On Tuesday, November 1, Swann Auction Galleries will hold a sale of Autographs, with an emphasis on American political signatures in a nod to the upcoming presidential election.
A Civil War-era album in the sale, originally signed by dozens of important political and military figures of the period, also contains an astounding page signed by fourteen U.S. presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and both Roosevelts. Additional presidential signatures—Bill Clinton, Andrew Johnson and Barack Obama—are on a following spread (Grant signed elsewhere). Other notable signers of the album include P.T. Barnum, Charles Sumner, Schuyler Colfax and George Armstrong Custer. The album was discovered in the 1950s and subsequently maintained by Manuscript Society president Herbert Klingelhofer (1915-2015). Spanning 1864 to 2010, this album is estimated to sell for $60,000 to $90,000.
Further American political autographs include a Document Signed by Benjamin Franklin, 1785, ordering Treasurer David Rittenhouse to pay £15,000 to the Trustees of the General Loan Office ($5,000 to $7,500); a Clipped Signature by Abraham Lincoln, likely removed from a check and mounted to the edge of an Autograph Letter Signed by his son, Robert Todd Lincoln, 1878 ($4,000 to $6,000); several Partly-printed Documents Signed by George Washington, including the 1783 military discharge of Edward Keyser ($7,000 to $10,000). Three Typed Letters Signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt concerning Henry R. Luce, other publishers and personal topics between 1940 and 1944 ($3,500 to $5,000) are also in the sale, as well as a 1791 Congressional Printed Document Signed by Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, representing the first act in which Vermont is referred to as a state ($10,000 to $15,000). No sale of autographs would be complete without examples of the most famous ‘John Hancock’ of all: John Hancock’s iconic signature is on a 1781 Document Signed appointing a Joseph Fisk as Surgeon of the First Regiment of Foot ($3,500 to $5,000).
Signatures by foreign rulers include a Letter Signed from Empress Catherine the Great in 1766, congratulating the Crown Princess of Courland on her marriage ($3,000 to $4,000), and a Letter Signed from Napoleon Bonaparte expressing concern that General Miollio’s troops might not receive sufficient nourishment, 1797 ($4,000 to $6,000).
Artists, both literary and visual, abound. An Autograph Letter Signed from Claude Monet to his friend Gustave Geffroy in 1891 inviting the latter to visit the artist in his garden in Giverny is expected to fetch $6,000 to $9,000. Ephemera from Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, includes an Autograph Manuscript Signed for the title page for Appendix to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, circa 1889 ($5,000 to $7,500). Also available is John Ruskin’s personalized album of cards sent to him on the occasion of his 64th birthday in 1883; over eighty people wrote to Ruskin, including Walter Sickert and Oscar Wilde. Ruskin Birthday Book is expected to sell between $10,000 and $15,000.
Nineteenth and twentieth century scientists are well represented, especially Albert Einstein. Of special note is Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist by Paul Arthur Schilpp and signed by the illustrious subject in 1949 is expected to sell for $3,500 to $5,000. A Photograph Signed by Neil Armstrong in his space suit is expected to fetch $1,000 to $2,000.
Fans of classical music will be pleased by a healthy selection of autographs, many on sheet music. An Autograph Musical Quotation by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Signed, dated and accompanied by two bars from his Prelude in C sharp minor (1919) is guided at $3,000 to $4,000. Further selections include an undated Autograph Note Signed from musician Robert Schumann to August Schmidt, introducing a fellow musician visiting from Amsterdam ($2,000 to $3,000), as well as an 1849-69 signed quotation by Louis Moreau Gottschalk on treble and bass clefs ($1,500 to $2,500). Further musicians include Arnold Schönberg, Igor Stravinsky and Guiseppe Verdi.
Also available is a Poster Signed by each member of The Beatles, with an inclusion by Ringo Starr over the shortest inkblot with his height, “5’7”, estimated to sell for $4,000 to $6,000.
The auction will be held Tuesday, November 1, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Friday, October 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, October 29 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, October 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, November 1 from 10 a.m. to noon.
An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.
For further information or to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Swann Autographs Specialist Marco Tomaschett at 212-254-4710, extension 12 or email@example.com.
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Swann Auction Galleries
P: 212-254-4710 ext. 19