Published: October 4, 2022
NEW YORK CITY — The highlight of Swann Auction Galleries’ September 29 Americana auction was a large archive of family papers of Gideon Welles, who served as secretary of the Navy through the Civil War. The extensive archive of Welles’ personal and family papers comprise more than 1,000 items in six boxes, including his letters to his son regarding the Lincoln assassination and Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, four of his prewar diaries and more. Estimated $60/90,000, the historical trove realized $281,000, including buyer’s premium. Welles was born and raised in Glastonbury, Conn., where he spent most of his life. He was an early graduate of what became Norwich University in Vermont, and returned to Connecticut to practice law, edit a newspaper and serve in the state legislature. His highest profile position before the Civil War was as chief of the bureau of provisions and clothing for the Navy during the period of the Mexican-American War. He opposed slavery and became an early member of the new Republican Party in 1854. More on this substantial archive and additional highlights from the 394-lot sale will be discussed in a follow-up review.
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