University Archives is excited to announce its New Year’s sale on January 10, 2024. Bidding is now open! Rare Signed Manuscripts, Books, Photos & Relics is a 400+-lot auction featuring exceptional and desirable material from the U.S. Presidential, Science, Music, Literature & Military collecting categories. Early America, International, Aviation/Space, Art, Civil Rights, and Sports are also well-represented. We hope you can join us!
Our January sale features over 100 lots relating to U.S. Presidents and First Families, with an emphasis on Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and others.
Lot 92 is a draft of Ronald Reagan’s “Win one for the Gipper” speech featuring 8pp of handwritten notes with additional manuscript revisions to typed pages. Reagan delivered this speech as the Commencement Address at the University of Notre Dame on May 17, 1981, just weeks after surviving an assassination attempt. In the speech, Reagan refers to his most memorable acting role portraying Notre Dame’s beloved football player George Gipp in 1940’s Knute Rockne, All American. Reagan quipped, “’Win one for the Gipper’ has become a line usually spoken more in a humorous vein. I hear it from members of Congress who are supportive of the ec[onomic] program I’ve submitted…”
Lot 92, Ronald Reagan AM
Lot 93 is a mixed typed and handwritten draft of Ronald Reagan’s “Welcome Home” speech signed by Reagan as “RR” and copiously annotated with nearly 350 words in his hand. Reagan delivered the final draft of this speech on January 27, 1981 at the White House, just a week after Iranian terrorists released 55 American hostages kidnapped from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. This speech celebrating the hostages’ release is considered one of the best ever produced by The Great Communicator.
Lot 111 is a Revolutionary War-dated letter signed by George Washington dated October 31, 1780 concerning a prisoner exchange. Washington gives instructions to Col. James Wood, commander of the Convention Army, concerning the release of two German officers attached to British General John Burgoyne who had surrendered at the Battle of Saratoga more than 3 years earlier. The letter reveals a compassionate side of Washington’s military decision-making, as he partly agreed to the prisoners’ early release in consideration of their age and health.
Lot 67 is a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair with his clipped signature as “A. Lincoln” displayed in a custom red velvet case. The relic comes with rock-solid provenance from several former custodians, including Henry Pratt Cattell, who embalmed Lincoln’s body; and Justus Chollar, an official tasked with guarding Lincoln’s body during the autopsy and embalming.
Lot 67, Abraham Lincoln hair and clipped signature
Lot 45 is a typed letter signed by John F. Kennedy dated November 8, 1961 addressed to Norman Cousins, Saturday Review editor and Kennedy’s de facto Cold War-era diplomatic envoy. In the letter, Kennedy explains that he wants to “tell the Russian people the facts” about Soviet nuclear testing. The Soviet Union had abruptly ended the terms of the Limited Test Ban Treaty just a few months earlier; this moratorium on nuclear testing had been mutually agreed upon by the United States and U.S.S.R. in 1958.
Lot 2 is a miniature engraving of John Quincy Adams boldly signed by him at top in what is probably one of the earliest examples of a signed presidential image. The portrait comes with an early gilt frame with a Detroit backstamp, and an enameled portrait pin of a woman greatly resembling Adams’s mother Abigail.
Our Science category is headlined by Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Thomas A. Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Michael Faraday, Antoine Henri Becquerel, James Watt, Robert Fulton, Jean-François Champollion, and others.
Lot 392 is a handsome Albert Einstein display featuring a typed card in English signed by him. Einstein addressed the card to a former psychiatric social worker who had asked Einstein his thoughts on human nature, citing an anecdote about an enraged 6-year-old patient. Einstein’s response bears out his belief that human behavior is a product of nurture rather than nature. He wrote: "Practice makes a master / Practice makes a hater / Practice makes one a friend / toward people / It only depends that the creature is / treated in such a way that it gets / practice of the right sort.”
Lot 392, Albert Einstein signed card
Lot 388 is a letter signed by Charles Darwin as “Ch. Darwin.” In the May 22, 1873 letter to fellow British naturalist John Jenner Weir, Darwin discusses birds’ nests and “male bumble bees.” Darwin had researched insect pollination since 1861, and was interested in studying the symbiotic relationship between bumble bees and red clover.
Marvelous Miscellany: Music, Literature, Military, Old West & More!
A highlight of our Music category is Lot 287, a 2pp autograph letter signed by folk musician Woody Guthrie dated October 8, 1945 in which he tells his Army friends: “The little vacation has … caused my guitar to play better. I've turned out to date (12) twelve more personal experience ballads taken from the most hottest spots in the war… best of luck in your ventures into the grass roots of folks songs and folk lore.” In addition to Guthrie, our January sale offers Music items related to Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and others.
Lot 350 is a remarkable piece of literary and Hollywood memorabilia, being a film rights agreement for The Old Man and the Sea twice signed by Ernest Hemingway, author of the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning novella upon which it was based. The contract dated October 17, 1955 pertained not only to Hemingway in his role as “Author” but also to Spencer Tracy, who portrayed Santiago, in his designation as “Artist.” Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Eugene O’Neill, Walt Whitman, and Allen Ginsberg are just a few of the authors featured in our Literature category.
The Old West is alive and well in our January sale, represented by the California Gold Rush, Roy Bean, and the Dalton Gang. Lot 370 is a poignant archive documenting early California history. Comprised of nearly 100 pages including diary entries and letters, the archive tells the story of Warren Porter, an adventurer from Wisconsin who succumbed to “gold fever.”
Lot 310 is a very early example of a Stonewall Jackson autograph letter signed dated December 8, 1861, just months after his promotion to Major General in command of the Valley District headquartered in Winchester, Virginia. Jackson responds to David Walker Barton, one of the leading citizens of Winchester, regarding securing a CSA military appointment for one of Barton’s six sons. All of Barton’s sons eventually served in the Confederate Army, and the family had a 50% mortality rate: one son was killed in action at the First Battle of Winchester, one son fell at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and a third son died of war-related injuries in 1868.
These are just a few of the unique lots that will be offered in our January 10, 2024 sale. We hope to see you there!