Schulson Autographs recently published their Catalog 156. Offered is a selection primarily of manuscript material rather than simply signed documents. There are many letters, some personal, others pertaining more to business matters. A few are drawings that have been signed, both by people known for their artistic skills and by those who were not. These pieces give us an interesting look at the lives of the famous people who put their name to paper. Here are a few of them.
When we mention the name Marx, we could only be speaking of.... Groucho, of course! Groucho was more of a capitalist than the other Marx, and definitely a lot funner. In this circa 1930s typed and signed letter, a lonely Groucho writes to his mother and children saying that the best way to cheer up when he's down is to write them a letter. He mentions that he visited his doctor - “He gave me three hours of talk about the love life of his patients...he spends so much time listening to himself talk, that he has hardly any time for his patients and frequently makes very rapid and I imagine, inaccurate diagnoses...” Oh well. Today Groucho would be lucky to get three minutes, let alone three hours of his doctor's time. Interestingly, the popular celebrity says, “I”ll take the home and family life, I am afraid the carefree bachelor is a little too much for one of my sedentary disposition...” Marx dealt with that problem three times through marriage. He then speaks more positively of hopes for a new show before closing with, “From your lonesome and loving Groucho.” Priced at $1,875.
Judy Garland tried even harder than Groucho to avoid the lonely bachelor(ette) lifestyle. She married five times. Despite her enormous success at the box office, her personal life was never so good. Sidney Luft was number three and they were together for 11 years before separating in 1963. This undated letter evidently comes from some of the best days of the marriage. Garland writes to Luft, “Thank you for giving your family such a lovely Easter. Your love surrounded each of us and made us feel warm and wanted and secure. God bless your big fat heart. I really adore you.” Two of Garland's three children were with Luft. $1,200.
John James Audubon is noted most for his beautiful illustrations for his Birds of America, but he also had a second quite popular presentation of The Quadrupeds of North America. The success of the smaller, more affordable octavo edition of Birds encouraged Audubon to move forward with his book on quadrupeds. Offered is an agreement between Audubon and John T. Bowen to produce lithographs for his book on quadrupeds. Dated February 23, 1844, Audubon agreed to pay Bowen $750 when the stones were delivered. $3,800.
At the beginning of 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald would probably have been happy to get anything published anywhere. By 1921, he was a successful young author, living the “Jazz Age” high life, money coming in, going out even faster. No matter, he and young bride Zelda were living the best days of their lives. That year, Fitzgerald received a request for some poetry for a new magazine. Oliver Jenkins, of Danvers, Massachusetts, was about to start a new poetry magazine – Tempo – and was hoping he could get a contribution from the now popular young author. Such was not to be. Fitzgerald politely replied, “Your magazine sounds interesting but I'm afraid my muse is gone. I haven't written a line of poetry for two years...” Fitzgerald would write poetry again, though he is far better known for his novels and short stories. Fitzgerald was later in contact with Jenkins again after the latter published a note about his short story collection, The Jazz Age, in Tempo, and sent him a copy of his book This Side of Paradise. However, there is no sign that he ever contributed a poem to the magazine. Tempo did not have a long life, surviving for two years but probably not much longer. $7,200.
Louis Philippe was the last King of France. He acceded to the throne in 1830, an extremely popular, liberal King, a man who had years earlier sided with the Revolution and was forced to live as a poor commoner during years in exile. However, by 1848, he was seen as an autocratic ruler and forced to resign and flee the country. Somewhere in between, 1836 to be exact, he wrote this letter to his cousin. Translated from the French, he notes, “You have always shown great kindness and interest in everything that concerns me and I would never question the sincerity of your words. Please be sure I return the sentiment...” $350.