Published: March 13, 2007
Once again demonstrating their enduring influence †in this case, on collectors †America’s pioneering statesmen made a stellar showing at R&R Enterprises’ first auction of 2007, which closed on January 17.
Though Thomas Jefferson excelled in an astounding range of endeavors, from agriculture to international diplomacy, it was his skills as a surveyor and draftsman that made the biggest impression on determined bidders. A survey map delineating a tract of land in Virginia, drawn by Jefferson and signed by him four times, reached $38,331, earning it the top spot among more than 1,600 items.
Other notable results for the third president included a letter to his friend Thomas Bache, a grandson of Benjamin Franklin, $9,718; a land grant cosigned by James Madison, $7,853; and a handwritten household inventory, $4,985.
Jefferson’s patriotic and presidential colleagues achieved similarly impressive results. A letter from Declaration of Independence signer Richard Henry Lee, discussing Adams and Jefferson, sold for $33,563. An Adams presidential pardon for a mutineer brought $25,342; a financial document from Declaration signer George Taylor, $20,838; a 1798 Washington letter seeking a payment, $19,893; a Bill Clinton correspondence archive, $12,798; a Washington franking signature on a communication to his aide-de-camp, $10,577; and a ship’ registry signed by John Hancock, $4,933.
Other top-performing history makers included Winston Churchill, whose 1899 letter discussing his forthcoming book brought $18,741. A significant letter from Charles “Chinese” Gordon reached $13,515; a photo of Ché Guevara inscribed to a prominent Cuban poet, $10,453; a Martin Luther King Jr letter referencing the civil rights struggle, $7,854; a letter written by Gandhi in the aftermath of an assassination attempt, $7,723; a signed photo of Confederate “Gray Ghost” John S. Mosby, $7,627; a 1596 document signed by James I, $6,933; a set of photos signed by all 12 moonwalkers, $6,489; and an early handwritten receipt from Stonewall Jackson, $6,032.
A reference to fabled fictional detective Sherlock Holmes proved irresistible to bidders on a circa 1896 letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which headed art and literature with a result of $16,836. Other standouts included an 1854 Melville letter mentioning his ongoing serial Israel Potter, $12,798; an original pencil drawing with documentation from American master Thomas Hart Benton, $8,741; an early photo signed by Walt Disney, $7,299; and a Tolkien letter with a reference to archery, $6,489.
Proving that his legend only continues to grow more than three decades after his death, Jimi Hendrix led music and entertainment with a handwritten letter, $12,798, and a program signed together with his Experience band mates, $10,996. A letter from Bruce Lee on teaching a martial arts class realized $7,210; a guitar signed by Pink Floyd, $6,933; and a scarce signed photo of the original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, $4,602.
The national pastime led the sports lineup with a group of Hall of Fame baseballs, $5,950; a home-run jersey signed by Mickey Mantle, $5,228; a Mantle-signed bat, $4,062; and a crisp Babe Ruth signature, $4,027.
All prices above include the 19 percent buyer’s premium. For information, 800-937-3880 or www.rrauction.com.
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