CHICAGO – A collection of letters by notorious American gangster Al Capone achieved exceptional prices in Hindman’s Fine Books & Manuscripts auction, which took place November 8 and 9. Books and manuscripts authored and signed by presidents and world leaders from the Patrick Atkinson collection also saw significant attention, with new auction records set for books signed by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. The total sale nearly doubled its estimate, and realized more than $1.2 million, representing one of Hindman’s most successful various-owner Books & Manuscripts auctions in recent years.
A group of three Al Capone letters saw incredibly competitive bidding, with two of the letters selling in the top five lots of the auction.
Highlighting the group was a letter written by Capone two days after the January 1925 assassination attempt on his life, which soared past its $10,000-$15,000 estimate to realize $53,125. Another handwritten letter from Capone, written from Cicero in 1924, more than tripled its presale estimate to sell for $43,750. In this powerful letter, Capone writes urgently to Bill asking him to “find that bootlegger … tell him I want him to come right away to Chicago,” and noting that he “[has] a big order for him.”
Manuscripts in the hand of criminals were not the only noteworthy sales of the day, as bidders also clamored for books and manuscripts by presidents and peacemakers from the Patrick Atkinson collection of signed books and manuscripts. The Atkinson collection achieved nearly double its estimate, with particularly impressive prices achieved for books written by renowned world leaders.
A 1958 first edition, first printing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Stride Toward Freedom. The Montgomery Story set a new world auction record for a book signed by King, achieving $50,000 against an estimate of $8,000-$12,000.
A first edition of Gandhi’s Young India, 1919-1922 sold for $37,500 against a $4,000-$6,000 estimate, which set an auction record for a book signed by Gandhi.
Highlights from the collection also included a 1785 letter from George Washington to his land agent, which more than doubled its estimate to achieve $18,750. Also, an album including more than 140 signatures and inscriptions from major Civil War era figures, including Abraham Lincoln, earned $13,750 against an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
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