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Civil War Era Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes Signed Note with Original Mailing Envelope—Full JSA

Lot Number 1566

Quantity: Bid Starts: 05/09/2016 12:00:00 
Bid Open: 100.00  Bid Ends: 05/19/2016 22:00:00 
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Detailed description on our website.

Oh the carnage, tragedies and triumphs witnessed by Dr. Joseph K. Barnes (d.1883). A forty-two year veteran of military service, Barnes was a surgeon who participated in the Seminole Wars, the War with Mexico and the Civil War, rising to the rank of Brigadier General. During the Civil War he was appointed Surgeon General of the U.S. Army with the rank of Brevet Major General. He also had the regrettable honor of caring for two assassinated presidents, attending the death bed of Abraham Lincoln and overseeing his autopsy and the autopsy of his assassin John Wilkes Booth in 1865; and ministering to James A. Garfield during his protracted and unsuccessful four-month struggle to survive bullet wounds in 1881.


Offered is a Barnes signed note with original mailing envelope. Measuring 8-3/8 x 6”, this antique document is obviously the bottom half of a letter that was addressed to Henry S. Hoover, a resident of Barnes’ hometown Philadelphia. Written on heavy stock with a partial watermark visible, the note reads “very respectfully yours J.K. Barnes Surg. Genl. U.S.A.- Washington D.C”. Despite minor ink breaks on the first letters, Barnes signature remains bold, meriting a (“7-8”) strength designation. The sturdy sheet of paper is in excellent condition with compacting folds that could only be from the original period, as they are formed to fit the 4-1/2 x 2-5/8” accompanying envelope. Clues to the nature and date of origin of this correspondence are found on the accompanying envelope. Affixed at top right is a green George Washington three cents stamp issued during the 1870s, most likely by the Continental Bank Note Company 1873-1878, but also possibly by the National Bank Note Company 1870-1871. Both used the same design, but the later date examples bear “secret marks” in order to differentiate. Detecting the “secret marks” absolutely has proved a task beyond the skill of our diligent but disappointed staff. The upper flap on the envelope’s reverse is embossed with an ornate letter “H”, suggesting the addressee Hoover sent the envelope to Barnes with intention of facilitating a reply, which might have been an event invitation or a an autograph request. Full photo LOA from JSA.






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