TIMONIUM, Md. – For nearly 60 years John R. Elliott assembled a private library of books, artwork, photographs and memorabilia associated with World War II – “The Last Good War.” 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. The collection will be sold Thursday, Sept. 17, in an online auction conducted by Over & Above Online Auction and Estate Sales. 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 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, the D-Day 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.
His dedication to learning all that could be learned about the war led him to meet 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, and “Band of Brothers” leader Maj. Dick Winters.
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 twice fly in a restored B-17.
He proudly served in the U.S. 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.
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 in Dayton, Ohio, and secured the only memento of the day signed by the plane’s entire crew.
Enthusiast, historian and avid patriot, the library of John R. Elliott truly exemplifies his life.
This auction will take place at the gallery of Richard Opfer Auctioneering. The auction will begin at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.
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