In his "Collecting Autographs and Manuscripts" (1961, revised 1970 adding Johnson & Nixon)), autograph pioneer Charles Hamilton writes "A few of the First Ladies rank among the most elusive of American autographs. Martha Jefferson, for instance ...Even harder to find, if such is possible, are autographs of Eliza Monroe and Hannah Van Buren ... Rare, also, are the autographs of Caroline Fillmore, Ida McKinley, Ellen Arthur, Rachel Jackson, and Anna Harrison..."
The wives of Jefferson, Van Buren, Arthur, and Jackson each died before their husbands became President. As did Alice Lee Roosevelt who died 17 years before TR became President. Fillmore married his second wife Caroline 5 years after his presidential term ended. In that same chapter, Hamilton reproduces signatures of 36 "First Ladies" including Jefferson, Jackson, Caroline Fillmore, Arthur, and Mary Lord Harrison (married 3 years after husband's presidency).
Should we also add the past wives of Presidents Ronald Reagan (Jane Wyman), and Donald Trump (Melania Trump, Marla Maples Trump) to a collection of First Ladies?
My source, Charles Hamilton, is a pioneer in the field of autograph collecting. Before him, the general public considered collecting autographs as something people do when they meet baseball players and movie stars. I'd like to hear from collectors of First Ladies' autographs. Not someone who collects autographs of former/future wives of Presidents or mothers of the President's children. "Would you want the autograph of Rachel Jackson or Ellen Arthur in your collection?"
I'd like to hear from collectors of First Ladies' autographs.
You just heard from one such individual.
Not someone who collects a
aren't the First Lady by any rational definition, and, thus, their autographs in a First Lady collection would turn that collection into a First Lady + collection.
It'd be one thing if you asked if there's historical value to the signatures of a President's first wife, but, instead, you're asking a question that you could've answered yourself: "If you strictly collect the autographs of First Ladies, do you want a signature in your collection that's not from a First Lady? (Don't answer if you collect other categories that those signatures could fall into, such as Presidents' wives.)"
Merriam-Webster defines "First Lady" as "the wife or hostess of the chief executive of a country or jurisdiction." That would include bachelor Presidents James Buchanan's niece and Grover Cleveland's sister and the many women who acted as Hostess of the White House for widowed Presidents.
Lane's place in a First Lady collection would be due to her performing the duties of the White House hostess, a point that I addressed twice.
In my first message:
"First Lady" is more directly related to the "White House hostess" than to the wife/wives that a President had before or after he took office, and whether or not the "hostess" even belongs in a "First Lady" collection is arguable.
And my second:
As I said, the White House hostess is debatable as an addition to a First Lady collection...
That decision would, as I alluded to, come down to what definition of "First Lady" one was using. The broadest definition, which would encompass the greatest number of people without straying from the spirit of the term, would be "The individual married to the President during his time in office and/or performing the hostess duties at the White House". The narrower definitions would be an offshoot of one of those two branches.
By the broadest definition, Lane qualifies. Same with if you look at the First Lady as an evolution of the hostess role, rather than simply the wife role, as many do.
However, one can't fault a collector for sticking to the simplest definition, which ignores everything except the marital status of the couple during the Presidency. Even today, people debate the definition of the term & what holding it means.
To each his own.