Autograph collecting was a popular pastime during the 19th century. Many people purchased commercially produced albums made specifically for acquiring autographs of famous politicians. In Washington, D.C., it was common practice for Capitol visitors to send albums into the Senate and House chambers to seek autographs. According to one contemporary source, Senate pages were offered as much as five dollars to ask senators for their signature.
Published in 1844, this leather-bound album came complete with engraved signatures "of the President and Cabinet, Twenty-eighth Congress, Supreme Court, Ministers, and other Officers of Government," as well as hand-colored lithographs of the House and Senate chambers. On the 100 blank pages at the back of the book, the album's owner was able to secure 270 autographs from senators and representatives of the 28th and 29th Congresses (1843-1847). Signers include Senators John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, Sam Houston, Stephen Douglas, Andrew Johnson, Congressman and former President John Quincy Adams, and author and Minister to Spain Washington Irving.