WILTON, Conn. – An autograph album from 1862 containing the signature of Abraham Lincoln and 226 members of his administration and Congress; a manuscript penned by Sir Isaac Newton with mathematical notes and calculations relating to Book III of his iconic scientific work Principia; and a one-page typed letter from 1919 signed by Vladimir Lenin as Chairman of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Defense Council are a few expected star lots in University Archives’ online-only auction of autographs, manuscripts, artwork and comic art slated for May 26. The auction, featuring 411 lots, will start at 10:30 am Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Leading lots include an autograph album compiled by Pennsylvania Congressman William M. Davis that contains 226 signatures of Lincoln administration officials and members of the 37th U.S. Congress, including President Abraham Lincoln himself as well as seven of his eight cabinet members: Hamlin, Seward, Chase, Bates, Welles, Cameron, and Smith. It also boasts the autographs of about 217 statesmen, including the future president, Andrew Johnson, and is estimated at $12,000-$14,000.
Sir Isaac Newton’s handwritten notes and calculations, scrawled on both sides of a small scrap of paper, are expected to achieve $100,000-$150,000. The notes speculate about the exact position of stars and comets and would be formalized in Book III of Newton’s monumental work, Principia. The last similar Newton autograph manuscript related to Principia came on the market in October 1999 and was auctioned for over $230,000.
Also featured is a typed letter signed by Vladimir Lenin as Chairman of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Defense Council during the Russian Civil War, estimated at $30,000-$40,000. It was addressed to a future victim of Stalinist purges, the People’s Commissariat Artemic B. Khalatov. The letter, dated Dec. 19, 1919, is in Russian and typed in the Cyrillic alphabet. Lenin wishes Khalatov a speedy recovery and swift return to work. Ironically, Lenin’s successor, Josef Stalin, later ordered Khalatov’s execution.
The auction lineup contains three items relating to Albert Einstein. These include a three-page scientific manuscript pertaining to his Unified Field Theory from the 1940s and includes the line, “I want to try to show that a truly natural choice for field equations exists.” It carries an estimate of $60,000-$70,000. Another notable Einstein lot is a black and white photo of the scientist, taken in 1955 by photographer Yousuf Karsh, who said the image reveals the “brief moment when all there is in a man’s mind and soul and spirit may be reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude.” The photo is signed by Einstein as “A. Einstein 55” in the year that he died.
A carte de visite of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, signed by him and taken around 1864 in the studios of Vannerson & Jones of Richmond, Virginia, with Lee dressed in his Confederate greys, is estimated at $4,000-$5,000. In addition, a collection of Civil War views by the famed photographer Alexander Gardner, including battlefield shots of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, is estimated at $2,000-$2,400.
An Act of Congress signed in type by George Washington as President and John Adams as Vice President on May 8, 1794, permanently establishing the U.S. Postal Service and making robbing the mails a crime punishable by death, has an estimate of $8,000-$9,000. Other lots relating to American presidents include John F. Kennedy’s 8 by 10in black and white photo of himself, signed and dedicated to Mayor Philip Goodman of Baltimore (“For Mayor Philip Goodman – with warm regards and esteem / John Kennedy”), which is estimated at $3,000-$3,500; and Harry S. Truman’s hand-corrected and signed copy of a 21-page typed article exploring the presidential experience, written five years after leaving the White House, which carries an estimate of $3,500-$4,000.
Lastly, a highly detailed original graphite drawing by Maurice Sendak of “Pleasant Fieldmouse”, a near final matted drawing of the frontis for Jan Wahl’s book Pleasant Fieldmouse (1964), which Sendak fully illustrated, is estimated at $2,000-$2,400.
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