Abraham Lincoln's great-grandson and Robert Todd Lincoln's grandson, second child of Robert's daughter Jessie Lincoln Beckwith (1875-1948); wealthy and reclusive, R.T.L. Beckwith shunned publicity and the spotlight and died without issue -- making him the last living direct Lincoln descendant at the time of his death. Item #40504
Signed envelope, 8 3/4" X 4", Manchester, VT, n.d. [faint postal cancellation 1972 October 2]. Near fine. At upper left corner of this heavy stock orange/brownish envelope, Beckwith boldly prints "R.T.L. Beckwith / Hildene / Manchester / Vt." in black fineline, and in the recipient address area at center writes in cursive "Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Newman / The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop / Chicago / Ill." Alongside this, in another hand (presumably a postal employee), "18 E. Chestnut" has been lightly pencilled. Ralph G. Newman (1912-2000) was the founder of the noted Abraham Lincoln Book Shop and in the 1970s became one of the few people in the Lincoln world that Beckwith took a shine to and to whom he would sell artifacts handed down in the family from Abraham, Mary and Robert Lincoln. Beckwith's autograph is quite scarce in any form. Beckwith lived in Virginia for much of his life, so why he would be writing Newman from the estate of his grandfather in Vermont is an intriguing mystery. Inside this envelope are two original 4½" X 3½" color photographs --- almost certainly unpublished. These informal snapshots (both blank on verso) are both pristine and unfaded. The first depicts Beckwith in think sweater and knit cap splitting logs (what else?) in a wooded backyard, looking up at the camera. The second was apparently taken in the attic of Beckwith's home and depicts two short barrister bookcases filled with hardbound books, an oil painting of what appears to be Robert E. Lee in later years leaning against one wall, an old trunk labeled "R.T.L.B" in the foreground amidst typical attic clutter (vase, lightbulb boxes, etc.) Also present is a pristine blank sheet of Beckwith's imprinted 8½" X 11" letterhead stationery from his home "Woodstock on the Piankatank" in Hartfield, Virginia. A delightfully unusual and extremely scarce grouping.