Published: February 20, 2007
A record number of bidders from around the globe, prompted by worldwide press coverage of a Christmas Day letter from Charles Dickens, participated in R&R Enterprises’ final auction of 2006, which ended December 18. The 1849 letter, which begins with warm holiday greetings and ends with a vitriolic attack on an unscrupulous journalistic foe, realized $3,829.
The Christmas association and ironically “Scroogy” tone of the letter captured the imagination of the international press, with news reports appearing in such US outlets as Forbes, the Washington Post and CNN, and in publications throughout Canada, Europe and Australia.
Trumping the beloved British author was Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, whose undying appeal and singular mystique induced one collector to pay $27,738 for an early signed photo. The 1940s image, which features a closeup of the radiant, fresh-faced starlet, is inscribed to Sylvia [Barnhart], the hairdresser who first styled Monroe as a blonde.
Other entertainment standouts included a pristine signed photo of Burt Lahr in character as the Cowardly Lion, $10,453; a 1927 document signed by Greta Garbo in the midst of filming Anna Karenina, $4,430; a signed photo of Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, $4,874; and a copy of the famous first issue of Playboy magazine, featuring Monroe on the cover and signed by Hugh Hefner, $4,634.
The evergreen popularity of The Beatles translated into the top three slots in the music category. Leading the way was a signed 1963 Parlophone photo, $17,731; a copy of John Lennon’s first book signed by all four Beatles, $8,741; and a signed photo of the Fab Four in their distinctive suits and “Beatle boots,” $7,854. One of the “original” longhairs, German romantic Robert Schumann, performed very respectably with a scarce 1843 letter transmitting works for publication, $5,362.
Proving that crime indeed pays, at least in the marketplace, sexpot-cum-spy Mata Hari led historical figures with an elusive handwritten letter, $10,453. On the side of law and order was Abraham Lincoln, with an uncommon presidential pardon, $7,223, an early handwritten legal document, $5,484, and a war-dated military commission, $5,426.
Other notable items included a photo signed by nine of the 12 moonwalkers, $6,045; a photo signed by all seven of the original Mercury astronauts, $4,963; a 1777 military commission signed by John Hancock, $5,969; an enormous photo of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations signed by several members of the royal family, $6,032; a scarce signed photo of explorer Ernest Shackleton in Antarctic togs, $5,362; a manuscript in which Jefferson Davis analyzes the causes of the Civil War, $4,741; and a 1700 document signed by architect Christopher Wren, $5,362.
A best seller in death as in life, Ian Fleming took top honors in art and literature with a signed first edition of You Only Live Twice, $10,577. A letter from Claude Monet on the pricing of his works fetched $4,027; a letter from his colleague, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, $4,027; a handwritten verse and lock of hair from Hans Christian Andersen, $2,272; and an Islamic proverb in the hand of Ralph Waldo Emerson, $2,206.
Maintaining his spot at the top of sports collectors’ want lists was Babe Ruth, with a twice-signed check from the last months of his life, $18,944; an ink signature, $4,324; and a single-signed baseball, $2,904.
A 1937 World Series program signed by Lou Gehrig and several others realized $2,749, while a group of 116 signed baseballs brought $1,655.
All prices include the 19 percent buyer’s premium. For information, 800-937-3880 firstname.lastname@example.org or www.rrauction.com.
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