Presented is a Theodore Roosevelt signed Presidential Appointment of Thurlow W. Reed to “Assistant Surgeon in the Navy, with the rank of Lieutenant, junior-grade,” dated September 21, 1905. This Presidential appointment is a surviving testament to Roosevelt’s ambitious development and buildout of the United States Navy.
Theodore Roosevelt was responsible for creation of the modern United States Navy and its deployments to promote an ambitious foreign policy, in the Caribbean, Asia, and ultimately in Europe. During his time as President (1901-1909), Roosevelt worked with Congress and the service itself to increase the size, armament, efficiency, and overall capacity of the Navy and its vessels.
Roosevelt deployed naval assets to cultivate American power. In 1903, Roosevelt sent naval vessels to ensure that Panama would secede from Colombia, thus paving the way for the realization of the Panama Canal. Shortly thereafter, he earned a Nobel Peace Prize by successfully mediating the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, with the skillful support of key Navy assets. Roosevelt’s deployments culminated in the tour of the Great White Fleet. Sixteen battleships of the Atlantic Fleet sailed around the world between December 1907 and February 1909. Its mission was to make friendly courtesy visits to numerous countries, all while trumpeting Roosevelt’s new U.S. Naval power and reach to the world.
The presidential appointment is partially printed and partially inscribed. The document reads in full:
The Presidential appointment is presented with a handsome etched portrait of President Roosevelt by 20th century artist Jacques Reich. The etching, printed in 1919, is signed by the artist and noted as a remarque proof, numbered 1 of only 25, in pencil. Reich etched a remarque of a blue star flag at the bottom left, with 4 stars.
Jacques Reich was Hungarian-born portrait etcher, active mainly in the United States. After studying at the National Academy of Design in New York and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Reich established a studio in New York City in 1885. Working on private commissions and portrait designs for Appelton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography and Scribner’s Cylodaedia of Painters and Paintings, Reich honed his portraiture technique and skill. In the early 1890s, Reich began working on copper plates, etching a series of 14 portraits of American and English artists, writers, and poets.
Reich completed his series of etched portraits titled “Famous Americans”, which number 25 subjects, and include Hamilton, Franklin, Carnegie, Curtis, Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt, as displayed here.
Document: Partially printed, partially inscribed by the registrar. Signed “Theodore Roosevelt” at bottom right. Roosevelt signature in black ink, signed with fountain pen. Signature is bold and legible, with a little fading of the black ink to a dark brown. Countersigned “Charles J. Bonaparte,” the Secretary of the Navy, in black ink. Bonaparte’s signature has faded to light brown, but still clear. Registered by G. Earle Yancey, Registrar, in black ink, with no fading to Yancey’s signature or inscriptions in the document. Blue paper seal adhered at middle left.
Etching: Very good condition. Lightly toned across the image, consistent with age. Signed “Jacques Reich” in pencil bottom margin. Signature is large and legible. The inscription at the bottom right image margin reads, in pencil,“Artist’s Proof No. 1 of 25 from the copper.”
The Presidential appointment and etching are artfully framed together in a custom-built frame with conservation museum glass, acid-free mats, and a gold leaf descriptive plaque. Framed dimensions: 27" H x 40" W x 1 1/4" D.
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