LONDON – Leading the Autographs and Manuscripts sale at Chiswick Auctions on October 10 was a promotional photograph of The Beatles. Not only was it signed in blue and red ballpoint inks by all four members of the band, it was additionally inscribed by Ringo (Geoff, Best wishes from the Beatles) and George (To Geoff, Best wishes). The signatures were obtained for the vendor by his brother, who, in 1964, worked as an assistant director on A Hard Day’s Night at Twickenham Studios. He includes his recollections of his meetings with the Fab Four, including after-hours phone calls from Paul McCartney to discuss the progress of the movie. Estimated at £5,000-£7,000, it made a cool £18,000 or $21,900 (£22,500 or $27,300 including buyer’s premium).
There was also strong competition for a possibly unique pair of portrait photographs of the young Edward VIII. It was thought they were once owned by the English socialite Freda Dudley Ward, who had a long affair with the then-Prince of Wales.
The photographs, signed by the Bassano studio of London with photographer’s pencil marks along the margins, show the prince in mirror-like head and shoulders profile poses. Each image is signed and dated E.1919 on the front and David, Aug 1919 on the verso. They were consigned by a vendor whose grandmother was Freda Dudley Ward’s personal maid in the 1920s. Offered together with a full-length photograph of Freda Dudley Ward (1894-1983) holding her two Yorkshire terriers with an estimate of £1,000-£1,500, they took £8,500 or $10,300 (£10,625 or $12,900 with buyer’s premium).
Although she married Dudley Ward in 1913, Freda had a relationship with Edward from 1918 until 1929. She was supplanted in his affections, first by Thelma Furness (1904-70) and then by Wallis Simpson.
A collection of correspondence penned by giants of the 20th century to an Oxford academic raised more than £20,000 ($24,300) for charity. The 22 letters from people including Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Charles De Gaulle and Chiang Kai-shek were recently given by the family of Sir William David Ross (1877-1971) to an Oxfam store in west London.
Ross, a Scottish philosopher, translator and civil servant was provost of Oriel College, Oxford from 1929-47, and vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1941-44. Sitting on many governmental committees, his address book included many members of the great and the good of 20th-century society.
One of two letters to Ross from Albert Einstein was written (in German) from Cromer in Norfolk on October 1, 1933. At the time, Einstein and his wife Elsa, who had fled from Germany when Hitler came to power, was receiving brief refuge in the U.K. before moving to the U.S. on October 17, 1933. Concerned for the well-being of a colleague, he wrote: “Professor Zangger at the University of Zurich, asked me to make you aware of Prof. Stenzel in Kiel, who lost his position. He researches the history of science in ancient Greece and he is not in the position to contact you from Germany. The question is if there is a possibility to invite this gentleman to England or America as a guest lecturer.” Einstein suggests Ross contact Zangger directly “especially as I will be soon travelling to America (Princeton)”. Professor Julius Stenzel, a classical philologist and philosopher, was a member of a disciplinary committee that had expelled some Nazi students from the university in 1930. In 1933, he was transferred to the University of Halle, where he died two years later.
The letter sold at the top estimate of £6,000 or $7,300 (£7,500 or $9,100 with buyer’s premium).