University Archives February 21, 2024 Sale Results

    University Archives held its February auction, Rare Signed Manuscripts, Books, Photos, and Relics, at its offices in Wilton, Connecticut last week. 468 lots crossed the auction block during the sale, which lasted over 6 hours. Bidding was especially intense during the first block of the sale, U.S. Presidents & First Ladies, and was invigorated by lively participation from multiple sources: online, absentee, and phone. Overall, U.S. Presidents joined Science and Religion as the strongest performing collecting categories of the February sale, though Space, Civil Rights, and Sports also achieved great results.

    U.S. Presidents

    Lot 124 was an autograph endorsement signed by Ronald Reagan, formulated as a letter draft on the bottom of a typed letter signed by FBI officer Mark Felt, known better by his pseudonym “Deep Throat.” One week earlier, Reagan had granted presidential pardons to Felt and fellow FBI officer Edward Miller, both of whom had been convicted of authorizing unconstitutional home searches during the Watergate era. Reagan’s note to Felt explains that no thanks were necessary, and that Reagan was simply fulfilling a campaign promise by exonerating Felt and other whistleblowers. Reagan’s signed note sold for nearly five times more than the high estimate, or $23,750 including the buyer’s premium.

    Lot 87 was a military commission signed by Abraham Lincoln as President and Gideon Welles as Secretary of the Navy. Civil War collectors not only liked the attractive presentation of the item, but also its rarity, as only a few dozen Lincoln-signed Marine Corps military promotions exist. The document was for Marine Corps Second Lieutenant John C. Harris, the nephew of Colonel Commandant John Harris, commander of the Marine Corps since 1859. The piece sold for its high estimate, netting $12,500 including the tip.

    Lot 87, Abraham Lincoln DS

    Lot 129 was a 1p autograph letter draft signed by Ronald Reagan on “White House” stationery, together with another document featuring three separate signatures, one as “Ronald Reagan” and two as “RR.” In this letter to ad executive Jack Kerr, Reagan refers to his “new job,” that is, his recent inauguration as 40th U.S. President, and says dryly: “In fact there have already been a few days in this new job when I longed to be back doing 'Death Valley Days.'” Reagan had worked with Kerr while serving as host of and actor in the television western “Death Valley Days” from 1964-1966, Reagan’s last-ever acting commitment. The item sold for over twice the high estimate, or $11,250 including the buyer’s premium.

    Lot 57 was a scarce original unused window poster advertising John F. Kennedy’s upcoming birthday celebration on May 19, 1962 at Madison Square Garden. The poster, 13.875” x 20,” lists some of the celebrity event headliners: Marilyn Monroe, who would sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” at the event; Judy Garland; Jack Benny; Ella Fitzgerald; Danny Kaye, and others. The piece exchanged hands for 15% above the high estimate, or $8,750 including the buyer’s premium.

    Lot 38 was a Thomas Jefferson cut free frank as “free / Th: Jefferson Pr. US.”, n.d. but ca. 1801-1809. PSA/DNA slabbed and graded NM-MT 8. The item sold for 50% above its high estimate, or $7,680 including the tip.


    Lot 430 was a 1p autograph manuscript in German by Albert Einstein, relating to the development of his United Field Theory. A working document, the manuscript is heavily edited by Einstein, with numerous contemporary cross-outs, insertions, and rewrites appearing throughout the text of 170+ words and 7 lines of equations. In it, Einstein concludes in part: "This and the conjugate equation form the 'energy-impulse principle' in its natural form." The item sold for over the low estimate, or $40,625 including the buyer’s premium.


    Lot 229 was a 1p autograph letter signed by Methodist religious leader John Wesley, addressed to an itinerant preacher regarding the latter’s efforts to proselytize a congregation at Kings Lynn. Wesley advocates practicing all elements of the “gentle ministry”: patience, compassion, and persistence. Wesley wrote in part, “Deal very gently with them. And lovingly labour to convince...[them]." The piece sold for over five times its high estimate, or $32,000 including the tip.

    Lot 229, John Wesley ALS

    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 April 2, 2024. We hope you can join us!