Published: June 6, 2006
The recent autograph auction at Swann Galleries offered a diverse assortment of autograph letters signed by American presidents, military figures and well-known scientists and physicians, and results surpassed expectations.
An important autograph letter signed by Abraham Lincoln to his law partner and political confidant, John T. Stuart, that discusses his possible run for local office as well as the upcoming presidential race between Van Buren and Harrison, 1840, brought $80,500.
Other notable presidential material included an autograph letter signed by John F. Kennedy as “Jack Kennedy LT USNR,” written on April 9, 1944, two years after the PT-109 incident, $10,350; and a typed letter signed by Lyndon B. Johnson as President, to Upton Sinclair, concerning the murder of three young civil rights workers in Mississippi, Washington, January 6, 1965, $8,625.
In addition to the Kennedy letter, there were many World War II items, including a very large collection of correspondence from senior American officers in WWII to various autograph collectors, 1940s-50s, $5,750; and a photo of the German surrender at Field Marshall B.L. Montgomery’s headquarters on May 3, 1945, signed and inscribed by Montgomery, $8,050.
Featured American Revolution items included a retained draft of an autograph letter written to George Washington from revolutionary Samuel Cooper, congratulating Washington on American’s victory over Great Britain, Boston, September 1782, $8,625.
The auction also featured a selection of material from theCivil War, such as an autograph letter signed by Ulysses S. Grant,to General George Meade, concerning Confederate movements at theBattle of New Market Heights, City Point, Va., October 1, 1864,$5,520; and an album containing 46 signatures of Union generals andpoliticians, each with a carte-de-visite photograph, 1860s-80s,$12,650.
Medical and scientific highlights included an autograph letter signed by Edward Jenner, which was sent along with some of the smallpox vaccine he developed, and containing instructions for its use, $14,950; two autograph letters signed from Charles Darwin to naturalist W.A. Leighton related to botanical research, circa 1861 and 1863, $12,650 and $8,050 respectively; a group of seven autograph letters signed by Oliver Wendell Holmes from 1870-73, to a Dr John H. Jackson on topics including opium eating, $8,625; as well as another Holmes item, an unsigned and untitled autograph poem, about physicians treating the sick, $4,830.
There was also an autograph letter signed by Sigmund Freud in English to Dr Josephine Jackson, Vienna, January 3, 1929, commenting on his difficulties with growing older, $8,050.
Among the Hollywood-related material was an autograph manuscript by Errol Flynn, written while he was working on a plantation in New Guinea in his preacting days, 1933, $8,050; and the original pitch book for Jacques Cousteau’s television series, with photographs, original watercolors and autograph letters signed from circa 1965-70, $6,325.
Featured literary and art items included an autograph letter signed by Ernest Hemingway to a literary editor, mentioning A Farewell to Arms, Paris, June 24, 1929, $5,750; a portrait photograph signed by Nobel prize winning author Thomas Mann, German, 1929, $2,530; an inscribed pencil drawing signed by Jean Cocteau, “a portrait of a young man,” 1943, $4,830; and an autograph manuscript signed by Saul Bellow, containing a portion of a draft of his play, Last Analysis, Chicago, circa 1962, $5,750.
Swann Galleries is at 104 East 25th Street. All prices include the 15 percent buyer’s premium. For more information, www.swanngalleries.com or 212-254-4710, extension 27.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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