Over & Above to auction WWII private library in September

WWII private library

Dwight D. Eisenhower, ‘Crusade in Europe,’ first edition after the printing of a limited edition of 1,426 numbered copies, bookplate signed by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, on his stationery, affixed using photo corners; also signed by Gen. Omar N. Bradley and Gen. Lucius D. Clay. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Over and Above image


TIMONIUM, Md. – For nearly 60 years John R. Elliott assembled a private library of books, artwork, photographs and memorabilia associated with World War II. Throughout these decades he amassed a library of more than 2,000 books, dozens of signed lithographs and photographs, trench art, relics, virtually every classic movie on the subject, glassware and giveaways, and more items into what is one of the most comprehensive, if not the most comprehensive, collection of information on the war ever held in a private collection. Over & Above Online Auction and Estate Sales LLC will auction Elliott’s library Thursday, March 19. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

More than half of his books have been signed by the heroes from the war, and frequently by others as well. Many were published in very limited editions and some are mementos from reunions.

His special interests included the famed B-17 bomber, the U.S. Army Air Corps, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, D-Day and the invasion of Normandy, the war in the European theater, submariners and their ships – all of which are chronicled in his library. Though he held the Nazis and Japanese invaders in at least minimal disdain, the library also includes medals, armbands, Nazi and Kamikaze flags, some books and artwork, and even coasters and champagne glasses once owned by Nazi Gen. Herman Goering which were found at Hitler’s Eagles Nest estate.

WWII private library

Two aviation books about Gen. Jimmy Doolittle: ‘I Could Never Be So Lucky Again: An Autobiography by Gen. James H. ‘Jimmy’ Doolittle’ with Carroll V. Glines, signed by the author and J.H. Doolittle, retains letter to Doolittle asking for signatures; and Jonna Doolittle Hoppes’ ‘Calculated Risk – The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle – Aviation Pioneer and World War II Hero,’ 2005, title page signed by the author; retains email correspondence between collector and author. Estimate: $100-$150. Over and Above image

His dedication to learning all that could be learned about the war led him to meeting many of these heroes, calling them on the telephone and such things as personally arranging a book signing for Medal of Honor recipient Adm. Eugene Fluckey with whom he became fast friends. He was proud to have reached former President Dwight D. Eisenhower at Camp David where he was greeted by the President asking him “How did you get this number?” He spoke to such heroes as Gen. Omar Bradley who signed the book about his life, and the book about President Eisenhower as well. Other heroes with whom he spoke, and who signed his books, include Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, Gen. Chuck Yaeger, Gen. Paul Tibbetts, Ensign George Gay, Adm. Edwin (Ned) Beach, “Band of Brothers” leader Maj. Dick Winters and many others.

WWII private library

Tom Freeman Navy ship watercolor, 1986, artist signed, professionally framed, image 20½ x 28½. Estimate: $300-$500. Over and Above image

Many of the books in the library also contain his letters to these heroes, their responses, information from his research on the heroes or the battles, and even his own critique of the books themselves. He read each of the books at least once, with dozens more being read multiple times.

Elliott volunteered more than 1,000 hours as a carpenter for the restoration of the Liberty Ship John W. Brown, which is moored in Baltimore, and among his greatest joys was being able to fly in a restored B-17, not once, but twice.

WWII private library

Flying Tigers signatures on blood chit replicas, silkscreened on silk fabric, signed by17 AVG (First American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force. Estimate: $50-$100. Over and Above image

He proudly served in the US Air Force, though never in any sort of combat, where he met one of his closest friends who lived across the country from him.  It was with this friend that he made a pilgrimage to Europe in 2001 where these two men literally traced the path of the brave men and women who fought in the D-Day invasion. John himself “landed” at each of the beaches at Normandy where he collected pebbles and small bottles of sand from all from these hallowed locations.

He met Gen. Tibbets and the entire crew of the restored B-17 Shoo Shoo Baby in Delaware at the plane’s rededication before its last flight to Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

WWII private library

World War Shoo-Shoo Baby signed Ken Fry print signed by Chuck Bochert, Robert Lankford, Ed Gallagher, George Bogart, Jim Shoesmith, Larry Sylvester, Swede Sodenburg, Charles Bramon and Jack Lowden. Estimate: $50-$100. Over and Above image

Elliott’s love of flying began during the war at just 5 or 6 years of age when he constructed his own “airplane” using sawhorses and leftover lumber in his backyard as the war began. He became intrigued with the Allies’ pursuit of freedom when his father was sent to California by his employer Glenn L. Martin and thus began his study of the war’s history; ending that study only in the final year of his life.

This auction will take place at the gallery of Richard Opfer Auctioneering – 1919 Greenspring Drive, Timonium, MD  21093. The 471-lot auction will begin at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time on March 19.