WESTPORT, Conn. – A superb John Hancock signed manuscript from 1783 in remarkable condition, plus items pertaining to other signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, U.S. presidents, Napoleon and other foreign leaders as well as actor Bruce Lee will be in University Archives’ online-only auction slated for Wednesday, Sept. 26. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Live bidding will begin at 10:30 am Eastern Time. In all, 288 lots will be offered in a sale packed with rare and highly collectible autographed documents, manuscripts, books and relics.
“As we enter the new auction season we’re very proud of our current offering, most of which has never been on the market before or not in a long time,” said John Reznikoff, president and owner of University Archives. “We’re very happy with our range of material. Where else can one buy a book signed by Jefferson, a Napoleon at war letter, a Malcolm X letter on a postcard and a Bruce Lee signed certificate? We service an international clientele, with bidders in over 50 countries.”
The signed Hancock manuscript, with an estimate of $4,000-$5,000, is a superb document, one in which Hancock, during Revolutionary War times, signs with a bold version of one of the most recognizable and famous signatures in history. Reznikoff observed, “This is exactly how Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence. He wanted to make sure King George III would not miss his imprint.”
Another famous Declaration signer, Thomas Jefferson, is represented with a book from his personal library written by Maximilien de Bethune, which Jefferson recommended for historical and legal reading and one he personally signed (est. $16,000-$18,000); and a Congressional Act signed by Jefferson and dated Aug. 10, 1790, authorizing Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton to finish construction on a lighthouse project in Maine (est. $12,000-$14,000).
George Washington didn’t sign the Declaration, but he’s still hugely popular with collectors. A Rhode Island lighthouse keeper’s provisional contract from 1790, signed by Washington and William Ellery (who did sign the Declaration), should hit $12,000-$14,000; while a handwritten letter to Ellery from the ever-popular Alexander Hamilton regarding duties and tariffs, while Hamilton was the Secretary of the Treasury and negotiating the Compromise of 1790, should make $5,000-$5,500.
Abraham Lincoln is represented with six lots, including a letter handwritten by Martin L. Bishop to his friend and esteemed legal counsel dated Nov. 16, 1858, in which Lincoln replies with his handwritten advice on the third and final page regarding Bishop’s patent ownership and pending lawsuits. The letter is estimated to sell for $8,000-$10,000.
Collectors can never get enough of JFK and Marilyn Monroe. This auction features two original first-generation glossy photos from Kennedy’s after-party bash at the Krim residence, hours after Monroe sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to him at Madison Square Garden. One shows Diahann Carroll singing at a piano, with various guests looking on, including Monroe (est. $800-$900); the other shows JFK talking to singer Maria Callas and Adlai Stevenson (est. $3,000-$3,500).
A rare letter written by Kennedy in May 1944 to his friend from Harvard, Richard Flood, while both were still in the Navy and months after the destruction of JFK’s boat the PT109, in which Kennedy makes an anti-Semitic remark, has an estimate of $8,000-$9,000.
Fans of Bruce Lee will have several lots to consider, including a superb and highly ornate printed document dated Jan. 30, 1968, signed by Lee and promoting his close friend Herb Jackson to the First Rank of the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute; and a rare photo of Lee, signed and with a personal inscription to Herb Jackson, “To a dear friend of the family, Herb, Peace, Love, Brotherhood, Bruce,” with a Chinese character below his name. Both lots have estimates of $20,000-$24,000.
A letter written and signed by “Malcolm X” on the message side of a picture postcard of New York City, dated Oct. 22, 1958 and addressed to Gloria Owens in Cleveland Ohio, in which he says, “Happy you were able to hear The Messenger” (meaning Elijah Muhammad) is expected to finish at $3,500-$4,000.
University Archives was founded in 1979 as a division of University Stamp Co. by John Reznikoff, who started collecting stamps and coins in 1968 while in the third grade. Reznikoff is a leading authenticity expert for manuscripts and documents. He consults with law enforcement, dealers, auction houses and both major authentication companies.