A massive auction of collectible works on paper and ephemeral items will be held at Alexander Historical Auctions on September 9 and 10. Online bidding has already opened, so there is no need to wait until the closing day to place your bids. This is an enormous auction, with 1,568 lots up for sale. Most pertain to personalities you will immediately recognize.
Where to begin describing this auction is an enormous challenge. How do you describe an auction with material from Mother Theresa and Adolph Hitler? Other than disproving the old adage that opposites attract, this infinite gap displays just how wide the selection of material there is to be found. There are other killers here, even if comparatively small – Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Mark Chapman, James Earl Ray, John Dillinger, the James Gang. If this is depressing, there are others who were equally heroic figures – Martin Luther King, John and Robert Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Rosa Parks, Neil Armstrong. Some will bring differing reactions depending on your own viewpoint, or mixed reactions, people we have trouble deciding whether we like – Douglas MacArthur, Ronald Reagan, William Clinton, Donald Trump, Charles Lindbergh, Eva Peron, Mikhail Gorbachev, George W. Bush. Some make us feel a bit creepy, even if they don't fall into the first rank of bad people – Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, James Hoffa, Spiro Agnew, James Buchanan, Lester Maddox.
Other people we find represented are not so much heroes and villains as they are celebrities. Sports brings us personalities such as Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Jim Thorpe, Arnold Palmer. From film come greats like Henry Fonda, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Groucho Marx, Bob Hope, Grace Kelly. Music offers Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Liberace, Louis Armstrong, Pete Seeger, Leonard Bernstein. Artists can be found, such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Marc Chagall. Naturally enough, some writers also make their way to paper, including Ernest Hemingway, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Peter Benchley, Eugene O'Neill, James Thurber, Ray Bradbury. From Science we find Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Watson and Crick, from politics a whole host of famous people, including Ulysses Grant, Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan, Golda Meir, Benito Mussolini, Anwar Sadat, Ho Chi Min, “Che” Guevara, Leonid Brezhnev, Emperor Hirohito.
We have only touched on the personalities represented in this sale. There are many more. Many items pertain more to events than specific people. There is all sorts of political propaganda. Some items pertain to the slave trade, and some offensive items pertaining to African-Americans whites once thought humorous are found. There is a great deal of material related to wars, America's Civil War and the Second World War in particular. The latter brings us items related to the allies and their heroic struggle against one of the greatest evils ever known to man. It also reveals items related to those who perpetrated such unspeakable evil. Hitler, Goring, Himmler and the like are to be found among the lots. As horrible as it is, this part of history must not be forgotten. Its horrors must be told, yet one cannot help but look at pictures and documents from these monsters and wonder how could such things ever be? It is a question we ask, but answers don't come easily.
Here are just a few of the items you will find in this huge auction.
Lot 165. An amazingly detailed map prepared for the Allies' D-Day landing in France in 1944. Not only does it map out the various beaches where the landings would occur, but provides detailed information about German guns, radar, fortifications, lookouts, and such along the stretch of coast. Alexander notes, “It is frankly amazing the amount of information that was gathered from locals and resistance members in order to prepare the map and annex.” Estimated $8,000 - $12,000.
Lot 167. D-Day bombing plans, the map shows “Omaha” and “Utah” beaches, along with German artillery locations, their firing range, and the Allies' planned targets. Estimated $4,000 - $6,000.
Lot 1. The awarding of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross to German Field Marshal Kesselring in 1939. The cross was personally presented to Kesselring by Hitler, who has signed this document. Kesselring led German air forces during the invasion of Poland that year, and Hitler was undoubtedly very pleased with the successful performance. The award was made the same day as German forces conducted a victory parade through the streets of Poland. Kesselring would be sentenced to death after the war for atrocities his troops committed in Italy, but this was later commuted and Kesselring freed. Estimated $30,000 - $40,000.
Lot 147. A signed photograph of Hitler, taken during a 1931 interview with a correspondent from the New York Evening Post. The future Fuhrer is shown from the waste up in profile view, wearing a dark business suit, his hands clasped together. It is chilling. Estimated $2,000 - $3,000.
Lot 440. The summer uniform and boots worn by U.S. General Robert C. Richardson, Jr., in Hawaii and likely at the Japanese surrender ceremonies in Tokyo on September 2, 1945. Richardson commanded U. S. forces in the Pacific. Estimated $2,000 - $3,000.
Lot 164. A collection of material from the estate of Gen. Richardson. It includes such items a certificate testifying to Gen. Richardson's presence at the formal surrender of Japan, photos of the surrender ceremony, the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, MacArthur with Hirohito, Tokyo Rose, along with a very rare card bearing an image of the Japanese naval flag, and Richardson's diary of events leading up to the surrender, which shows infighting among officers, including a claim by MacArthur that Eisenhower did not support the Army. Estimated $4,000 - $5,000.
Lot 347. Two general's stars, given by Gen. George Patton to Gen. Geoffrey Keyes. Gen. Keyes had served as Patton's chief of staff, and when he was promoted to Lieutenant General, Patton sent him two of his own silver stars. Estimated $3,000 - $4,000.
Lot 456. A hand-decorated jacket belonging to a flier from the 40th Bombardment Group, 315th Bomber Wing, Squadron 25 (S. Hamilton). The group flew supply missions over the “Hump,” part of the Himalaya Mountains. Hamilton has sewn on various patches representing bases where he was stationed, and various other events and logos. One has an image of a tailgunner saying “Hi.” That was likely Hamilton's position. Estimated $2,500 - $3,500.
Lot 494. A Luftwaffe helmet, captured by a black soldier in Normandie. Sgt. Strong's race is revealed by the notations he has painted on the helmet, including his membership in the 333rd Field Artillery Group, a black unit. Strong has painted the names of several locales where they fought along with allied insignias. Estimated $1,500 - $2,000.
Lot 220. A Vichy France poster, captioned (in French), “With de Gaulle there, you will get nothing, ladies and gentlemen.” A leaky boat bearing the name “Rule Britannia” is seen approaching a Vichy French battleship and brave French sailor. On the boat Churchill extends a fishing line to the French sailor, with the lure being an image of de Gaulle. Next to Churchill sits a stereotypical Jew with a bag of money, adding some anti-Semitism to the poster for good measure. Estimated $300 - $400.
Lot 1357. A one-of-a-kind hand-painted poster promoting the Beatles' appearance in Australia in 1964. It is believed to be the only existing poster of any kind, hand-painted or printed, from the band's only tour of Australia. They appeared in four cities, with this poster specifically promoting their June 12th appearance in Adelaide. Estimated $4,000 - $6,000.
Lot 1439. A collection of signatures (separate) of the four stars of what may still be the funniest TV series ever produced – the Honeymooners. It aired as a separate series for only one season – 1955-56, though it was a recurring skit on Jackie Gleason's show. The signatures are that of Gleason, and co-stars Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph. It includes a picture of the four leaning out of Ralph Kramden's (Gleason) bus. Estimated $100-$150.
Lot 1024. A photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy as you've never seen her. She is dressed in a riding outfit and is being thrown, head first, over a fence by the horse she was riding. One guesses the horse did not care to jump. She was photographed by her photographer, Marshall Hawkins, whose timing was perfect, perhaps because he was waiting to take a shot of her jump. Estimated $1,000 - $1,500.
Lot 1040. A collection of Lincoln assassination relics, matted for display. There is a reward poster, a picture of Lincoln, a picture of the hanging, a chip of wood from the gallows, and three strands of Lincoln's hair. Estimated $300 - $400.
You will find a complete catalogue of Alexander Historical Auctions' Summer 2014 Auction at the following link: auctions.alexautographs.com/asp/searchresults.asp?st=U
A tab near the top right of the page (“Register to Bid”) takes you to instructions on how to place a bid.