History In Ink® grew out of a passion for historical autographs. Its founder, Rick Schnake, has been a collector for more than 35 years. He began the business in 2003 as a natural extension of his hobby and his own love for history.
We have been privileged to bring superb items such as these to the autograph market for the first time:
- Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last check register, with bank statements and numerous cancelled checks, including the last one he ever signed;
- an outstanding archive of letters and documents, by American presidents and others, belonging to Llewellyn Thompson, the American ambassador to the Soviet Union during the depths of the Cold War;
- an historically superb letter by William H. Seward, as Secretary of State, sending vital certified copies of documents for use as prosecution exhibits in the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators;
- a chilling letter by Lyndon B. Johnson, as Vice President, predicting that Dallas would be on President John F. Kennedy’s itinerary during his fatal trip to Texas in November 1963;
- Adolf Hitlerʼs handwritten letter to his close friend Winifred Wagner acknowledging the “melancholy days” and “great loneliness” that he still had to overcome three months after the suicide of his niece, Geli Raubal, whom he treated as a girlfriend, who had killed herself with his pistol in his Munich apartment;
- a handwritten letter by Chief Justice John Marshall to his nephew, a lawyer, noting that “Almost all the eminent men of our country are lawyers”;
- a handwritten note signed by Belva Lockwood, the first woman to run a full presidential campaign and to practice before the United States Supreme Court, offering advice for success;
- a superb letter by former Confederate President Jefferson Davis responding to a vitriolic attack by Representative James G. Blaine by candidly and forcefully expressing his view of the righteousness of the Confederacy and the political motives underlying what he viewed as his personal persecution;
- the personal Supreme Court autograph collection of Supreme Court Associate Justice Tom C. Clark, including rare internal Court memoranda;
- Kentucky statesman John J. Crittenden’s 1863 letter decrying “the unconstitutional & odious acts” of President Abraham Lincoln “in the issuing of his proclamation of emancipation”;
- General John J. Pershingʼs poignant personal handwritten note thanking a friend for condolences on the deaths of Pershingʼs wife and three daughters in a house fire while he was away;
- Ronald Reagan’s superb three-page handwritten draft letter lambasting President Jimmy Carter and energizing conservatives to fund opposition to the SALT II arms limitation treaty with the Soviet Union; and
- two signed books from Reinhard Heydrich’s personal library, including his personal copy of Mein Kampf.
We have also been privileged to offer outstanding items such as these:
- a document signed by John Hancock, six weeks before the Declaration of Independence, sending resolutions of the Continental Congress to raise troops to send immediately to fortify Boston against an anticipated British attack;
- an urgent letter from Napoleon I to his Secretary of War to reassign troops in view of his pending invasion of Portugal;
- a letter from French Prime Minister Nicholas Jean de Dieu Soult, Duc de Dalmatie, thanking the man who supervised the exhumation of Napoleon’s body at St. Helena for the keys to Napoleon’s sarcophagus;
- Abraham Lincoln's letter to Vice President-Elect Hannibal Hamlin sending formal and personal letters offering the highest cabinet post, that of Secretary of State, to William H. Seward, Lincoln's chief rival for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination;
- a handwritten letter by Malcolm X to a close friend mentioning efforts to kill him and discussing Malcolmʼs astounding metamorphosis from black militancy to racial harmony;
- Queen Elizabeth II’s handwritten letter inviting her midwife to the christening of Prince Andrew;
- Ulysses S. Grant’s handwritten acknowledgment of his appointment as a brigadier general at the outset of the Civil War;
- John F. Kennedy’s White House letter sending thanks for condolences on the death of his infant son;
- Dallas detective James R. Leavelle’s letter describing his conversations with Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, the events surrounding Ruby’s shooting of Oswald, and his view of conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination;
- Lyndon B. Johnson’s letter, written the day Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, explaining why he did not seek reelection; and
- Sandra Day O’Connor’s letter discussing her position as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court and how she got there.
Rick is widely regarded as the leading expert on the autograph material of President Harry S. Truman, whose letters and other autograph items form the centerpiece of his personal collection.
As a collector himself, Rick appreciates the importance of personal service. He enjoys becoming acquainted with his clients, their interests, and their budgets in order to help them to find just the right pieces to build or complement their collections or to give the perfect gift to a history buff.
History In Ink offers both unframed and beautifully framed historical letters, documents, and signed photographs in many fields and in a broad range of values. We concentrate on the autographs of United States presidents and first ladies, Supreme Court justices, and World War II military figures. We also offer items from many other notable persons throughout American and world history.
On our website, though, there is much more yet: Our listings not only have detailed color scans of the autographs, but they include biographical information on the persons involved and often explain in depth the historical context of the items offered. To help collectors find exemplars, our Sold Archive compiles color scans and descriptions of many of the items that we have sold. We also provide information on caring for historical autographs and links to many interesting and helpful web sites.
We take care to make our framed displays some of the best—wonderful conversation pieces for the home or office. Most of our unframed autographs can be framed, and we work with our clients to create custom displays that complement both the autograph and room decor. We ship both framed and unframed items virtually anywhere in the world.
Based on our active want list, we notify clients when we have items that may interest them. Since our online listings never include all of our material, we encourage inquiries about items that do not appear on our website. If we do not have something in stock, we will help find it.
We always interested in buying quality autographs and will consider single or multiple items or entire collections. We also offer attractive consignment options should you prefer not to sell your items outright.
Rick, a lawyer, is President of PADA, a member of The Manuscript Society and the German Autograph Society AdA, and a UACC Registered Dealer. He always likes talking about autographs, so call or email with questions, comments, and suggestions.
Most of all, enjoy our website, breathe in the history, and come back often.