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Hefner private letters could write up $20,000

A long-time connection between Hugh Hefner and a high-school classmate produced the extensive collection of letters and drawings in an auction presented by Potter & Potter July 28.

CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions announces the offering of Chicago native Hugh Hefner’s letters, artwork, and ephemera as part of the company’s 619-lot Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale to be held July 28, 2018.

Hugh Hefner drawing

Hand-drawing note by Hugh Hefner

Hefner Correspondences 

American entrepreneur Hugh Hefner (1926-2017) is best known as the founder and editor of Playboy. He met Jane Borson Sellers, out of whose estate the archive is consigned, at Steinmetz High School in Chicago in the early 1940s and maintained a close relationship with her over the course of his life. Sellers’ collections of Hefner letters, drawings, cards, photos, and clippings capture the extraordinary nature of Hugh’s lifestyle and career.

Hugh Hefner photo

Personalized autographed early photo of Hugh Hefner

This sale offers a dozen Hugh Hefner lots with materials dating from the early 1940s thorough 2017. Lot #445 offers an archive of correspondence between Hefner and Sellers. This collection includes over 60 typed signed letters and autograph letters; snapshots of Hefner and other members of his high school gang; high school yearbook clippings; and a photo of Hefner’s 1949 wedding to Millie Williams. Many of the letters are embellished with original ink cartoon drawings by Hefner.

The whole collection is chronologically organized in a binder, as organized by Borson, with her typed summary of the letters. The preface of the archive is a note from “Hef” on Playboy letterhead dated May 31, 2002: “As I understand it, the contents of personal correspondence is the legal property of the person who wrote the letters, but you have my permission to do whatever you like with them. They are yours with my love—for all the dreams and memories we’ve shared.” This unique offering is estimated at $10,000 to $20,000.

Artistic Skill Showcased

Hefner was a talented amateur cartoonist and considered becoming one professionally. Lot #449, an original Hefner high school cartoon, titled “My Typical Day at Steinmetz,” is estimated at $1,000 to $2,000. This two-page ink and watercolor cartoon from 1943 includes a labeled, hand-drawn diagram titled “Dissection of Soft Shell Clam.”

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Collection of letters Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner collection of letters.

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