Former Presidents and their First Ladies will take center stage in University Archives' Jan. 17 sale
Former United States presidents and their wives will take center stage in University Archives' online-only auction of autographs, books and relics slated for Wednesday, January 17th, at 10:30 am Eastern time. The full catalog is up and online now.
By: University Archives
The sale is packed with 218 lots of important, scarce and collectible signed documents and other items relating to some of the most important names in all of history. The top lot could well end up being from First Lady Martha Washington, whose handwritten and signed letter from 1794, regarding a meeting of "The President" and James Madison, should finish at $25,000-$30,000. This letter was previously auctioned at Christie's in 1989, in the prestigious Doheny collection.
Speaking of the Madisons, a document signed by James Madison in 1809, as President, issuing a patent to a Mr. Atkinson Farra for his "double-bored pendulum pump," is expected to hit $2,000-$4,000;
JFK items are a huge hit with collectors. A letter typed and signed on U.S. Senate letterhead by Kennedy in 1957, regarding a discrimination issue dating to World War II, has an estimate of $1,000-$2,000;
Not to be outdone, Jackie Kennedy is also represented in the sale, with two lots having estimates of $3,000-$4,000 each. One is her personally owned and worn white gloves (her favorite fashion accessory), with important provenance; and her personally owned and worn navy blue leather belt, embellished with gold buckles and detailing at the front, consigned by her former secretary.
What's more valuable, an Abraham Lincoln related pen or a George Washington actually used pencil? Answer: the pencil. The mechanical pencil personally owned by Washington, beautifully framed and with his portrait print, should garner $10,000-$12,000;
Keeping in the same vein, an early 1800s miniature wood carving of an axe, 7 inches long, made from an elm tree growing in the area where then-Gen. Washington encamped his army on their march, culminating in the crossing of the Delaware River in Dec. 1776, should make $600-$700. Also, a superb land grant on vellum, signed and dated (June 11, 1787) by Benjamin Franklin, an unusually well-preserved example with strong contrasting ink, has an estimate of $8,000-$9,000.
Several documents signed by Lincoln have strong appeal, such as an early legal brief written entirely in his hand circa 1841 or 1842, when he was still an Illinois lawyer (est. $4,500-$5,000);
Thomas Jefferson items will feature a lengthy letter written and signed by the third president, during the War of 1812, relating to his beloved Shadwell, one of four farms owned by him (est. $8,000-$9,000;
A rare, partly printed document signed "James A. Garfield" as president, dated April 29, 1881, in which he appoints Francis W. Seeley postmaster for Lake City, Minn., has a reasonable estimate of $9,000-$10,000. Also, a military commission dated May 2, 1907, signed by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt and countersigned by William Taft as Secretary of War, should fetch $1,000-$1,200.
A letter typed and signed by Harry Truman in May 1961, one of only a few known in which he ruminates on his decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan as an expedient means to end World War II, has an estimate of $4,000-$5,000. Also, three individual card place settings on heavy card stock for Pres. Dwight Eisenhower and Russia's Nikita Khrushchev, for an official dinner, should rise to $1,000-$3,000.
A designer porcelain enameled pillbox with a Japanese garden scene, gifted and inscribed to Mrs. Nancy Reagan by Tina Sinatra, Frank Sinatra's daughter from his first marriage, carries an estimate of $1,500-$2,000;
A one-page letter, written in May 1831 and signed by then-Pres. Andrew Jackson, to Acting Sec. of the Navy John Boyle, in which he discusses the scandalous Petticoat Affair of 1829-1831, is expected to coast to $1,200-$1,400;
Not all lots in the sale are president-related. Charles Lindbergh's grandfather's watch, ostensibly gifted to the pioneer aviator (and, remarkably, still working), maker unknown, has an estimate of $1,600-$1,800. Also, an aluminum combination spoon-and-fork, recovered from the site of the World War II P.O.W. camp dramatized in the film The Great Escape, should bring $800-$900.
For more information about University Archives and the Wednesday, January 17th auction, please visit www.universityarchives.com.