• <center><b>Skinner Auctions <br>Fine Books & Manuscripts <i>online</i><br> November 11-17
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Auctions <br>Fine Books & Manuscripts <i>online</i><br> November 11-17
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Auctions <br>Fine Books & Manuscripts <i>online</i><br> November 11-17
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Auctions <br>Fine Books & Manuscripts <i>online</i><br> November 11-17
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Dr. Seuss, pen, ink & watercolor, calendar illustration, Thomas D. Murphy Company, 1937. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Sur la Terrasse,</i> gouache & pencil, cover for <i>Vogue,</i> 1930. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Dana Gibson, <i>The Coming Game, Yale vs. Vassar,</i> pen & ink, for <i>Life</i> magazine, 1895. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>H.A. Rey, color pencil, charcoal, watercolor & gouache, for <i>Rafi et les 9 singes,</i> 1939. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ernest H. Shepard, pen & ink, for Kenneth Grahame’s <i>Bertie’s Escapade,</i> 1949. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Schulz, <i>The Biggest Star Measured So Far,</i> ink & wash, original <i>Peanuts</i> cartoon, published 1961. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Saul Steinberg, <i>12 Biographies, A to B,</i> pen & ink with collage, final illustration in his book <i>The Labyrinth,</i> 1960. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Jo Mielziner, <i>A Streetcar Named Desire,</i> watercolor, graphite & gouache, first color study for the award-winning 1947 production. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Nevermore,</i> watercolor & ink, for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1973. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>I Should Worry,</i> watercolor, gouache & graphite, cover for <i>Judge</i> magazine, 1914. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Edward Gorey, <i>Swan Lake, Hunters/Siegfried, Van Rothbart,</i> watercolor, pen & ink, costume designs, 1975. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>Sketch for Madeline,</i> gouache & ink. $6,000 to $9,000.
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper,<br>to include Travel, Sciences, <br>Sport & Illustrated Art<br>November 20, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> [Herberstein, Sigismund von, & al.] <i>Rerum Moscoviticarum…,</i> 4 plates, illustrations, folio, Andreas Wevhelius, Frankfurt, 1600. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Bowen (Emmanuel) & Owen (John). <i>Britannia Depicta…,</i> fourth edition, engraved title and 273 maps, 4to, Thomas Bowles, 1753. £700 to £900
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Geographical Game.- Jefferys (Thomas). <i>The Royal Geographical Pastime or the Tour of Europe,</i> FIRST EDITION, engraving of Europe, map c. 507 x 665 mm, Thomas Jefferys, 1768. £600 to £800
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper,<br>to include Travel, Sciences, <br>Sport & Illustrated Art<br>November 20, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Germany.- Homann (Johann Baptist). <i>Atlas Novus Terrarum Orbis Imperia... Atlas von Deutschland,</i> engraved half title, 87 maps only, folio, Erben, Nuremberg, 1753. £8,000 to £10,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Iceland [Løvenørns (Poul)]. <i>Beskrivelse over den Iislandske…,</i> 10 engraved maps and plates, vignettes, 4to, Copenhagen, F. W. Thiele, 1788. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Lewis (John Frederick). <i>Illustrations of Constantinople…,</i> FIRST EDITION, frontispiece and 26 views folio, T. McLean, D.& P. Colnaghi & John F. Lewis, [1838]. £2,000 to £3,000
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper,<br>to include Travel, Sciences, <br>Sport & Illustrated Art<br>November 20, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Lilford (Lord, Thomas Littleton Powys, 4th Baron). <i>Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Islands,</i> 7 vol., second edition, [one of 450 sets], 421 plates, large 8vo, 1891-97. £1,800 to £2,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Londres [panorama], engraving, 350 x 520mm, chez Baltazar Moncornet, Paris, c.1666-68. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Van Keulen (Joannes). <i> Niewe Pas Caarte Strekkende van Pta Cataon tot Pta Lamtaon…,</i> copper engraved map, hand coloured, 510 x 585mm, Amsterdam, [1753]. £1,200 to £1,500
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper,<br>to include Travel, Sciences, <br>Sport & Illustrated Art<br>November 20, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von). <i> Prologue dans le ciel, Traduction de Gerard de Nerval…,</i> 11 double sheets with calligraphic handwriting, 33 fine gouaches, Philippe Gonin, [Paris, c. 1932]. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Murphy (Jill, author and illustrator) ARR. <i> Peace at Last & The Large Family: All in One Piece,</i> 10 pieces of original artwork from the two books, 1980 & 1987 (12). £1,800 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Rembrandt (Harmensz. van Rijn). Christ at Emmaus: the larger plate, etching and drypoint, 212 x 161mm, sheet 225 x 170mm, 1654. £1,000 to £1,500

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2013 Issue

Ransom Note and Other Letters from First Kidnapping Sold at Freeman's Auction

96208d0f-c300-4a48-8c27-97d88daf6e3a

The ransom note seeking $20,000 for Charley Ross.

A piece of criminal history was sold at the annual Pennsylvania sale at Freeman's Auction in Philadelphia last month. It included the most important documents in one of the most sensational cases of the 19th century, albeit somewhat forgotten today. It was the case of 4-year-old Charley Ross, the first victim of a kidnapping for ransom. Whatever happened to poor Charley remains a mystery today.

 

This story begins on July 1, 1874. Little Charley and his 6-year-old brother Walter are playing in their front yard in the Germantown section of Philadelphia when two men stop by. The men offer candy and a promise to take them to a fireworks shop. July 4th is just around the corner. The boys agree to get in their “getaway car,” which in 1874, of course, is a horse-drawn buggy. They ride off for the city. Little Charley gets a bit antsy after awhile, but the men stop at a fireworks store as promised. They give Walter a quarter to go inside to buy some fireworks. This Walter does, but when he returns, the men, the buggy, and Charley are gone. Charley would never be seen again.

 

The boys' father, Christian Ross, thought they were playing at a neighbor's house. As day dragged on to evening, he became concerned and began looking. There was no trace of the boys. Christian placed an ad in the paper. Missing persons issues were handled differently then. He didn't tell his wife immediately as she was off in Atlantic City, recuperating from an illness. He didn't want to concern her.

 

Two days later, a stranger who had found Walter brought him home. That is when Christian learned the complete story. Meanwhile, a ransom note arrived at the house. It was crude, filled with misspellings and bad English, but the message was clear. The kidnappers wanted $20,000 and they threatened terrible harm to the child if Christian went to the police. The note read:

 

July 3

Mr. Ross- be not uneasy you son charly bruster he al writ we as got him and no powers on earth can deliver out of our hand. You wil hav two pay us befor you git him from us. an pay us a big cent to. if you put the cops hunting for him yu is only defeeting yu own end. we is got him fitt so no living power can gits him from us a live. if any aproch is maid to his hidin place that is the signil for his instant anihilation. if yu regard his lif puts no one to search for him you money can fech him out alive an no other existin powers don't deceve yuself and think the detectives can git him from us for that is one imposebel yu here from us in few day.”

 

Germantown was a wealthy section of town, and the Rosses lived in a large house. The kidnappers likely assumed they must have a lot of money. They didn't. They had once been fairly wealthy, but Mr. Ross lost a lot of money in the Panic of 1873 with the result being he was now heavily in debt. He was unable to come up with $20,000, an enormous sum of money in those days. So instead he disobeyed the kidnappers' demand and went to the police.

 

In time, more ransom notes arrived, money was raised, and attempts were made to pay the kidnappers with marked bills in distant places - New Jersey and New York. The kidnappers never came for the money. Rewards were offered, time went by, but nothing happened. However, in New York City, the Police Superintendent became aware that the handwriting on the notes resembled that of one William Mosher, a small-time thief with a distinctive, deformed nose. Mosher's brother-in-law was William Westervelt, a sometime policeman. Westervelt attempted to collect the reward money, but also tipped off Mosher so the latter could remain out of sight.

 

A break finally came in the case in December when two men broke into a summer home belonging to a judge on Long Island. The Judge's brother lived next door, and along with a couple of other family members, grabbed some shotguns and went next door. Gunfire broke out, and when it was finished, William Mosher lay dead on the floor. His partner, Joseph Douglas, was mortally wounded. Douglas lived long enough to say a few words. He admitted responsibility, but placed most of the blame on his partner. He also said Charley Ross was fine and would be released in a few days. Then he died. Ross was never released, nor his location revealed. Charley's brother Walter was brought to New York to view the bodies, and he identified them as the two men who had kidnapped him and his brother back in July.

 

The outcome was frustrating. Charley could not be located and the kidnappers could not be tried. However, they did put Westervelt on trial. There just wasn't much evidence to connect him to the kidnapping. Walter viewed Westervelt too and said he was not a participant. Westervelt was acquitted. He was convicted on the lesser count of conspiracy and served six years in prison. Westervelt repeatedly proclaimed his innocence.  

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> [Peter I, Tsar]. <i>Simboly i emblemata ukazom i blagopovedenii imperatora Petra Alekseevicha [Symbola et emblemata jussu atque auspiciis Petri Alexeidis].</i> Amsterdam, 1705. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Charlemagne, Adolf. Benefice d'Adieu de Madame Naptal. [St Petersburg: 16th February 1873]. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> [Military. Album.] [An album of drawings of weapons and their accessories, drawn from nature by the Second Cadets Corps.] St Petersburg, 1800. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Pushkin, Alexander. <i>Evgenii Onegin.</i> St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1825-1832. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Sumarokov, Pavel. <i>Dosugi krymskogo sud’i ili vtoroe puteshestvie v Tavridu. [The Leisure of a Crimean Judge or a Second Tour to Tauris].</i> St Petersburg: Imperial Press, 1803-5. £50,000 to £80,000
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Bohr (Niels). <i>On the Constitution of Atoms and Molecules,</i> first edition, presentation copy, offprint 1913. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Shakespeare's Falstaff.- Henry V & Sir John Fastolf. Indenture agreement appointing Fastolf as Keeper of the Bastille of St Anthony at Paris, manuscript in French, 1421. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> World.- Purchas (Samuel). <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes. In Five Books...,</i> 5 vol., first edition, 7 folding engraved maps, contemporary calf, by William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, 1625-26. £20,000 to £30,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Book of Hours.- Use of Rouen, manuscript on vellum, in Latin and French, illuminated with 14 full-page miniatures by the workshop or follower of the Maitre de l'Echevinage, Rouen, 1480s. £20,000 t0 £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Giese (Raban, ?scholar and medical doctor). Album Amicorum of drawing on his travels and acquaintances in Europe 1618-21, 134 watercolour illustrations including c. 60 professional miniatures, 1618-39. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Jones (David). 14 Autograph Letters signed, 1952-68; and a small quantity of ephemera (sm. qty). £6,000 to £8,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Constable (John). Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery, signed presentation inscription from Constable, 1833. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). The Descent from the Cross: Second Plate, etching and engraving, 1633. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Salvin (Francis Henry) and William Brodrick. <i>Falconry in the British Isles,</i> second edition, William Brodrick's copy with 3 original watercolours by him, 1873. £8,000 to £12,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> China.- Helman (Isidore Stanislas Henri). <i>Suite des seize estampes representant les conquetes de l'Empereur de la Chine,</i> 1783-88. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Pratt (Edward Roger, 1789-1863). Album of 28 watercolours and other works on paper from a journey to ancient sites and monuments in the Mediterranean, [c.1830 and later]. £3,000 to £5,000
  • <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Macbeth: A Tragedy.</i> London, 1673. FIRST SEPARATE AND FIRST QUARTO EDITION. THE CHARLTON HESTON COPY. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. <i>In Our Time.</i> Paris, 1924. FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> VERNE, JULES. <i>A Journey to the Centre of the Earth.</i> New York & London, 1872. FIRST EDITION, RARE AMERICAN ISSUE, with Scribner & Welford cancel title. $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> PLATO. <i>Timaeus</i> [AND] <i>Critias</i> [from Ficini's 1484 Opera]. A LANDMARK OF SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. $80,000 to $120,000.
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> Fust-Schöffer-Bibel from Gutenberg-Press, 1462. Est: € 1,000,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. W. Weinmann, <i>Phytanthoza-Iconographia,</i> 1735-45. Est: € 60,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>O. Kokoschka, <i>Die träumenden Knaben,</i> 1917. Est: € 10,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>Z. Lilius, <i>Orbis breviarium,</i> 1493. <br>Est: € 10,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> <i>Gazette du Bon Ton,</i> 1912-22.<br>Est: € 14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Daphnis & Chloé,</i> 1961. Est: € 100,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>C. Ptolemaeus, <i>Geographie,</i> 1513.<br>Est: € 100,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>E. L. Kirchner, <i>Umbra vitae,</i> 1924.<br>Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. Miró, <i>Midi le trèfle blanc,</i> 1968. Est: € 2,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> Clemens V., <i>Constitutiones,</i> 1471.<br>Est: € 14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>C. Gesner, <i>Tierbuch, Vogelbuch, Fischbuch,</i> 1563-81. Est: € 5,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. Itten, <i>Utopia,</i> 1921. Est: € 2,000

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