William Henry Knieves
An 1896 oil-on-canvas portrait of Cornelius Vanderbilt II (detail) by Daniel Huntington (1816-1906) realized $33,460 at a May 2007 auction.

Looking Back … 1896

Republican William McKinley defeats William Jennings Bryan to become the 25th president of the United States. Queen Victoria surpasses her grandfather King George III to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history (a distinction now held by Queen Elizabeth II). The last emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, is formally crowned. The 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens are the first international Olympic Games in modern history. Henry Ford creates the quadricycle, his first car. Fannie Farmer publishes the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, later retitled The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème premieres in Turin, Italy. And English author H.G. Wells releases The Island of Doctor Moreau. 


The Morgan dollar, named for Mint engraver George T. Morgan, was produced from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921. An 1896 Morgan dollar minted in San Francisco and graded MS69 PCGS sold for $402,500 at a November 2005 Heritage auction.


Frank Reaugh (1860-1945), an Illinois native who later moved to Texas, is known for paintings that portrayed the Great Plains and the American Southwest. His 1896 oil on canvas Breezy Morning sold for $179,250 at a May 2007 auction.


Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) is among the greatest English poets of the Middle Ages. An 1896 Kelmscott Press edition of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Now Newly Imprinted, once owned by actor Jean Hersholt, sold for $44,812 at an April 2011 auction.


Fewer than 10 William McKinley “Hobby Horse” cartoon buttons from the 1896 presidential election are known. This example sold for $4,481 at a February 2007 Heritage auction.

This story appears in the Fall 2018 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.