University Archives April 10, 2024 World Record-Breaking Sale Results

    University Archives held its online sale, Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Books & Memorabilia, at our Wilton, Connecticut headquarters on April 10, 2024. Bidders  from five of seven continents joined us as 363 sensational items passed the auction block. The sale recalled retail exuberance reminiscent of bygone COVID days; items related to John F. Kennedy, World War II, and Literature achieved exponentially high prices. Highlights came from the following collecting categories: Entertainment, U.S. Presidential, Art, Literature, Military, as well as Space.


    Lot 178 was not only the highest-selling item in our April sale, but it also broke the world record for the highest price ever achieved for a Marilyn Monroe signed photograph! It exchanged hands for $56,250 including the buyer’s premium, surpassing its high estimate by a cool 20%. The vintage black and white 8” x 10” pin-up photograph of Marilyn Monroe, signed by her as “Marilyn Monroe” just a year after she had discarded Norma Jeane Mortenson in favor of her iconic stage name, proved irresistible to the American buyer. The rare combination of photo quality, signature quality (PSA/DNA graded 10), image composition, and age (early in the starlet’s career) explains the incredibly high price.

    U.S. Presidential

    Lot 88 was a transmittal cover boldly free franked by former president George Washington as “Free / Go: Washington,” ca. October 21, [1799], less than two months before his death. The cover was addressed to a Revolutionary War veteran, Captain Abraham Shepherd of Shepherdstown, Virginia, who was one of the only known set of five fighting Patriot brothers. The Washington free frank sold for $20,000 including the tip, easily surpassing its high estimate.

    Lot 11 was a block of wood removed from the White House during its 1927 remodeling. The wooden block had supported the roof of the 1815 Madison-era Executive Mansion built following the burning of the previous “People’s House” by the British during the War of 1812. The relic garnered $3,000 including the buyer’s premium, selling for six times its high estimate.

    Lot 11, White House relic

    Lot 41 was a 10K gold 1961 John F. Kennedy Inauguration medal in its original box gifted to attendees of the inaugural ball. The medal, which depicted a bas relief portrait of both JFK and LBJ, came along with an inaugural ball invitation, from the collection of Helen Keyes, a family friend of Kennedy’s who had assisted him during his U.S. Senate, 1960 and 1964 presidential campaigns. The medal and invitation sold for $2,000 including the buyer’s premium, selling for four times its high estimate.


    Lot 104 was a charming July 4th print signed by beloved “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz. The signed print, depicting Snoopy as a Revolutionary War foot soldier, Charlie Brown as a drummer, and Lucy playing a fife, sold for ten times its low estimate, or $3,750 including the buyer’s premium.


    Lot 275 was a print of a bull and bullfighter after Fuser Artigas, boldly signed by Hispanophile Ernest Hemingway. The print was also signed by nine Spanish matadors including Luis Miguel Dominguin and Antonio Ordonez, two rivals whose tumultuous relationship Hemingway described in The Dangerous Summer, a non-fiction account that he was working on around this time. The print came with a Beckett Letter of Authenticity and sold for nearly twelve times its high estimate, or $43,750 including the tip.

    Lot 275, Ernest Hemingway (and matadors!) Signed Print

    Military Especially World War II & Civil War

    Lot 119 was a print from a 1/48 scale B-25 Bomber model kit signed by James H. Doolittle and 24 raiders from the eponymous World War II mission. Doolittle, along with airmen from crews 1-3, 5-10, and 12-16 – including three rarer signers, Fred Braemer, Ted Lawson, and Edward York – signed the colorful print. It achieved $8,320 including the buyer’s premium, which was an incredible sixteen times its high estimate.

    Lot 202 was an extremely rare glass negative after Timothy H. O’Sullivan’s “A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania,” as published in Gardner’s 1866 Photographic Sketch Book of the War. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only example of this type to cross the auction block. Ex-Brown Brothers Archive. The photograph sold for $4,687.50 including the tip, which was over five times its high estimate.

    Lot 212 was a letter signed by Secretary of State William H. Seward dated September 29, 1865, just five months after Abraham Lincoln was murdered, and five months after Seward’s own near assassination by Lincoln conspirator Lewis Powell. Seward regretfully declined attending an upcoming Independence event in Boston, explaining that his delay in RSVPing was caused by the “casualties of the season.” The signed letter sold for $4,375 including the buyer’s premium, which was almost six times its high estimate.


    Lot 110 was an official NASA photo portrait of all three Apollo XI astronauts, boldly signed and uninscribed, and accompanied by not one but two Letters of Authenticity, from PSA/DNA and JSA. The photo signed by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin sold for $8,750 including the tip, which was 30% over its high estimate.

    Thank you so much for your interest. We’re always interested in hearing from you. Contact us today if you have items like these that you’d like to consign or sell.

    Our next sale is tentatively scheduled for May 15, 2024. We hope you can join us!