University Archives’ inaugural sale of 2023, Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia,was a smashing success, attracting over 7,400 online and live bidders and generating over a half million dollars in sales. Participants from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, Romania, and France led bidding by actual bids placed by country, but interestingly, this sale also attracted new interest from Asia, specifically China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. 2023 also saw the continuation of our unbroken record (since June 2020) of maintaining a sell-through rate above 90% for sales comprising 250 lots or more. The U.S. Presidential, Sports, Literature, Art, and Civil Rights collecting categories yielded some of the most exciting results of the sale.
An elegant Civil War-dated consular appointment boldly and fully signed as “Abraham Lincoln” sold for $10,000 including the buyer’s premium. The appointment was for William Walton Murphy, who represented American interests in the landgraviate of Hesse-Homberg at Frankfurt-am-Main throughout the 1860s. Hesse-Homberg’s money--mostly from its gambling houses and spas--helped finance the Union Army through U.S. bond sales.
Lot 92 was a 1p autograph letter signed by James Madison addressed to U.S. Secretary of War Lewis Cass. In it, Madison wrote congratulating Cass on a speech he had delivered before the American Historical Society, reasoning, “If History be philosophy teaching by examples, it will, itself, be instructed by the Philosophy of such Discourses.” The remarkable letter sold for $3,500 including the tip, or nearly double the high estimate.
Lot 92, Detail, James Madison ALS
The last 26 lots of our February sale consisted of sports memorabilia, ranging from athlete-worn jerseys and team baseballs, to autograph letters signed, signed trading cards, ephemera, and broadsides. Competition was fierce for Lot 442, a Wayne Gretzky All-Star exhibition game-worn sweater signed and dedicated by the Canadian “Great One” to MLB relief pitcher Duane Ward. This sold to a Canadian collector for $12,500 including the buyer’s premium. Selling for almost twice its high estimate, the signed jersey also skated through previous auction results from 2016, suggesting the sports market is appreciating in value.
Lot 442, Wayne Gretzky signed jersey
Lot 441 was a courteous handwritten thank-you note from legendary New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, expressing his gratitude for fruit sent to his mother. The letter sold for $10,000 including the tip, or 30% over its high estimate.
A 1955 Yankees baseball signed by 25 players including Mantle, Skowron, Turley, Robinson, Ford, Wiesler, Stengel, Leja, Carey, Cerv, Turner, Byrne, McDougald, Konstanty, Grim, Howard, Sturdivant, Larsen, Kucks, Noren, Dickey, Silvera, Bauer, Coleman, and Berra, sparked spirited bidding. The baseball sold for $3,500 including the buyer’s premium.
Literary collectors loved a gently self-mocking 2pp autograph letter signed by Mark Twain and likely addressed to his close friend in Hartford, Connecticut, Eliza Robinson, regarding an invitation. Twain regretted that Livy was busy packing trunks, “But I shall be there, all shaved & fixed up, beyond expression, & ready to engage in innocent amusements, or crime, or anything that is going.” The letter sold for $3,500 including the tip, a boost over the high estimate of nearly 300%.
Lot 406, Mark Twain ALS
A first edition pamphlet entitled “An Account of the Proceedings of the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, on the Charge of Illegal Voting, at the Presidential Election in Nov. 1872" published in Anthony’s adopted hometown of Rochester, New York, sold for $9,375 including the buyer’s premium. This exceedingly rare copy, in near fine condition considering its age, changed hands for over 18 times the high estimate!
Frank Lloyd Wright wrote his one-time patron, Darwin D. Martin of Buffalo, New York, a 2pp autograph letter signed about renovations needed at 428 Forest Avenue, a Chicago property designed and built by Wright in 1889. The house needed extensive repairs to cracking walls and burst radiators to ready it for rental. The irony of an architect complaining about the state of one of his own house designs was appreciated by the buyer; the item sold for $8,125 including the tip, or more than 50% above the 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 March 15, 2023.