Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2015 Issue

Profiles in History: An Important Sale of Autograph Material and Other Items

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Inherently unique and collectible, autograph letters and documents represent a special segment of the rare books, maps, manuscripts, and ephemera world. One auction house has built their business around such material, and this month, on June 11th, Profiles in History brings another sale of valuable material to auction.  The Los Angeles county-based house’s Historical Auction 75 contains 200 lots of autographs and assorted objects and items, with a large number of famous Americans and other historical figures present in the sale.

For collectors of American Presidents, the autographs of the first three are for sale, as well as many others including Lincoln, FDR, and JFK. The XYZ Affair that nearly brought war between the United States and France is represented particularly well with letters from both John Adams and George Washington discussing the matter (lots 1 and 147).

Continuing with American History, two items related to the Star Spangled Banner are quite interesting. I myself did not know that the national anthem is not an original tune—that its words are actually set to the music of another, John Stafford Smith’s “The Anacreontic Song,” was a surprise to me. In this sale however, both the original printing for “The Anacreontic Song” (lot 136, est. $15,000 – 25,000) and an early (third printing) of “The Star Spangled Banner” are available (lot 137, est. $40,000 – 60,000).

Other highlights of the sale include:

  • Eighteen lots of Einstein autographs
  • A plethora of material from the Civil War, including signatures from all of the senior Confederate leadership and generals: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
  • A small, but strong showing of contemporary sports material including Michael Jordan’s first six basketball cards all graded Gem Mint 10 including his rookie card (lot 195, est. $20,000 – 30,000) and a signed photograph of Babe Ruth (lot 200, est. $4,000 – 6,000). 

Like Profiles in History’s past Historical Auctions, the binding theme of the material is an emphasis on rare autographs from well-known figures, as well as other rare memorabilia and objects. Their sales are not organized thematically, so if you are a collector of autograph material, their catalogues are worth perusing since you never know what you may find.

The auction will take place on-site in Calabasas, CA on June 11th at 11 a.m. Registration is available on Profiles in History's website here. Online bidding is handled by Invaluable and the entire catalogue is viewable on their website.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.

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