Lot 26 of 196:
California Gold Rush Letter, Alonzo Delano  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$1,800
$3,000 - $4,000

1849 Humorist Alonzo Delano plans his California trek






Delano, A.[lonzo]. Autograph Letter Signed. Ottawa, Illinois. Jan. 7, “1848” [1849]. 1 pg.+ stampless address leaf. To Josiah Reed, Chicago, asking for a 5-year term life insurance policy of $3,000 as he makes plans to leave for California: 

“…I shall be Forty three years of age next July and in sound health have no hereditary disease, am a strictly tee total temperance man and have been for years. In short, I know of no disability. My business has been that of Merchandizing but at present I am keeping a Hotel. I am preparing to go to California by Land and propose to be absent from two to four years and in the event of my death should like to leave my family provided for. For...reference I would refer you to Mess. Richmond & Co. or Mess. Brown & Tuttle of Chicago. Can you give a policy and on what terms…”

The future famed literary wit of the Gold Rush, reaching the “diggings” eight months later, would then begin writing the humorous newspaper articles that brought him national acclaim. Curiously, several statements in this letter to an agent of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company differ from other standard biographic information. That Delano managed a hotel before his overland departure from Missouri in April - given credibility by his reference to Chicago hoteliers Brown & Tuttle - seems to be new information. Most significantly, while he assured the agent that his health was “sound”, it’s generally believed that, suffering from consumption, he moved west explicitly for medical reasons. Letters by this most notable of Forty-Niners, especially with such momentous content, are very rare. We can find no record of a Delano letter appearing at auction in the past 30 years.

Lot Amendments

Presence of a hole approx 1" to mid right of page, missing piece is present but not attached; otherwise very good.

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