Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt ALS to Director of the US Mint Ray Baker - 1935

Autograph Letter Signed in the bold hand of Roosevelt himself, written in black ink with a fountain pen. It conveys a caring sentiment FDR sent to an old friend and colleague, Raymond T. Baker, who the president had appointed Director of the United States Mint in 1917. Baker had suffered a heart attack in 1935, and upon hearing the news FDR sent this note on March 19, writing:

Dear Ray –

I was distressed to hear of your illness. Do what the doctors say & get on your feet again quickly – My affectionate regards

As ever yours
Franklin D Roosevelt

Handwritten letters of FDR have always been scarce. This letter, with its intimate and interesting association, is a superb piece for any serious Roosevelt or presidential collector. The letter has a single mailing fold and is in excellent condition.

Who was Ray Baker?

Born in 1877, Raymond T. Baker had a remarkably vibrant life. Over the span of 55 years he was at various times a cattle puncher, a stage actor, a Stanford graduate, a copper miner and a gold prospector, a prison warden, a bond investor, first secretary to the Russian Ambassador, a lobbyist for the shipping industry, a candidate for the US Senate—and was the first mining prospector to be named Mint Director.

On June 12, 1918, Ray Baker married Margaret Vanderbilt, whose former husband, Alfred—sportsman, millionaire, and patriarch of the Vanderbilt family—lost his life when the RMS Lusitania sank in 1915. As author John Grissim wrote, “…The press had a field day—handsome Nevada miner and adventurer now running the U.S. Mint marries the most beautiful and altogether richest woman in America (she was worth a tidy $50 million)….”

But after ten years that marriage ended in divorce, and Ray married automobile heiress Delphine Dodge, the only daughter of Horace Dodge, one of the two co-founders of the Dodge Motor Company.

Clearly Raymond Baker was, as his great nephew writes, “…a man who thrived on the adventure of the here and now, who earned and freely spent several small fortunes, and who took much satisfaction when no less a personage than Franklin Roosevelt one evening at an intimate White House dinner introduced Ray Baker as “the golden boy from the Silver State.”

Baker died three months after suffering the heart attack that prompted this letter from the president, which comes to us from Mr. Baker’s great nephew, the writer John Grissim, who provides a solid and entertaining written provenance for FDR’s letter, along with a richly biographical article that John had written about his colorful great uncle in 1983 for Nevada Magazine.

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT (1882-1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was the 32nd president of the United States. Elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945 and is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms. FDR was a central figure of the 20th century during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war.

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