Published: December 5, 2006
Highly competitive bidding among the participants in R&R’s November auction yielded strong results across the entire range of categories, including a number of new auction records.
More than four decades after his epochal journey as the first American in space, Alan Shepard broke another record with a 1959 letter to his parents.
The three-page letter, in which the test pilot eloquently expresses his hope to be chosen for NASA’s man-in-space program, took top honors with a price of $28,977. Described by space expert Scott Cornish as “the most historically significant astronaut-signed letter ever to be offered on the market,” the letter handily established a new auction record for any example of space-related correspondence.
Auction highlights included a photo of Charles Lindbergh posing with his Spirit of St Louis that sold for $12,670, a large original remnant of fabric from that legendary aircraft at $8,243, a lunar topographical map signed by the Apollo 11 crew at $10,453, and an Apollo 11-flown treaty from the collection of crew member Michael Collins that realized $5,899.
Leading R&R’s presidential pack was George Washington, with a document signed as president of the Potomac Company that fetched $8,030, a military promotion signed by Abraham Lincoln at $7,858, a note from Lincoln asking his Treasury Secretary “to see & hear this lady who wants employment,” for $5,426, a Jefferson free frank, $4,760; and a 1932 FDR letter discussing his cousin and Oval Office predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, $3,232.
Perhaps the most famous of presidential offspring, ill-fated John F. Kennedy Jr, led notables with an archive that included his assistant district attorney ID badge at $8,833. Other items from prominent names in Americana, science, arts, and letters included a rare photo of Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson, $8,833; a justice of the peace appointment signed by John Hancock, $7,946; a war-dated “Stonewall” Jackson endorsement, $7,946 and a photo signed by Robert E. Lee, $7,299.
A letter from Paul Cézanne took $7,203 while a military order signed by Stalin sold for $6,489; a letter from Nietzsche, $5,969; a Charles Darwin letter commenting on the appearance of a skull, $5,899; a Frank Lloyd Wright letter on the training of architects, $5,729; an unusual relic from Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa, a signed baseball, $5,629; and an original DNA sketch signed by co-discoverers Watson and Crick, $5,362.
A document direct from Hollywood’s quintessential success story raised the bar for one of filmdom’s most colorful personalities. The contract signed by 16-year-old Judy (later “Lana”) Turner following her discovery at a soda fountain realized $6,812, a new auction record for any item signed by the sultry star of The Postman Always Rings Twice and Peyton Place.
Other entertainment and music standouts included a photo signed by Marilyn Monroe, $11,635; a photo signed by all three of the original Stooges, $6,489; an enormous photo signed by Dvorák, $4,985; a Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue AMQS, $4,784; and a signed photo of Walt Disney with a basset hound (not Pluto), $3,660.
Athletic offerings included a program signed by Iowa football legend Nile Kinnick that brought $3,556, a World Series photo signed by Lou Gehrig at $3,137 and a Babe Ruth check signed as coach for the Dodgers, $2,328.
All prices reported include the 19 percent buyer’s premium. For more information, www.rrauction.com or 800-937-3880.
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