AMHERST, N.H – A strangely contemporary mix of fashion, politics, and music across half a millennium marked the top results of R&R’s May auction, which concluded on May 14.
Five centuries before he became the studly subject of Showtime’s series The Tudors, Henry VIII gave real meaning to “the emperor’s new clothes” in a 1512 document addressed to Sir Andrew Wyndesor, “Knight Keeper of Our Greate Wardrobe.” The document, dating to the third year of Henry’s reign, ordered Wyndesor to deliver to Stephyn Jasper, “our Taillor … the following towardes his apparaill,” including “four brode yards and an halfe of violet cloth … for a gown” as well as “black woll,” “black velvet,” and “black damask for a Jaquit.” The document, which boasted Henry’s large, bold signature and cipher, reached $40,612, the auction’s top result.
Another of history’s leaders, Abraham Lincoln, responded to a woman’s offer of aid to Union soldiers in the midst of the Civil War. In the 1863 letter, Lincoln directed the surgeon general to provide facilities for a Mrs. Ames, “who wishes to go anywhere she can to minister to our wounded soldiers.” This poignant memento of America’s bloodiest conflict sold for $27,738.
Music icons Maria Callas, Jacqueline Du Pré, Leonard Bernstein, and others, were the stars of an archive of signed original drawings by the artist Georges. The lot, which comprised more than 1,000 signed portraits, topped the music category at $27,738.
Top performers in the presidential category included a Thomas Jefferson letter recommending a French diplomat, $15,654; a mailing envelope signed by Abraham and Mary Lincoln, $14,231; a very rare executive mansion card signed by Garfield during his brief presidential tenure, $12,936; a handwritten draft of FDR’s will, $10,690; and a Lincoln endorsement discharging a soldier, $8,030.
Historical highlights included a 1962 Lee Harvey Oswald letter mentioning the Francis Gary Powers spy case, $22,923; a document signed by Ferdinand and Isabella, $9,502; a petition for a liquor license signed by John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and three participants in the Boston Tea Party, $8,833; a 1938 Einstein letter discussing the nature of the earth’s rotation and magnetic field, $7,627; and a 1915 “Pancho” Villa letter, $5,484.
Space and aviation items achieved similarly strong results, led by a book signed by all three Apollo 11 crew members, $6,489; a replica of the plaque left on the moon, signed by the Apollo 11 crew and Richard Nixon, $5,899; a book signed by Armstrong, $5,207; and a photo signed by all seven crew members from the ill-fated shuttle Challenger, $4,874.
The music and entertainment categories featured a signed certificate from Bruce Lee’s martial arts school, $10,690; Elvis Presley’s 1958 Army equipment record, signed by him seven times, $10,453; and a letter from Lee to his prize pupil, $9,359.
Sports standouts included a limited edition jersey signed by Mickey Mantle, $5,105; a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, $4,874; and a check signed by Ruth, $4,219.