University Archives Closes Its May 15, 2024 Sale

    University Archives’ May 15, 2024 online sale, Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Books & Memorabilia, took place earlier this week. Our auctioneer John Reznikoff and UA staff were kept quite busy during the 6-hour-long sale, thanks to feverish activity on four online platforms, as well as plenty of absentee and phone bidders. Our 8,500+ approved sale bidders virtually attended from around the world: from the United States, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Romania, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Japan, Belgium, and China. We had over 129,000 lot views, and over 1,800 online bids were presented. This intense interest informed our impressive sell-through rate of 95%, one of the highest in the autograph and rare books industry. Several standouts from our May 15th auction are summarized below. The Civil Rights, Science, Aviation/Space, Military and U.S. Presidential collecting categories finished especially strongly.

    Science, Aviation & Space

    Lot 397 was a 1p autograph letter in German signed by Albert Einstein dated September 29, 1937 and addressed to fellow physicist Cornelius Lanczos. The letter featured about 200 words in Einstein’s hand as well as around six mathematical formulae including Rik = 0, Einstein’s second-most famous equation after E = MC2. Displayed in a custom mat next to a photograph of Einstein famously scrawling Rik = 0 on a chalkboard following an astronomy lecture, the letter sold for $40,625 including the buyer’s premium.

    Lot 397, Albert Einstein ALS

    Lot 208 was a handsome period display case containing a piece of the Holy Grail of Aviation: a fabric swatch of “Pride of the West muslin” once part of the fuselage of Flyer 1, the early aircraft designed by Wilbur and Orville Wright and tested during the December 7, 1903 Kitty Hawk flight trials. The fabric swatch was accompanied by an unusually extensive paper trail of provenance relating to Orville Wright’s gifting of the fabric to Lester Gardner; Smithsonian Museum curator Paul Garber; and the transportation of Flyer 1 to and from England. The relic sold for nearly twice its high estimate, or $12,500 including the buyer’s premium.

    Lot 197 was a souvenir black and white photograph, ca. 1960, boldly signed by pioneering cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov. Cosmonaut autographs by themselves are not unusual, but the subject of the photograph -  a heroic portrait of Belka and Streika, two Soviet dogs who successfully survived a day-long trip to Space on August 19, 1960 – made this piece very rare. The item sold for $1,280 including the tip - over twice its high estimate!

    U.S. Presidential

    Lot 3 was a rare presidential signed patent protecting Joseph Turner’s invention of propellers and propelling levers, signed by President John Quincy Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay. The document dated March 12, 1825 easily could have been destroyed during the 1836 blaze at the United States Patent Office, which burnt up an estimated 70% of patents featuring presidential signatures issued before 1836. In consequence, signed presidential patents from this period are much rarer than land grants, ship’s papers, and military commissions. The document sold for nearly four times its high estimate, or $4,687.50 including the buyer’s premium.

    Lot 3, John Quincy Adams (and Henry Clay) DS

    Lot 11 was a typed letter signed by President Jimmy Carter dated September 29, 1978 addressed to newspaper correspondent Jacob Kisner regarding his reporting of the Camp David Accords. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat had signed the document less than two weeks earlier, on September 17, 1978. Progress made during this summit led to the 1979 peace treaty and resulted in a shared Nobel Peace Prize. The boldly signed letter sold for $4,062 including the tip, which is over 200% of its high estimate.

    Lot 100 was a book from James Polk’s personal legal library, a first edition hardcover copy of Cases of Contested Elections in Congress from the Year 1789 to 1834, Inclusive signed by James Polk as “J.K. Polk” on the title page. Ex-Tennessee State Library. The signed book sold for 40% over its high estimate, or $3,000 including the buyer’s premium.

    Marvelous Miscellany (Early America, Sports, Etc.)

    Lot 267 was a display case featuring a coin silver teaspoon hand-crafted by celebrated colonial silversmith Paul Revere, and possibly presented to Alexander Hamilton. The teaspoon is suspended in a floating mount within a mirrored shadowbox that enables the viewer to see Revere’s maker’s mark as well as the monogram “A.H.” on the handle terminal. The item sold for 25% over its high estimate, or $7,500 including the tip.

    Lot 422 was a National League Charles S. Feeney official baseball, ca. 1974-1976, signed by 19 Baseball Hall of Famers including Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, Ralph Kiner, Whitey Ford, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Duke Snider, and others. Accompanied by a JSA LOA. The signed baseball sold for over its high estimate of $1,500, for $3,000 including the buyer’s premium.

    Lot 333 was a Tiffany & Company printed invitation to the Statue of Liberty inauguration ceremony held at Bedloe Island on October 26, 1886. This lovely piece of ephemera sold for over six times its high estimate, or $5,625 including the buyer’s premium.

    Lot 333, Statue of Liberty Ephemera

    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 June 26, 2024. We hope you can join us!