TAMWORTH, N.H. (ACNI) – A virtual who’s who of great Americans will be represented in Written Word Autographs’ online auction June 27-28. From a signed document recording the purchase of a load of grain by George Washington to an official White House photo autographed by Ronald Reagan and his entire cabinet, the auction is loaded with letters, images and autographs of famous Americans. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding.
“It’s a particularly strong auction with good content across the board in what we cover,” said Dan Rowe, owner of Written Word Autographs. Rowe has been an autograph collector for about 50 years and a dealer since 1995. With more than 1,000 lots, this sale represents a major collection.
One of the outstanding lots in the sale is a small handwritten document recording George Washington’s purchase of an order of corn and wheat a year before he became the first president of the United States.
“It’s an absolutely pristine example of his handwriting,” said Rowe, noting it was written in March 1788 when Washington was a private citizen focusing on running a farm. “It was a kind of a window between the time he was a general and when he became president,” said Rowe. Framed with an engraving of Washington, the signed page is estimated to sell for $18,000-$25,000.
A letter written by Gen. Robert E. Lee commenting on the promotion of a fellow Confederate officer to the rank of major general in July 1862 has an estimate of $9,500-$18,000. “It’s an interesting letter because of the military content,” said Rowe. A second Lee letter in the sale is a thank-you “for your kind invitation to myself and family to partake of the hospitalities of the Exchange Hotel when we visit Richmond.” The general wrote the letter in November 1863, five months after his defeat at Gettysburg. The one-page letter is estimated at $7,000-$14,000.
An appointment document signed by President Abraham Lincoln and counter-signed by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton has an estimate of $9,500-$11,000. The partially printed vellum document measures 14 by 18 1/2 inches and appointed Charles Kingsbury as Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers. It has an estimate of $9,500-$11,000.
A letter written in December 1868 by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to the Rev. Joseph Hopkins Twichell announces the writer’s engagement to Olivia “Livy” Langdon. “It has wonderful content and is written to his best friend,” said Rowe. Following a courtship conducted largely through correspondence, said Rowe, Clemens and Langdon married in 1870. Clemens’ letter carries a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.
The color photograph of President Ronald Reagan and his cabinet was taken on Feb. 4, 1981 at their first cabinet meting. Participants included Vice President George H.W. Bush, Attorney General William French Smith, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, Secretary of State Alexander Haig and William Casey, director of the CIA. The 11-by-14-inch photographs has a $5,000-$8,000 estimate.
The auction also includes a presidential appointment that recalls the most perilous time of the Cold War. Signed by President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk in November 1961, the appointment names John Alexander McCone as director of the CIA. “McCone was widely credited with being the first government official to foresee that the Soviet Union would place offensive weapons on Cuba, a move that set off the Cuban missile crisis in 1962,” wrote Rowe in the auction catalog. McCone replaced Allan Dulles, whom Kennedy privately blamed for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Archivally matted and framed, the document has a $6,000-$15,000 estimate. The lot contains two color photographs of JFK and McCone at his swearing-in ceremony.
From famous Americans the auction turns to the infamous in the form of a handwritten and autographed manuscript by William A. Shaw, recounting his actions as a member of the John Dillinger gang. He wrote the account in 1960 while in prison. Shaw was the leader of the White Cap Gang in Indianapolis during the early 1930s. He was 19 years old when he met John Dillinger on June 4, 1933 and they committed their first robbery together that evening, noted Rowe. Shaw was already in prison when FBI agents gunned down Dillinger as he walked out of the Biograph Theater in Chicago in July 1934. Included in this collection are two original photographs of Shaw being interviewed at the John Dillinger Historical Museum in Nashville, Ind. The lot has a $5,000-$8,000 estimate.
For additional information on any lot in the sale, call 603-323-7563. View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to be absentee or live via the Internet through www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE