ASTOR, WILLIAM WALDORF

Bid now! E-Mail a Friend Currency Converter

This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
ASTOR, WILLIAM WALDORF - “It does not fall to the lot of every man to read his own obituary notices & I observe with great interest that the comments are written in a far kindlier spirit than the papers have shown toward me for many a day”
Click to close [X]

ASTOR, WILLIAM WALDORF - “It does not fall to the lot of every man to read his own obituary notices & I observe with great interest that the comments are written in a far kindlier spirit than the papers have shown toward me for many a day”

Click image to enlarge

ASTOR, WILLIAM WALDORF. (1848-1919). American politician, newspaper publisher and businessman who constructed the Waldorf Hotel which merged with his cousin John Jacob Astor IV’s adjacent hotel to become the Waldorf-Astoria. ALS. (“W.W. Astor”). 3½pp. 8vo. London, July 24, 1892. Written on his Lansdowne House stationery to JOHN HAY (1838-1905), private secretary to Abraham Lincoln, diplomat and secretary of state under William McKinley from 1898-1905.

 

I did not anticipate, in entering upon an attack of dry pleurisy three weeks ago, that I should raise such a breeze about myself.

 

It does not fall to the lot of every man to read his own obituary notices & I observe with great interest that the comments are written in a far kindlier spirit than the papers have shown toward me for many a day.

 

It gave me great pleasure, this morning, to receive your kind letter & am greatly touched by your remembrance of me. This is the first letter I have attempted to write for though the doctors let me drive out every day & even walk for ten minutes in the garden they insist upon idleness & vacuity of thought. Tomorrow, however, I am to go to my office for a few hours.

 

In a week or so we shall all be off to Perthshire where I have taken a moor for the Summer. I have never visited Scotland & look forward with much interest to its scenery. We shall take a coach & do a lot of driving, from city to city, which to me is an ideal manner of travelling. Last summer we drove over eleven hundred miles through England & I remember it as one of the most beautiful & instructive & refreshing journeys I have ever made.

 

Mrs. Astor joins with me in kindest messages of remembrance to Mrs. Hay & with my best regards to you, believe me…”

 

The son of wealthy financier and philanthropist John Jacob Astor II, “Willy” Astor spent his youth in Italy and Germany before returning to the United States to study law. Drawn to the idea of making his own reputation in politics, rather than entering into the family business, Astor was elected to the New York State legislature but was twice defeated in his attempts to enter national politics. Negative coverage in the press resulted in his abandonment of any political aspirations, although he did serve as minister to Italy for several years beginning in 1885.

 

Upon the death of his father in 1890, William became the richest man in America and began construction of the Waldorf Hotel, on the site of his Fifth Avenue mansion. The hotel was built in large part to spite his aunt Caroline “Lina” Schermerhorn Astor, who resided next door and was the gatekeeper to New York aristocracy. Astor had been feuding with her since 1887 over her use of the title “Mrs. Astor” as he felt that his own wife, Mary “Mamie” Dahlgren Paul(1858-1894) should be entitled to the designation as he was head of the Astor family. William’s attempts to literally overshadow his aunt’s house, the epicenter of New York society, with his hotel, led to negative press coverage and his aunt and cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, constructing their own hotel, The Astoria, on the site of their home. It eventually merged with its neighbor to become the famous Waldorf-Astoria, which was torn down in 1928 to make way for the Empire State building.

 

Unable to win the feud with his aunt, “in 1890, an exasperated Astor fled to the relative safety of England. Then, on July 12, 1892, multiple American newspapers reported that the 45-year-old Mr. Astor had succumbed to pneumonia and died. And yet in its own report, the New York Times’ article hedged that ‘As late as midnight to-night reporters calling at [London’s] Lansdowne House [where the Astors resided from 1890-1893] were told by the servants that Mr. Astor was not dead.’ Meanwhile, unconvinced, the New York Herald waited for confirmation of his demise before printing the news. That didn’t happen. Instead, word that Mr. Astor had not actually passed soon spread, revealing the fallacy of the previous day’s report,” (“William Waldorf Astor’s Premature ‘Brush’ With Death,” From the Stacks, The New-York Historical Societyblog, O’Reilly). While it is unclear who started the rumor, “most speculate that Astor’s insecurities about his media portrayal led him to feed the erroneous report, all in an effort to see what would be written about him,” (ibid.). Our letter confirms that he eagerly read the press coverage of his supposed death.

 

Astor remained in England for the remainder of his life, purchasing the Pall Mall Gazette, The Observer, a Buckinghamshire estate, and a castle in Kent, formerly the home of Anne Boleyn. In honor of his numerous charitable endeavors, he was granted a peerage in 1916. 

 

John Hay began his career as a young attorney from Springfield, Illinois helping Abraham Lincoln campaign for office, and continuing as one of his private secretaries and biographers. Hay was with Lincoln when he died and, with the president’s other secretary, John G. Nicolay, they organized Lincoln’s papers and co-wrote Abraham Lincoln: A History and the Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. Hay subsequently enjoyed a diplomatic career before becoming Horace Greeley’s assistant editor at the New-York Tribune. Following his 1874 marriage to Clara Stone, daughter of wealthy Cleveland industrialist Amasa Stone, Hay relocated to Cleveland’s “Millionaire’s Row” where he helped manage Stone’s money and focused on writing. After a lengthy hiatus from politics, during which time he frequently traveled through Europe, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Britain’s Court of St. James from 1897 to 1898. In 1898, his friend, President McKinley, appointed him secretary of state, a post he held under President Roosevelt until his death in 1905.

 

Folded once and uniformly age toned. In fine condition and rare.

 

Item #19023


This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
Bid now! E-Mail a Friend Currency Converter

Lion Heart Autographs, Inc. unconditionally guarantees to the original purchaser the authenticity of every autograph it sells without time limit.

We accept all major credit cards as well as PayPal, wire transfers and U.S. checks and money orders. Free domestic shipping via FedEx with credit card payment. For more information, click here.

Just this once...
Share your name and email address to receive:

Name
E-Mail
Tell us about your collecting interests, including specific names:

No, thanks

We respect your privacy. Your email address will never be shared with a third party.