Portrait of Washington heads University Archives’ sale Oct. 31


Rare 1785 hand-colored mezzotint portrait engraving of George Washington. Estimate: $3,000-$4,000. University Archives image

WESTPORT, Conn. – A rare, 1785 hand-colored portrait engraving of George Washington, printed for and sold by the London publisher Carington Bowles (British, 1724-1793), will be a featured lot in University Archives’ next online-only auction, slated for Wednesday, Oct. 31. The auction will begin at 10:30 am Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

As with all University Archives auctions, this one is loaded with rare and highly collectible autographed documents, manuscripts, books, photos and relics. will also be accepted.

Major categories in the sale include JFK and many other U.S. presidents, and scientific items (Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Marie Curie). Additional highlight lots will include Bob Dylan’s handwritten and signed lyrics to The Times They Are A-Changin’; John F. Kennedy’s personally owned rosary; and a letter written by then-Gen. George Washington, dated Feb. 26, 1780.

“We’re always strong in Americana, with the presidents and the Revolution and Civil War, but this sale also has strong foreign consignments, too,” said John Reznikoff, the president and owner of University Archives. “We have many British Monarch items that are tastefully framed and were originally purchased from notable autograph dealer Kenneth Rendell. On top of that I note a very unusual WWII period huge Hirohito document which includes a decorative award that is quite a piece of art. Also, a rare Czarina Catherine (the Great) signed document and a handful of others.”

The Washington portrait (above) – an exquisite framed mezzotint measuring 12¾ inches by 9¾ inches – has an international pedigree. It was engraved from a painting by Jean-Baptiste Le Paon (French, 1738-1785), with elements of Charles Wilson Peale (American, 1741-1827) and Noel Le Mire (French, 1724-1793). And of course, it’s of a U.S. president, shown in a full-length portrait, with a servant tending his horse, plus historic documents (est. $3,000-$4,000).

With a presale estimate of $50,000-$60,000, Dylan’s handwritten signed lyrics to the iconic The Times They Are A-Changin’, penned on an 8-by-10-inch sheet, could end up as the sale’s top lot. The lyrics and signature were authenticated by Dylan’s manager. The bi-fold letter written and signed by George Washington in 1780 is addressed to Nathaniel Greene, the noted Rev-War general. In it he addresses ongoing concerns about supplies for the troops (est. $15,000-$17,000).


Bob Dylan handwritten and signed lyrics. Estimate: $50,000-$60,000. University Archives image

JFK’s personally owned rosary had been previously gifted, via donation, by Kennedy’s mother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, in 1974, to Sister Fabiola Parent of the Sinsinawa (Wisconsin.) Dominican Sisters and curator and founder of the Sinsinawa Rosary Museum (est. $20,000-$24,000). Also, a copy of the special edition of LIFE magazine from 1961, for the inauguration of JFK, one of only three known copies that were signed by Kennedy, carries an estimate of $4,000-$5,000.


John F. Kennedy’s personally owned rosary beads. Estimate: $20,000-$24,000. University Archives image

A two-page letter handwritten and signed by the evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin (British, 1809-1882), dated “Jan 31”, should gavel for $6,000-$7,000. The letter is to Darwin’s lawyer, Thomas Salt, and is in regard to the family home in Shrewsbury. Also, items pertaining to Orville Wright – a check dated Aug. 11, 1917, and signed by the aviation pioneer, an original part from his plane and a print of the Wright Brothers’ first flight – is expected to soar to $3,000-$4,000.

A large, Japanese World War II-era document, in which Emperor Hirohito of Japan confers the Imperial Order of Meiji upon Eiichi Yamamoto, with the Star of the Order of the Sacred Treasure, signed in Japanese and dated April 18, 1940, should bring $4,000-$4,500.


Japanese World War II-era document, Emperor Hirohito of Japan confers the Imperial Order of Meiji upon Eiichi Yamamoto. Estimate: $4,000-$4,500. University Archives image

An outstanding studio portrait of Wild West showman “Buffalo Bill” Cody in full Western costume, with a hat and rifle, signed by him and with a charming inscription, should garner $3,500-$3,750.


Studio portrait Buffalo Bill Cody. Estimate: $3,500-$3,750. University Archives image

With the baseball postseason in full swing, what fan wouldn’t appreciate a miniature Adirondack bat signed by some of the game’s all-time greats? These include Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Joe Torre, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Ted Williams, Whitey Ford, Tony Perez, Bob Gibson, Roberto Clemente, State Musial and Pete Rose (est. $3,000-$4,000).