University Archives’ Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books sale took place yesterday, November 2, 2022. The 449-lot sale began at a new start time of 11:00 AM EDT, as an experimental attempt to better accommodate our West Coast bidders. Throughout the six-hour-long sale session, more than 70 lots per hour were sold. American, French, British, Canadian, and German bidders monopolized our online presence, though bidders from Sweden, China, Puerto Rico, and South Africa also muscled in. Collecting market trends established earlier in 2022 have remained vigorous; Presidential, Science, Aviation & Space remain the most resilient collecting categories.
Once again, U.S. Presidential and First Lady memorabilia are fetching virtually market-proof high prices. Our November sale featured highlights related to George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy, among others.
Lot 95 was a Revolutionary War-dated letter boldly signed by George Washington at Continental Army winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey following the important victories at the Battles of Princeton and Trenton. Washington reported to Brigadier General Alexander McDougall that he did “not apprehend you will be in any danger of an Attack in your quarter for some time yet, as the Enemy from their late Motions are drawing this way.” It sold for $43,750 including the buyer’s premium, or 20% higher than its low estimate.
One of the most exciting moments of the sale came when Lot 48, a ceremonial sword that was mounted on John F. Kennedy’s catafalque in the East Room of the White House, came up to the auction block. The sword, with its elaborately etched blade measuring 31” long, white shark skin and brass wire-wrapped grip, and stiff sword knot was a poignant reminder of how Jackie Kennedy memorialized her husband by drawing on mourning ritual in the assassination aftermath. It exchanged hands for $34,375 including the tip.
A Civil War-dated petition featuring BOTH signatures of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson achieved $21,250 including the tip, trouncing its low estimate of $14,000. Presidential and military collectors recognized the document’s importance and rarity. Dual Lincoln and Johnson signed documents are extremely scarce because the two men served in office together for only six weeks before Lincoln’s assassination. Adding to its desirability was the fact that the petition urged Lincoln to extend amnesty to a Confederate prisoner-of-war near war’s end.
Lot 64 was a War of 1812-dated four-language ship’s papers signed by James Madison as President and James Monroe as Secretary of State requesting safe passage for an Amsterdam-bound brig named “Eliza Wheeler.” Collectors recognized that this was an extremely attractive example of these types of mercantile documents; it sold for $4,375 including the buyer’s premium, or nearly four times its high estimate!
Science, Aviation & Space
Albert Einstein, the Wright Brothers, and Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins netted some of the sale’s most aggressive prices.
Lot 331 was an autograph letter signed by Albert Einstein addressed to colleague Hans Reichenbach. In it, Einstein condemned scientific theories advanced by Hermann Weyl and others to compete with his own Theory of Relativity. The letter passed the auction block for $23,750 including the tip.
A remarkable piece of aviation history, Lot 454 was a CAG encapsulated fabric swatch of part of the Wright Brothers’ Kitty Hawk-flown flyer. The swatch, measuring just .625” x .75, had impeccable provenance from the Wright Estate and Harvey D. Geyer, a Wright Brothers’ employee. It sold for $8,125 including the buyer’s premium.
Staying with miniature collectibles, three tiny pieces of Apollo 11 space-flown camera film garnered $3,500 including the buyer’s premium. The film depicted images taken aboard the Columbia (CM-107), the Command Module that brought the first astronauts to the Moon.
These were just a few of the unique items from our memorable November sale.
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 scheduled for December 14, 2022.