Today in History: First Davis Cup Final in 1900

Today in History: First Davis Cup Final in 1900

118 years ago today, the first Davis Cup final took place between the United States and Great Britain, then playing under the name of the British Isles. The fist competition was held at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston where the Americans surprised the British team with an early unbeatable 3-0 lead. The idea for the tournament was conceived in 1899 by four members of the Harvard University tennis team, who wanted to challenge the British to a tennis match. One of the four players, Dwight Davis, developed the tournament format and even purchased a trophy with his own money. The event was originally known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge, but soon became known as the Davis Cup, after Dwight Davis’ trophy. By 2015, 125 nations entered what has become the men’s tennis premier international team competition.

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Today in History: First World War erupts in Europe in 1914

First World War erupts in Europe in 1914

On August 1, 1914, four days after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, two more great European powers—Russia and Germany—declare war on each other; the same day, France orders a general mobilization. The so-called “Great War” that ensued would be one of unprecedented destruction and loss of life, resulting in the deaths of some 20 million soldiers and civilians and the physical devastation of much of the European continent.

The event that was widely acknowledged to have sparked the outbreak of World War I occurred on July 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was shot to death with his wife by the Bosnian Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. Over the weeks that followed, Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack, hoping to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism in the tumultuous Balkans region once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austria-Hungary declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention. This assurance came on July 5; Austria-Hungary subsequently sent an ultimatum to the Serbian government on July 23 and demanded its acceptance within two days at the risk of war. Though Serbia accepted all but two of the ultimatum’s terms, and Russia declared its intention to back Serbia in the case of such a conflict, Austria-Hungary went ahead with its war declaration against Serbia on July 28, one month after the assassinations.

With that declaration, the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers was shattered: Germany warned Russia, still only partially mobilized, that to continue to full mobilization against Austria-Hungary would mean war with Germany. While insisting that Russia immediately halt mobilization, Germany began its own mobilization; when the Russians refused the German demands, Germany declared war on the czarist empire on August 1. That same day, Russia’s ally, France, long suspicious of German aggression, began its own mobilization, urging Great Britain—the third member, along with France and Russia, of the Triple Entente alliance—to declare its support. A divided British government declined to do so initially, but events soon precipitated Britain’s move towards war as well. On August 2, the first German army units crossed into Luxembourg as part of a long-planned German strategy to invade France through neutral Belgium. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3; that night, Germany invaded Belgium, prompting Great Britain to declare war on Germany.

For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. The great majority of people—within government and without—assumed that their country would be victorious within months, and could not envision the possibility of a longer conflict. By the end of 1914, however, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and there was no final victory in sight for either the Allies or the Central Powers. On the Western Front—the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium—the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition, which would continue, in Europe and other corners of the world, for the next four years.

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Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

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Today in History: American Red Cross founded in 1881

Today in History: American Red Cross founded in 1881

137 years ago today, humanitarians Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons found the American National Red Cross in Washington, DC. an organization established to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters in congruence with the International Red Cross. Barton had been known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” for tireless dedication to helping the sick and wounded during the American Civil War. She was in Europe when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 where she joined the International Red Cross to work behind the German lines. After her return to the United States, she organized an American branch of the International Red Cross. The American Red Cross received its first U.S. federal charter in 1900. Barton headed the organization into her 80s and died in 1912.

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Today is National Auctioneers Day

Today is National Auctioneers Day

We simply could not resist: Going once … Going twice … SOLD ! National Auctioneers Day is observed every year on the third Saturday in April. According to the National Auctioneers Association, it is estimated nearly a quarter-trillion dollars in goods and services are sold by professional auctioneers each year. The sales method is over 2,000 years old; in the United States, it developed during the Civil War. The rapidly punctuated chatter of some auctioneers not only gets the job done but can make it entertaining as well. Across the country, auction houses offer anything from livestock to automobiles. Sometimes, some very bizarre (and often quite expensive) items might surface, incl. a false set of Winston Churchill’s teeth that fetched over $23,000 back in 2010.

We just stick to vintage posters for now and hope you will join us for our April 28 sale. Happy bidding. The poster will be offered in our April 28 auction. For inquiries, email

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Today in History: Lincoln is shot in 1865

Today in History: Lincoln is shot in 1865

153 years ago today, 1865 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is shot. The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, wanted to revive the Confederate cause, mere days after their surrender to the Union Army, bringing the American Civil War to an end. Lincoln died the next day.

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Today in History: Joseph Christian Leyendecker was born today in 1874

Today in History: Joseph Christian Leyendecker was born today in 1874

Leyendecker was born in Montabaur, Germany, and immigrated with his family to Chicago, Illinois, at the age of 8. Showing an early interest in painting, he got his first job at the age of 16 in a Chicago engraving house on the strength of some large pictures he had painted on kitchen oilcloth. In the evenings after work, he studied drawing and anatomy under John H. Vanderpoel at the Chicago Art Institute. Years later, he and his brother Frank Xavier enrolled in the Academie Julian in Paris.

Upon their return, the brothers moved to New York, then the center of American commercial art, advertising, and publishing. As a thoroughly trained artist with immense technical facility, Leyendecker had no difficulty in obtaining top commissions for advertising illustrations and cover designs for leading publications.

He found a niche in fashion and merchandise advertising in the 1920s, producing commissioned pieces for companies Interwoven Socks, Kellogg, Hartmarx, B. Kuppenheimer & Co., and Cluett Peabody & Company, who famously hired him to develop a series of images of the Arrow brand of shirt collars. Leyendecker’s images came to define the fashionable American man of the early 20th century.

At the apex of his career, Leyendecker was considered one of the pre-eminent commercial American artists. It is said that his technical skill was beyond reproach, he worked amazingly fast, and that his draftsmanship was perfect. Norman Rockwell at one time considered Leyendecker his primary mentor, as he heavily influenced Rockwell’s early style and was a true master illustrator of the 20th century.

By the end of his career, Leyendecker was a noted American illustrator and graphic designer who, between 1896 and 1950, had painted more than 400 magazine covers, most of them of an idealized America. He painted his first Post cover in 1899 and executed 321 more during the next 40 years.


The USA Bonds World War I poster will be offered in our April 28 auction. For inquiries, email

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