paget in his distinctive hand.

$75.00

Typed Note Signed
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Typed Note Signed

By KNOX, Harry (1873-1971)

This British Army officer distinguished himself with the British Expeditionary Force in World War One; he attained the rank of general and in 1930 was appointed commander of the 3rd Division, then served as Adjutent-General to the Forces (1935-37). TNS, 1p, 7½" X 9", n.p. [London, England], 22 June 1937. Addressed to Reverend Cornelius Greenway. Very good. Light original folds. On blind-embossed "War Office" letterhead, Sir Harry writes this noted American autograph collector to "Thank you for the honour you have done me in inviting me to send my photograph for your War Memorial. I will bear your request in mind...." Usual large "H. Knox" in bold purple ink.

$75.00

Autograph Letter Signed
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Autograph Letter Signed

By CAMPBELL, Sir William Pitcairn (1856-1933)

This lieutenant general with the British Army was named General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Command in 1914 and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Command in 1916. ALS, 2pp (single leaf), 5¼" X 7", London, England, 7 October 1930. Addressed to Reverend Cornelius Greenway. Fine. On black-bordered mourning stationery, Sir William tells this noted American autograph collector "I am much honoured by your letter asking me for my photograph.... When I was Commander-in-Chief of the Western Command I had the great pleasure of meeting General Pershing officially on his arrival in England and have some charming photographs of the event...." Handsomely penned in black ink. At the bottom of the closing leaf Greenway pencils a couple of lines in his distinctive script.

$95.00

Autograph Letter Signed
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Autograph Letter Signed

By JACOB, Claud W. (1863-1948)

This distinguished, highly-decorated British India Army officer took part in many engagement during World War One; he was promoted to lieutenant general in 1917, and a full general in 1920, as well as becoming Chief of the General Staff in India and also aide-de-camp to King George V; in 1926 he was promoted to field marshal. ALS, 1p, 5½" X 7¼", London, England, 26 September 1931. Addressed to "My dear Sir." Near fine. Single tiny edge chip at lower left. On imprinted stationery, Sir Claud thanks an admirer for his letter and cordially agrees to send a signed photograph (not present. Boldly penned in thick black ink, with rank "Field Marshal" added below his full signature. A sharp example. Pencilled notes at lower left of letter and on verso of noted American autograph collector Reverend Cornelius Greenway.

$95.00

Autograph Letter Signed
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Autograph Letter Signed

By WOODS, A.R. Wadham (1880-1954)

Hailed as one of the heroes of the pivotal Battle of Jutland in 1916, this Royal Navy officer fought heroically there and was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) -- and later was awarded a second DSO for his role in quelling Turkish shore batteries at Salif; by 1931 he had risen to the rank of rear admiral, then chucked it all to enter the clergy for the Church of England and serve a poor parish in London. ALS, 2pp (single leaf), 5" X 8", London, England, 16 September n.y. Addressed to "Dear Sir" (noted American autograph collector Reverend Cornelius Greenway). Near fine. On letterhead of "The Red Ensign Club," Woods cordially denies a photo request because "I was never an Admiral at sea, and I am certainly not qualified to appear alongside those you mention. I congratulate you on your Collection and your war record and hope your wounds do not trouble you too much...." Attractively penned, with brief penciled note from Greenway at the conclusion.

$75.00

Autograph Letter Signed
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Autograph Letter Signed

By NAPIER, Charles (1861-1939)

This British admiral served as aide-de-camp to King George V (1911-12) and retired as a vice admiral in 1918. ALS, 1p, 6½" X 8¼", La Croix, France, 25 October 1928. Addressed to "Sir" (noted American autograph collector Reverend Cornelius Greenway). Near fine. Writing from "Villa Torriano," the Italian-style the admiral had built the previous year near St. Tropez, Napier commends his correspondent for "your World War Memorial Building, & your effort to collect photographs of distinguished officers of the allied forces," but feels that "as I held no important command afloat during the war, my photograph would be out of place in such distinguished company...." Attractively penned in blue ink.

$75.00

Autograph Letter Signed
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Autograph Letter Signed

By RICHMOND, Herbert (1871-1946)

Characterized as "perhaps the most brilliant naval officer of his generation," this British admiral commanded the "Commonwealth," "Conqueror" and "Erin" during World War One, but was considered a boat rocker and was denied positions due to his advanced views and was forced into retirement. ALS, 2pp (single leaf), 4½" X 7", London, England, 6 July 1919. Addressed to "Dear Sir" (noted American autograph collector Reverend Cornelius Greenway). Fine. Writing on embossed letterhead shortly after his assignment as commander of "Erin," Richmond tells an admirer, "Some time ago you requested me to send you a photograph of myself.... In deference to your wishes I requested Messrs. Vandyk of London to send you a copy. I have today received the enclosed letter from Messrs. Vandyk which doubtless you will read with some anxiety as it would appear that Messrs. Vandyks letters have not reached you...." Nicely penned, with penciled note from Greenway at the conclusion.

$75.00

Typed Note Signed
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Typed Note Signed

By ROGERS, Harry L. (1867-1925)

This Army officer had a long and distinguished career that brought him to the attention of President Taft and General Pershing, who insisted he be in charge of supplying the soldiers of his American Expeditionary Force in France; in 1918 he was appointed the 25th Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army, a post he filled until 1922. TNS, 1p, 8" X 10½", Washington, DC, 27 July 1922. Addressed to Seldon P. Spencer. Very good. Faint age toning, with inoffensive paper clip impression and staple hole at upper left. On "War Department / Office of the Quartermaster General of the Army" letterhead, Rogers tells this Republican senator from Missouri (who had asked whether the Army would provide round-trip passage gratis for some Missouri politicos to attend a ceremony in France) that "relative to transportation to Europe for five or six State Representatives from Missouri to attend the dedication of a monument in France in memory of the Missouri soldiers who died overseas... I know of no means by which the commission referred to can source transportation to Europe and return, free." Nicely signed in brown ink. Written one month to the day prior to Rogers' official retirement after 26 years in the Army. Also present is an onion-skin carbon paper of Senator Spencer's letter a few days later to a disappointed constituent.

$55.00

Document Signed

By OSWALD, John (1771-1840)

This British officer distinguished himself during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, serving Brittania on many theatres of war in a long and celebrated career. DS, 1p, 16" X 12 3/4", Zante (now Zakynthos), Greece, 24 December 1810. Very good. Center fold expertly, archivally strengthened on verso; faint edgewear. "Estimate of Sums required for the Payment of the undermentioned Staff Officers Serving in the Division of the Army in the Ionian Isles from the Ordinaries of the Army for two Months from the 25th October to the 24th December 1810 Inclusive," this chart lists a half dozen officers along with columns for their "Rank," "Situations," "Periods" and "Rate per day Amount." Oswald appears at the top of this list, and at lower right he signs large and bold in brown ink, adding "Bgl. Genl / Cmdg. Troops." In 1809 Oswald was placed in command of a force sent to capture from the French this group of seven islands off Greece's west coast, and he captured four; in 1810 he captured a fifth, and as a result was made governor of the islands, a title he held until 1815 even though he returned to Britain in 1811. An interesting and unusual item.

$195.00

Autograph Letter Signed
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Autograph Letter Signed

By CARPENTER, Alfred F.B. (1881-1955)

While a captain in command of the HMS Vindictive during World War One attempting to land Royal Marines at the dock in Zeebrugge (Belgium) in an effort to block this port and bottle up the German Navy, this Royal Navy officer succeeded brilliantly and became thenceforth the "Hero of Zeebrugge," for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross; he served in World War Two as well and rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral. ALS, 2pp (single leaf), 4½" X 7", London, England, 29 December 1921. Addressed to "Dear Boy." Very good. Single light horizontal fold and three small mounting traces at left edge. Friendly note to a juvenile American admirer, reading in part: "I am interested to hear that your Daddy was amongst one of my Chicago audiences. Tell him that Houghton Mifflin (of Boston) are shortly to publish my book containing the complete story of 'The Blocking of Zeebrugge' and that he ought to get it for you as you have done so well at school!" He goes on, "...unfortunately, U.S.A. stamps won't do over here. Some day our two nations may combine even that far and I hope so, because if they do combine in everything that's worth while the world is going to be a mighty good planet to live on...." A nice example mentioning his great claim to fame not too many years afterward.

$95.00

Signature
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Signature

By CARPENTER, Alfred F.B. (1881-1955)

While a captain in command of the HMS Vindictive during World War One attempting to land Royal Marines at the dock in Zeebrugge (Belgium) in an effort to block this port and bottle up the German Navy, this Royal Navy officer succeeded brilliantly and became thenceforth the "Hero of Zeebrugge," for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross; he served in World War Two as well and rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral. Handsome and bold full signature and "Captain V.C. / Royal British Navy" in black ink on a heavy stock 5" X 3" card, n.p., n.y. [29 December 1921 pencilled on verso]. Near fine. Minor mounting traces on verso. Near top edge of card is neatly typed "Captain Carpenter of the 'Vindicative' [sic] commanded the / fleet which 'bottled up' the German Navy by blocking / its submarine base at Zeebrugge, Belgium." A nice example, especially with his rank and greatest honor added.

$55.00

Signed Booklet
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Signed Booklet

By REYNOLDS, Charles Ransom (1877-1961)

This American physician and surgeon joined the U.S. Army as a young man, serving with distinction in Cuba and in World War One, working his way up the ranks through many assignments until he reached the pinnacle of the medical/military world: Surgeon General of the United States Army, a post he filled from 1935 to 1939, modernizing and enlarging that department. Signed Booklet, an ornate 6½" X 7" trifold printed on heavy white card stock with two multi-color cords with tassles. Very good. Each of the three 5½" X 7" panels are clean and attractive, with the delicate fold line separating them expertly and archivally strengthened on verso (which does show glue stains, though none show through). Left panel reads "Reception and Dinner / In Honor of / Major General / Chas. Ransom Reynolds / The Surgeon General / United States Army" in gold within shield with draped American flags and American eagle, all in color. Central panel consists of large head-and-shoulders portrait of Reynolds in uniform (printed, not a photograph, with bit of show-through from fixative used to adhere it), lower edge which he boldly inscribes and signs in black ink "To Mr. and Mrs. / Karl H Metz with my kindest wishes / Charles R Reynolds." Right panel contains same shield and decorations as left panel, but with text reading "Sponsored by / The Medical Department Officers / Second Corps Area / at / The Waldorf Astoria / New York City / May Twenty-Seventh * * Nineteen Thirty-Five" -- a couple of days before Reynolds' June 1st induction as Surgeon General. A lovely and most unusual item likely produced in a very small quantity for attendees.

$95.00

Autograph Letter Signed
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Autograph Letter Signed

By GRUENTHER, Alfred M. (1899-1983)

This American army officer, the youngest 4-star general in U.S. history, was General Eisenhower's right-hand man during World War Two; after serving as supreme military commander of NATO (1953-56) he became president of the American Red Cross (1957-64). ALS, 1p, 6" X 7", Washington, DC, 17 February 1981. Addressed to Mr. Allen. Near fine. On imprinted personal letterhead, Gruenther tells this admirer "You have paid me a very high compliment by showing an interest in an autographed photograph of a fellow who will be 82 years old in a couple of weeks." (Signed photograph not present.) Asked what he thinks his greatest service was, he replies: "All I can say... is that I was very lucky. I was born in a small town in Nebraska (population 385). After I finished grade school I was sent to High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Why I was so fortunate I'll never know, but tell John and Robert to work hard." After signing boldly in full, he adds a postscript: "My wife died 2 years ago. We were married 56½ years." A lovely letter with nice biographical content.

$95.00

Unsigned Document
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Unsigned Document

By (HENFIELD, Gideon) (1753-ca. 1800)

In May 1793 a captured British ship was brought into the port of Philadelphia by the French privateer "Citizen Genet" and one of its seamen, who'd commanded the brigantine "Griffin" in the American Revolution, was arrested for violating the U.S.'s "Neutrality Proclamation" that sought to keep the young nation out of the conflict between France and Great Britain. It became a cause célèbre, with U.S. Attorney General Edmund Randolph personally taking part in the prosecution. It was an important test case, with Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton weighing in. It was the first time an American citizen was prosecuted for aiding the French, and Jefferson assured French Minister Genet that Henfield would be tried "by a jury of his countrymen in the presence of Judges of learning and integrity." On July 17, 1793 a grand jury indictment was obtained and in the trial soon after Henfield was found not guilty on all counts. Unsigned Document, 1p, 7 3/4" X 7", n.p. [Philadelphia, Pa], 27 July 1793. Very good. This exceptional document, legibly penned in brown ink in an unknown hand -- clearly contemporary notes made on that day, quite possibly by one of the jurors. A bit fragmentary, with challenging abbreviations. After citing date, "Circt. Ct. U.S." and "Ingl. [Jared Ingersoll] fro deft. [defendant]," a more legible central portion notes "4. o'clock Sergeant" -- likely a closing summation by one of Henfield's defense attorney Joseph Dickinson Sergeant, the other two being Ingersoll and Peter S. Duponceau, as prosecuting attorney William Rawle had made his closing argument the day before. Here it notes, in part: "Treaty with Morocco is the only treaty applicable.... Treaty with France does not extend to this point nor any other treaty -- consequently if it had been intended it wd. have been expressed in the other treaties.... Hume's hist.[ory of] Engld. foreign soldiers crowding into England.... Hutchinson's hist. of Massachusetts bay.... make a law & proclaim in -- it will be right." Interestingly, in lower left corner the unknown writer pens a few interesting detailed doodles of unidentified objects, though one is clearly a hand reaching out for a couple of cups (one pictures this tired juror near the end of a grand jury looking forward to a spot o' ale at a local tavern). On the document's verso, he pens "Jury" and below lists twelve male names -- information we find recorded nowhere in the various accounts of this trial. This fascinating if somewhat cryptic document represents contemporary, on-the-spot reporting of one of the most important and controversial trials of the day -- one that established long-time maritime principles. Newly discovered, this fascinating document has never been studied by maritime historians and certainly warrants further research.

$1750.00

Autograph Letter Signed
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Autograph Letter Signed

By THOMASON, John William, Jr. (1893-1944)

This U.S. Marine served with distinction during World War One as well as in Cuba and China, later assigned to Admiral Chester Nimitz's staff during World War Two, but he's largely remembered as an author who often illustrated his own books -- "Fix Bayonets" (short stories, 1926), "Jeb Stuart" (1930), "Salt Winds and Gobi Dust" (short stories, 1934), "Gone to Texas" (novel, 1937), "Lone Star Preacher" (novel, 1941), "--and a Few Marines" (short stories,1943) and others. ALS, 1p. 8½" X 11", Washington, DC, 5 March 1941. Addressed to Arnold F. Gates (1914-93, future notable Lincoln/Civil War scholar). Near fine. On his imprinted letterhead, Thomason thanks an adirer for birthday wishes, adding, "I am glad you like my old rebel. There will be a last story about it in the near future. Then I am supposed to start another series about a marine...." Boldly penned in blue ink in Thomason's fluid script. The "old rebel" likely refers to his 1930 biography Jeb Stuart" and "another series about a marine" to his 1943 "--and a Few Marines." Nice content and rather uncommon.

$75.00

Autograph Note Signed
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Autograph Note Signed

By RICE, William Gorham, Jr. (1892-1979)

The French government awarded this young American Red Cross ambulance driver the Croix de Guerre for his exceptional courage in World War One during the Second Battle of Chemin des Dames on 29 July 1917; he went on to serve as assistant general counsel to the National Labor Relations Board and as law professor at the University of Wisconsin. ANS, buff heavy stock 5½" X 3¼" preprinted "penny postcard, Washington, DC, 25 August 1934. Addressed to Arnold F. Gates (1914-93, noted Lincoln/Civil War scholar). Near fine. What question prompted the then-labor union figure to pen "Yes, if you won't call me professor" and sign boldly in full is unknown, but intriguing. He also notes "National Labor Relations Board / 25 August 1934" at upper right.

$50.00

Photograph Signed
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Photograph Signed

By CLARK, Mark W. (1896-1984)

The allied invasion of Italy in World War Two was led by this American Army general, who also on July 27, 1953 signed the Korean armistice as commander of the U.N. forces in Korea; later he served as president of The Citadel, the renowned South Carolina military college. PS, 4" X 5", Vienna, Austria, 11 August 1946. Very good. Faintest of edgewear. Glossy black-and-white informal portrait of Clark in bright sun standing in uniform, hands clasped behind back, on a dirt path with trees alongside. Across the lighter lower portion, he boldly signs "Mark W. Clark / Vienna Aug. 11, 1946" in black ink. At the time of this signing Clark was serving as Commander in Chief of US Forces of Occupation in Austria. A choice post-war piece.

$195.00

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