NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ Autographs auction on Oct. 29 saw solid results for a wide range of presidential, scientific, literary and musical material.
“The market remains strong for unusual autograph items,” said Marco Tomaschett, Autographs Cataloguer, “and both collectors and dealers actively participated throughout the sale.”
Two George Washington items were the top lots: a letter signed “G:Washington,” to the Reverend Doctor John Lathrop, expressing support for voluntary associations, such as the Humane Society, Mount Vernon, February 22, 1788, which sold to a dealer for $18,000; and a partly-printed military discharge signed as Commander-in-Chief, June 11, 1783, which went to a collector for $11,400. All prices include 20 percent buyer’s premium.
Other presidential items included an Abraham Lincoln autograph endorsement signed, regarding a promotion, Washington, August 4, 1864, $5,040; a partly-printed postmaster appointment, incompletely signed, “James,” by James A. Garfield, as President, Washington, 28 June 1881, $9,600; a typed letter signed by Herbert Hoover to General Frank R. McCoy, discussing Pearl Harbor, New York, Dec. 17, 1941, $8,400; and a signed and inscribed photograph of John F. Kennedy, as senator, Washington, 1956, $4,080.
There were several Albert Einstein items, including a typed letter signed to Paul Bonofield, regarding quantum mechanics, Princeton, September 18, 1939, $11,400; and two signed and dated portraits, one a woodcut, 1931, $4,560, the other a graphite drawing, 1951, $6,000.
Autographs of other notable scientists included a Thomas A. Edison letter signed to the Minister of Agriculture of Brazil, regarding the search for a vegetable fiber filament for use in the electric light, Menlo Park, N.J., circa December 1880, $13,200; and a typed letter signed by Carl Jung, to Freud’s biographer Ernest Jones, granting permission to read copies of Freud’s letters and pointing out factual errors in Freud’s biographical information, December 1953, $5,040.
An auction record was set for a signed letter by James Baldwin, a typed letter signed to his editor Samuel Blumenfeld, discussing his work-in-progress and requesting a $20 loan, Cannes, February 11, 1954, sold for $9,000.
Among other literary autographs were a circa 1872 photograph of Walt Whitman, signed and inscribed with his birth date, $4,800; and a two-page autograph letter signed, written by Ernest Hemingway while finishing A Moveable Feast, Ketchum, Idaho, Feb. 22, 1959, $5,400.
There were wonderful musical items, including actor Jay Velie’s copy of the vocal score of Carousel, New York, 1945, signed or signed and inscribed by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and over 100 members of the original production and numerous revivals from 1945 to 1973, $7,200; an autograph note signed, in German, responding to—and written on the same sheet as—a questionnaire about his musical life in Weimar, 1849-50, Tivoli, November 11, 1880, $5,760; and a photograph of Giuseppe Verdi, signed and inscribed, July 20, 1900, less than six months before he died, $6,000.
Rounding out the sale were an early Pablo Picasso autograph letter signed, in French, to an unnamed recipient, Paris, September 1, 1910, $5,280; an archive of approximately 50 letters from Cecil Beaton, to Anita Loos, 1950-79, $4,800; and a printed draft galley of a New Yorker article about Stanley Kubrick, with the filmmaker’s handwritten corrections and additions, and a typed note signed to the article’s author Jeremy Bernstein, 1966, $5,760.
Complete auction results are available online at www.swanngalleries.com.
Photos courtesy Swann Auction Galleries.
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