Written Word owner Dan Rowe is a stickler for provenance, but an important lot in the auction might be considered politically incorrect. Lyndon B. Johnson’s pencil sketch of Bobby Kennedy, drawn on U.S. Senate stationery, depicts an unflattering image of RFK with shark-like teeth and scrawny legs. A known doodler, Johnson likely drew the caricature during the 1960 presidential campaign before Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy won the election and named his brother U.S. Attorney General.
Vice President Johnson became president after JFK was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963. Robert Kennedy later resigned as attorney general to run for the U.S. Senate.
“It shows the contemptuous relationship they had,” said Rowe. Bobby privately referred to the vice president as “Uncle Cornpone,” while Johnson called Kennedy “that boy with the rickety legs,” notes Rowe in the auction catalog.
Michael J. Kirwan, a U.S. representative from Ohio from 1937 to 1970, saved the unsigned sketch along with similar ephemera from Capitol Hill, said Rowe. The sketch has a $5,000-$8,000 estimate.
Another LBJ sketch saved by Kirwan depicts a three-eyed octopus holding a lighted cigarette. On Congress of the United States stationery, the crudely drawn doodle has a $750-$1,200 estimate.
Rowe said the most difficult presidential autographs to acquire are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.
“Kennedy is tough because he had secretaries signing for him,” said Rowe.
Each of three different “Kennedy for President” fliers autographed by JFK has a $1,200-$2,000 estimate.
An 1861 military appointment signed by President Lincoln is extraordinary in that the appointee, Richard Caswell Gatlin, a West Point graduate and career soldier, soon resigned his commission and offered his services to the Confederacy.
“It’s extremely rare because Gatlin became a general in the Confederate Army,” said Rowe.
The vellum appointment, 16 1/4 inches by 10 1/4 inches, is also signed by Secretary of War Simon Cameron. The document has a $9,500-$12,000 estimate.
George Washington’s autograph, clipped from the conclusion of a signed letter and mounted on a 4 1/2-in by 3-inch card, has a $3,500-$5,000 estimate.
A small lock of Washington’s hair is estimated to sell for $1,800-$2,500.
“It’s quite rare, particularly with the provenance this one has,” said Rowe, noting the lock of hair comes with documentation that traces ownership to Eleanor Parke Custis, the granddaughter of Martha Washington by her first marriage. The lock was authenticated by Charles Hamilton, a renowned autograph dealer, in 1992.
“If it didn’t have (Hamilton’s) provenance,” I wouldn’t have touched it,” said Rowe.
Dwight D. Eisenhower autographed baseballs are rare according to Rowe, and the one in his auction Sept. 18 carries a $6,000-$9,000 estimate.
“Presidents traditionally throw out the first pitch on opening day and it must have been one of those,” he said. The Official American League ball bears the name of Joe Cronin, who served as American League president from 1959-1973, an indication that Ike signed it late in his presidency.
More sports and entertainment autographs are concentrated in the second day of the auction. Included are album pages autographed by New York Yankees greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, each of which carries a $2,500-$3,800 estimate. A 1931 typed letter signed by tight-fisted Chicago White Sox owner Charles A. Comisky to a scout seeking employment has a $2,000-$3,500 estimate. An official 2000 World Series baseball signed by members of the champion New York Yankees is expected to top $2,000. Notable signatures include Series MVP Derek Jeter and manager Joe Torre, who signed on the sweet spot.
Among the Hollywood A-list names in the auction is Jayne Mansfield, who autographed a black and white enlargement of herself to a fan. The actress-night club entertainer died in an automobile accident at the age of 34 in 1967. The signed photo has a $500-$800 estimate.
The Saturday session, consisting of 572 lots, will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern. Sunday’s session, 456 lots, will begin at noon Eastern.
For details visit www.thewrittenwordautographs.com or call Rowe at 603-323-7563.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE