A box uncovered in a Maine attic with twenty letters written by Alexander Hamilton; a handheld address to Congress by President George Washington; a long-lost Gold Medal that belonged to an American President; a note that Winston Churchill wrote to his captor when he was a young POW in South Africa; paperwork signed and filled out by Amelia Earhart when she became the first woman to fly the Atlantic; an American flag carried to the moon and back by Neil Armstrong; an unpublished letter written by Albert Einstein, discussing his theory of relativity.
Each day, people from all over the world contact Nathan Raab for help understanding what they have, what it might be worth, and how to sell it. The Raab Collection’s president, Nathan is a modern-day treasure hunter and one of the world’s most prominent dealers of historical artifacts. Most weeks, he travels the country, scours auctions, or fields phone calls and emails from people who think they may have found something of note in a grandparent’s attic.
In The Hunt for History, “Raab takes us on a wild hunt and deliciously opens up numerous hidden crevices of history” (Jay Winik, author of April 1865)—spotting a letter from British officials that secured the Rosetta Stone; discovering a piece of the first electric cable laid by Edison; restoring a fragmented letter from Andrew Jackson that led to the infamous Trail of Tears; and locating copies of missing audio that had been recorded on Air Force One as the plane brought JFK’s body back to Washington. Whether it’s the first report of Napoleon’s death or an unpublished letter penned by Albert Einstein to a curious soldier, every document and artifact Raab uncovers comes with a spellbinding story—and often offers new insights into a life we thought we knew.
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About the Author
Luke Barr is the author of Ritz & Escoffier and the New York Times bestseller Provence, 1970. The former features editor at Travel + Leisure, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two daughters.
Table of Contents
Part I Apprentice
1 Early Days: Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt 1
2 Lessons from My Father 13
3 What Is It Worth? 27
4 The Gold Medal, the Top Hat, and the Martini Shaker 39
5 The Auction Game 57
6 The Art of the Fake 71
7 The Real Ronald Reagan 81
Part II The Hunt
8 The Mystery of the Washington Survey 89
9 Taking the Reins 103
10 The Report of the Death of Napoléon 113
11 Provenance, or Where's This Stuff Been Hiding? 123
12 Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein 135
13 "I Know You Think Women Are the Pets of Society" 145
14 Thomas Jefferson's Library 155
15 The JFK Tapes 165
Part III The Meaning of History
16 The Legacy of MLK 181
17 Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears 195
18 Smuggled Out of Nazi Germany 207
19 Vein of Gold 225