(LYNBROOK, N.Y.) – A handwritten letter by JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, a copy of LIFE Magazine from 1949 signed by the artist Jackson Pollock and an 1848 Peter Force printing of the Declaration of Independence will headline a 700-lot auction slated for Thursday, Oct. 24, by Philip Weiss Auctions, in the firm’s gallery located at 74 Merrick Road in Lynbrook.
The auction, which starts promptly at 2 p.m. (EST), will feature historical items and
autographs, rare books, vintage war posters, maritime material, rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, occupational shaving mugs and more. Internet bidding will be facilitated by Proxibid.com and Auctionzip.com (with Artfact.com). Telephone and absentee (left) bids will also be accepted.
The Oswald letter could conceivably be pursued by museums, historians, autograph seekers and collectors of presidential memorabilia. Addressed to Gus Hall, the former leader and chairman of the Communist Party USA, it was written on one page using a blue-ink pen. It’s not dated, but it is believed to have been penned in 1963, the year Oswald assassinated Kennedy.
The letter, written in cursive, reads: “Dear Sirs: I have followed the activities of the C.P. for the last few years and have decided that it is very timely and correct for me at this time, to apply for membership in the Communist Party of the U.S. I wish to become a member so I may share as fully as is possible your trails (sic) and tribulations as well as your glories and victories.”
It is addressed in the upper left “Mr. Gus Hall,” with the name “Mrs. E.G. Flynn” beneath that, followed by the Communist Party USA’s New York City address. It is boldly signed at the bottom, “Very sincerely, Lee H. Oswald,” and gives Oswald’s mailing address (“P.O. Box 2915, Dallas, Tex.”). Gus Hall received the letter and kept it in his personal files up until his death.
Anything signed by Jackson Pollock is exceedingly rare, as the artist was not given to signing autographs, so the copy of LIFE Magazine, dated Aug. 8, 1949 and signed by Pollock on the inside, where a story about the painter and his photograph appear, is expected to generate keen bidder interest. The magazine is in overall good condition, with just a little minor fraying.
Jackson Pollock (full name: Paul Jackson Pollock, 1912-1956), was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was best known for his unique style of drip painting. But he was also reclusive and an alcoholic, with a volatile personality. He enjoyed fame but had demons, and died at age 44 in an alcohol-related car crash.
Printed copies of the Declaration of Independence by Peter Force (1790-1868) are highly collectible and can fetch high dollars at auction. The one being sold Oct. 24 was printed in 1848. Force is best remembered as a printer, but he was also a politician, newspaper editor, archivist and historian. He was schooled in printing in New York and later moved to Washington, D.C.
Force’s greatest achievement came as a collector and editor of historical documents. He owned some of the most important documents of the American Revolution (1774-1776) and in 1876 Congress purchased his vast collection of original documents for $100,000. These were installed in the Library of Congress. Force was editor of the National Journal from 1823-1841.
Items pertaining to history’s most famous magician – Harry Houdini – will also come up for bid. The archive of entertainment ephemera includes brochures, advertisements, programs, letterheads, magician business cards, a rare first-edition of Keller the Magician’s first book and more. Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Hungary in 1874. He died in Detroit in 1926.
Occupational shaving mugs are enormously popular with collectors and represent a slice of Americana that has long ago receded into history. Shaving mugs in general were commonly used in barber shops across America in the early 20th century. They held a cake of soap that would be worked into a lather using a bristle brush, to give patrons a close shave with a razor.
In many barber shops, a shelf often held spots for the personalized mugs of the regulars. These mugs usually had the customer’s name, as well as a hand-painted illustration of the man’s occupation. A barber shop had bragging rights if it had the most shaving mugs of any shop in town, or if the mugs were of influential figures in the community. These mugs are coveted today.
Other items in the auction will include barber bottles, fraternal mugs, a large collection of fine leather bindings, rare books, over 100 posters from World Wars I and II, and rare pieces from the White Star Line ship HMHS Britannic, a sister ship of the RMS Titanic. The Britannic was shaken by an underwater mine in 1916, during World War I, and it sank, killing 30 people.
Philip Weiss Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign a single item, an estate or a collection, you may call them at (516) 594-0731; or, you can send an e-mail to Philip Weiss at Phil@WeissAuctions.com. For more information about Philip Weiss Auctions and the upcoming Oct. 24th auction, please log on to www.weissauctions.com.