I’ve collected historical autographs and manuscripts since I was a kid. I acquired the entire 100,000 square feet of archives of the Chicago Rock Island Railroad when the “line” went out of business (see May 15, 2014). And for perhaps 30 years, I published catalogs and listings of autograph material. In 2002, I became President of The Manuscript Society – http://www.manuscript.org – in Belfast, Northern Ireland (see November 13, 2011). I have seen and sold my share of wonderful manuscripts, letters and documents.
There’s one item I’ve kept. For a long time. It’s not that “special” nor is it valuable. It’s a cursive scribbling on a 4-1/2″ x 7-1/2″ blue-tinged sheet of paper from a little boy to people in the town of Lyman, Maine: “Lost – In this village a small spoted (sic) dog. With red ears and a red string around the neck. Whoever will return or give information of the same shall be suitably rewarded.” It is signed “Nathaniel Hill, Lyman.” The letter is dated “January 19th 1854.”
I look at this letter and wonder — did Nathaniel got his little dog back? I sure hope he did . . . . .