WILTON, Conn. – An eclectic sale featuring items signed by historical luminaries as diverse as theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, France’s King Louis VII and Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, by University Archives. The online-only Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia auction will begin at 11 am Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Leading the offerings is a typed letter signed by Einstein explaining his monumental scientific formula, E = mc2. The formula, which Einstein articulated after conducting research into the theory of relativity, ultimately led to the development of nuclear weapons, an unintended catastrophic result of his research. The typed Einstein letter carries an estimate of $45,000-$60,000, and is one of five Einstein lots in the auction. Another is Einstein’s one-page autograph manuscript in German, mentioning the “General Theory of Relativity” and the “theory of gravity,” part of his reconciliation of Unified Field Theory.
Another standout is an elegant manuscript document in Latin signed by the French monarch Louis VII at Senlis in 1177, with an interesting connection to the Crusades. The document, granting property rights, was signed by two future French Crusaders: Raoul I, Count of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis, and Theobald V, Count of Blois, both killed during the Siege of Acre. The centuries-old document is estimated at $24,000-$35,000.
Lot 105 is an autograph album signed by three then-current and future U.S. presidents – Lincoln, Grant, and Garfield – plus approximately 140 additional signatures of mostly Civil War-era military personnel, politicians, and other notables. The album, with 1896 newspaper article provenance giving an eyewitness account of Lincoln’s signing his autograph in Washington, D.C. in 1862, was compiled by a Civil War veteran from Peoria, Illinois. It is estimated at $16,000-$20,000.
An item relating to Founder Paul Revere is on offer as well. It concerns the purchase of four chaldrons (more than five net tons) of coal to fuel his metal-working furnaces in 1787 – the same year the U.S. Constitution was signed. Revere signed the receipt issued by a Boston merchant and included a nine-word endorsement in his hand. Air-tight provenance is provided from Paul Revere’s great-great-grandson. The Revere piece has an estimate of $15,000-$20,000.
Sports memorabilia choices include a spectacular baseball signed by 26 members of the 1975 New York Yankees team, including a superb example of the signature of Thurman Munson, who not long afterward died in a crash of the plane he was piloting. All the signatures are rendered in ballpoint ink. The ball, estimated at $1,000-$1,200, was issued with an auction JSA auction letter of authenticity in 2016.
Equally compelling is a colorful Walt Disney signed Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad and monorail pass issued to New York City transit authority director Sidney H. Bingham circa 1959, granting him free access to the railway for five years as an honorary Vice-President. The Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad was inaugurated at Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 1955, while the monorail, considered the latest in cutting edge technology, was installed there four years later. The pass carries an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.
Also featured is a huge and fascinating archive documenting U.S. criminal history during a 50-year-long period, from 1875-1929. Items are from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and other law enforcement agencies, and include newspaper clippings, photographs, Rogues Gallery illustrated portraits, wanted posters and broadsheets. The majority of the clippings relate to Pinkerton activities in Chicago, but information on foiled Lincoln assassination plots, Jesse James, Billy the Kid and Diamond Jim Fisk’s murderer is also included in the lot, which is estimated at $7,500-$9,500.
Rounding out the highlights is a scarce period carte de visite image depicting the 17th U.S. President, Andrew Johnson, signed and inscribed by him as “Andrew Johnson / Jany 23d 1869” on the verso. The sepia-toned albumen photograph is mounted on a stock card, is encapsulated and PSA/DNA certified authentic, and is estimated at $3,000-$4,000.
Anyone who has a single item or a collection that may be a fit for a future University Archives auction may call John Reznikoff at 203-454-0111, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about University Archives, please visit www.universityarchives.com.
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