BOSTON – RR Auction‘s September Fine Autographs and Artifacts sale boasts more than 900 items, with a special focus on Hollywood, classical music and icons of history. View the fully illustrated catalog on LiveAuctioneers.
Among the Hollywood treasures on offer are items relating to horror movies, including an 11-letter archive from Edward Van Sloan, the actor whose roles in Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy have earned him immortal status in the canon of horror cinema. In the archive, Van Sloan comments on Eisenhower, Beethoven and Dracula: “It was gosh awful thirty-five years ago — what it must be like today! I think nothing dates faster than a motion picture.” Material from Van Sloan remains exceedingly rare across all signed and handwritten formats. The letter archive is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.
Certain to provoke bids is a Tod Browning letter that he signed in the year he directed Freaks. The one-page letter of recommendation is rendered on personal letterhead and dated November 26, 1932. As with Van Sloan, Browning remains rare across all signed formats, with this being just the third item handled by RR Auction and the first letter it has offered from the influential filmmaker. Its estimate is $2,000-$4,000.
Another horror film-related standout is a letter by Ed Wood on his unfinished pet project, Hell Born. He wrote the one-page letter on personal letterhead on September 30, 1958, addressing it to Marge Usher. It reads in part: “I will personally do what I can, in any way, to enhance the production of this film.” It has an estimate of $2,000-$4,000.
The cult horror icon Rondo Hatton is represented by a letter spanning three pages and written circa 1945. In it, he comments on an upcoming role: “I’m working in a new movie, ‘Murder Mansion,’ hence, kept plenty busy.” Hatton’s autograph is virtually nonexistent in any form; this letter is the first that RR has offered in nearly 10 years. It is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.
Rounding out the horror film-related highlight lots is an original floral still life painting by the great horror director James Whale. The consignor notes that Whale gave this painting to actress Mae Clark, who starred as Elizabeth Lavenza in Frankenstein. Given the artwork’s date of 1956, this is likely one of the last, if not the last, paintings Whale finished before his death the following year. It is estimated at $2,000-$4,000.
Perhaps even stronger than the horror material is a selection of autographs from three great composers: Frederic Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Joseph Haydn. The Chopin appears in the context of a signed musical quotation: some time in or around 1838, he penned the complete piano score of the Polish song Wiosna, paroles de Witwicki, op. posth. 74 nr. 2 in G minor. This composition was originally written as Andantino for one singing voice with piano accompaniment. The Chopin document carries an estimate of $100,000-$150,000.
The Beethoven lot is a letter to Franz Christian Kirchhoffer concerning the sending of the Missa Solemnis to London. He wrote the one-page letter in German circa September 1823, and it is estimated at $80,000-$100,000.
The Franz Joseph Haydn-signed document is a pristine publishing contract for Haydn’s magnificent final oratorio, The Seasons. Dated July 21, 1801, it is an outstandingly rare document from the prominent composer at the close of his distinguished career. Its estimate is $60,000-$80,000.
The Fine Autograph and Artifacts auction by RR Auction began on August 12 and will conclude on September 14. For more information, go to www.rrauction.com.
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