On Oct. 21, Lion Heart Autographs, an internationally recognized dealer of important autographs and manuscripts specializing in art, history, literature, music and science, will place up for auction a unique piece of Americana.
Lafayette F. Cornwell’s autograph album features over 400 entries strategically gathered between 1880 and 1930 from luminaries ranging from Buffalo Bill Cody to Rudolph Valentino all the way to Theodore Roosevelt.
Interestingly, the autographs weren’t collected in a typical, chronological order. Cornwell asked signers to inscribe their names and sentiments in different parts of his album selected at the moment so that a signature was or could be shared with a person in a related profession or endeavor.
Cornwell, a jeweler by trade, began collecting the signatures of personalities who lived or performed in Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y., in December 1880. In 1889, he moved to Colorado and in 1896, he set up a jewelry store in Pueblo. Cornwell made a name for himself and was considered one of the finest watchmakers in the West. He became the assistant chief watch inspector for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Missouri Pacific and Colorado and Southern Railroad, which offered him access to train travel across the country where he would inevitably meet many of the people represented throughout the album.
The album offers a remarkable glimpse into one man’s passion and determination to seek out the signatures and musings of prominent figures from all walks of life and who helped shape American culture.
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