WILTON, Conn. – A 1777 battle letter signed by then-Continental Army Commander-in-Chief George Washington in New Jersey; a sword that was affixed to JFK’s catafalque guarding his coffin in the East Room of the White House; and an autograph letter signed by Albert Einstein in which he dispels competition to his Theory of Relativity are a few of the expected leaders in University Archives’ online-only 452-lot auction scheduled for Wednesday, November 2 at 11 am Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
George Washington’s boldly signed letter was written at Continental Army winter headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey on Feb. 20, 1777. Washington had recently achieved victories at the battles of Princeton and Trenton, and he reported to Brigadier General Alexander McDougall that he did “not apprehend you will be in any danger of an Attack in your quarter for some time yet, as the Enemy from their late Motions are drawing this way.” The letter has an estimate of $30,000-$40,000.
The Hilborn-Hamberger, Inc. ceremonial sword mounted on John F. Kennedy’s catafalque while it was displayed in the East Room of the White House in November and December 1963 carries an estimate of $28,000-$35,000. The sword, with its elaborately etched 31in blade, white shark skin and brass wire-wrapped grip, is a striking example of military craftsmanship and a poignant reminder of how Jackie Kennedy memorialized her slain husband.
Albert Einstein’s one-page autograph letter signed in German, dated April 7, 1926, addressed to colleague Hans Reichenbach, condemns scientific theories proposed as alternative explanations to his own Theory of Relativity. In the letter, which is estimated at $20,000-$30,000, Einstein rejected physicist Hermann Weyl’s claims that electricity and geometry could prove just as much as Einstein’s studies on gravitation and geometry, writing, “It’s incorrect to assume that ‘Geometrization’ is something fundamental,” scornfully dismissing it as “a donkey’s bridge.”
A Civil War-dated petition featuring both signatures of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson in their roles as president and vice president – rendering it rare because Johnson only served as VP for six weeks prior to Lincoln’s assassination – is estimated at $14,000-$18,000. The petition, submitted by Unionist residents of Montgomery County, Tennessee, urged Lincoln to extend amnesty to a Confederate Tennessee infantry soldier, James H. Acree, who was then imprisoned at Fort Delaware.
A handwritten contract on a lined legal pad, with an agreement between the Republic of Nicaragua and the American railroad and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt for transportation across the Isthmus of Nicaragua, is estimated at $10,000-$12,000. The 21-page contract is dated Nov. 6, 1858, one year after the Filibuster War, and written from New York. It’s signed “C. Vanderbilt” and was witnessed by his son-in-law, D.B. Allen.
A PSA/DNA certified autograph letter signed by Mahatma Gandhi (as “Bapu”), in which the Indian leader writes an encouraging message in Gujarati to his friend Dr. Balvantrai Kanuga on March 8, 1947 – just five months before India gained its long-awaited swaraj, or self-rule, and just 10 months before Gandhi was assassinated – has an estimate of $8,500-$9,500. Gandhi writes, in part, “Always sorrow and happiness chase us in a pair. We cannot separate them.”
The final highlight is a program guide from the 44th annual Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., dated July 31-Aug. 1, 1983, and signed on the cover by more than 50 present and future Hall of Famers, including Cal Ripken, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew. Its estimate is $5,000-$6,000.
Anyone who has a single item or a collection that may be a fit for a future University Archives auction may call John Reznikoff at 203-454-0111 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about University Archives, please visit www.universityarchives.com.
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