Curated Estates to sell Steinbeck personal memorabilia Feb. 27

Forty-three photos of John Steinbeck on an archeological dig in 1959 along with a card signed by him. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000. Curated Estates Auctions image

LINCOLN PARK, N.J. (AP) – The Steinbeck Collection, an upcoming sale at a New Jersey auction house, might as well be called “Travels with Elaine.” Curated Estates in Lincoln Park is offering a trove of materials on Feb. 27 that has been sitting in a Manhattan warehouse for about two decades. They include dozens of letters that John Steinbeck’s wife, Elaine, wrote home from their world travels. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Steinbeck, author of The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden among other works, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature, died in 1968. Elaine Steinbeck, his third wife, died in 2003. She was an actress and Broadway stage manager, and a prodigious writer of letters home.

Black and white photo of John and Elaine Steinbeck in Torre del Lago Puccini, Italy, Oct. 9, 1954. Inscribed on verso in pencil by Elaine Steinbeck: ‘The only pic without his mustache!’ Estimate: $400-$600. Curated Estates Auctions image

There are dozens of long missives in her careful hand, describing the couple’s trips to Africa and Spain in 1952, to Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize in 1962, and to the White House in 1964 to stay with Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. She reports that her husband had been called in to work on LBJ’s acceptance speech for the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. “But that is confidential,” she writes. “That is something you just don’t talk about.”

Signed Parviz Aminzadeh watercolor given to John Steinbeck by the artist in Israel on Dec. 14, 1963. Estimate: $200-$400. Curated Estates Auctions image

The sale also includes intriguing odds and ends from the lives of both Steinbecks: the Presidential Medal of Freedom that Johnson awarded him, a small medallion she received from Richard Rodgers for her work on Oklahoma, a hummingbird made of colorful thread wrapped around a stick. Steinbeck said he got the hummingbird from a witch doctor, and wrote that it holds “just about all the magic there is in the world.” There’s also a lock of his baby hair.


By WARREN LEVINSON, Associated Press

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AP-WF-01-29-20 1714GMT