WESTPORT, Conn. – Items pertaining to George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Albert Einstein, JFK, George Patton, Abraham Lincoln and dozens of other luminaries throughout world history and popular culture can be purchased in time for holiday delivery during University Archives’ Internet-only auction already up and online. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers. Live bidding will begin Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time.
As with all University Archives auctions, this one is packed with rare and highly collectible autographed documents, manuscripts, books, photos and relics.
“If payment is prompt, bidders can receive a truly unique gift item delivered in time for the holidays,” said John Reznikoff, the president and owner of University Archives. “This is our largest auction to date, in terms of value, and there are many rarities to be had. Who wouldn’t like to own a large and powerful bust of Napoleon or a two-page letter hand-signed by him?”
The Napoleon lots are expected to do well in the international arena, where University Archives has been gaining a strong foothold in recent auctions. “We’re enjoying continued strength as the leader in Americana, with a rapidly expanding offering of foreign personages, which often sell to our international clientele,” Reznikoff said. “We have registered bidders in over 50 countries.”
The two-page letter, written in French in a clerical hand and signed by Napoleon (as “Napol” at the top of the second page, verso), was penned in Germany on March 29, 1807. The letter (above) is addressed to Napoleon’s Minister of War, Henri Jacques Guillaume Clarke, chastising the Prince of Isenburg for disobeying orders and calling him “ridiculous.” It should sell for $2,000-$2,400.
The Napoleon bust after an 1885 model by Italian sculptor Renzo Colombo (1856-1885) is 21¾ inches tall and is in excellent condition, with the original patina. It depicts the French emperor as dignified and serious, with firmly set brow and intense eyes. Colombo executed numerous casts of Napoleon, and this example stands as one of his finest. It carries an estimate of $3,000-$4,000.
A 1909 metal casting of an 1860 “life mask” of Abraham Lincoln by Leonard Wells Volk (American, 1828-1895), with the casting executed by Caproni Casts in Boston, should reach $7,000-$8,000.
A letter written in 1782 by George Washington, as commander in chief of the Continental Army, to New York Gov. George Clinton, expressing outrage over Native American and loyalist attacks on the New York frontier, four pages, signed, is expected to finish at $18,000-$20,000.
A single-page letter written and signed by Thomas Jefferson as president, dated Oct. 29, 1803, in which he invites the French Ambassador Louis-Andre Pichon to dinner, right after completion of the Louisiana Purchase, has an estimate of $9,000-$10,000; while a one-page letter written and signed by Alexander Hamilton on Jan. 31, 1799, to George W. Kirkland of Philadelphia, in which he supports Kirkland’s idea of Army recruiting at Tioga Point, should hit $5,000-$7,000.
A scarce engraving on rice paper of the Declaration of Independence (below), printed in 1848 by Peter Force, boasting remarkably exact renditions of the signers’ hands and perhaps one of as few as 500 copies issued, should command $6,000-$7,000; while a bi-fold manuscript document from 1779 signed by George Taylor (1716-1781), among the rarest of the Declaration signers since he only served for seven months in the Continental Congress, has an estimate of $18,000-$20,000.
A letter from 1947 written in German and signed by Albert Einstein, expressing appreciation for the 75th birthday present from a Mrs. Damann that prompted him to recall and sketch a childhood dexterity game called “Pigs into the Sty,” should reach $12,000-$14,000. Also, a letter penned extensively on all four sides by Charles Darwin, dated Feb. 9, 1861, in which he reflects on social and religious adversity while revising Origin of the Species, should rise to $6,000-$7,000.
An unframed 8-by-10-inch photograph of Babe Ruth, signed by the Bambino himself (“to my pal, Cyril, Sincerely, Babe Ruth”), depicting Ruth in street clothes, with a cigar in one hand, with a letter of authenticity from PSA/DNA, should breeze to $4,500-$5,000. Also, a huge black and white photo of Muhammed Ali, shown glowering over Sonny Liston, signed by Ali using a blue Sharpie and double matted in a 35-by-29½-inch frame, has an estimate of $800-$1,000.
A copy of the book Poems (New York, 1844) by Clement C. Moore, author of the classic Christmas poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (“Twas the Night Before Christmas … ”), inscribed by Moore to Janet Drake de Kay, should garner $6,000-$8,000; while a partially printed document from 1793, signed by the poet (and legendary drinker) Robert Burns, in which he signs a permit to grab a cask of rum, is expected to gavel for $4,000-$5,000.