Reagan, Lincoln and Atomic Age items lead the charge at University Archives Jan. 10

Ronald Reagan's 'Win one for the Gipper' commencement speech for the University of Notre Dame Class of 1981, which sold for $50,000 ($64,000 with buyer’s premium) at University Archives.

WILTON, Conn. – Three hand-written documents by President Ronald Reagan, a lock of President Abraham Lincoln’s hair taken by his embalmer post-mortem, and signed models of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the crews of those missions were all top performers at University Archives January 10. Complete results are available at LiveAuctioneers.

Reagan’s White House secretary Helene von Damm (b. 1938-) continues to empty her collection of hand-written and -annotated Reagan artifacts and send them to auction. Reagan’s “Win One for the Gipper” speech from 1981 hammered for an astounding $50,000 ($64,000 with buyer’s premium) against estimates of $15,000-$24,000. His “Welcome Home” speech delivered to returned State Department employees held hostage in Iran brought $20,000 ($25,600 with buyer’s premium), nearly doubling the high estimate. And a draft of letters to Frank Sinatra and financier Felix G. Rohatyn also nearly doubled its top estimate, hammering for $11,000 ($14,080 with buyer’s premium).

This lock of President Abraham Lincoln’s hair, collected after his death by his embalmer Harry Pratt Cattell, along with Lincoln’s clipped signature, were placed in a red velvet case specially designed for the artifacts. Included is an 1869 letter from Cattell establishing the authenticity of the hair. Estimated at $10,000-$15,000, the lot hammered for $25,000 ($32,000 with buyer’s premium).

Two scale models of the atomic bombs dropped on Imperial Japan to end the fighting in the Pacific Theater during World War II both sold well above estimate. Each model was autographed by the crew of each aircraft. Fat Man, the bomb dropped by the Army Air Force B-29 Superfortress Bockscar on Nagasaki, sold for $5,000 ($6,400 with buyer’s premium). Little Boy was the name for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the USAAF’s B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay. Its signed scale model doubled its high estimate, hammering for $3,000 ($3,840 with buyer’s premium).

RMS Titanic artifacts are exceedingly rare due to the difficulty of reaching the final resting place of the ruined vessel. This scale model of the ill-fated ocean liner is accompanied by a lump of coal retrieved from the site of the wreck, along with three signatures of the youngest Titanic survivor, Millvina Dean (1912-2009). Just nine weeks old, Dean was lowered into Lifeboat 10 and sailed into history. The complete lot brought $2,200 ($2,816 with buyer’s premium) against a modest estimate of just $500-$600.

Reagan’s ‘Gipper’ speech with handwritten notes targets the end zone at University Archives Jan. 10

WILTON, Conn. – A draft of Ronald Reagan’s iconic 1981 Win One for the Gipper speech, with extensive handwritten notes, is one of the compelling lots in University Archives‘ online-only auction on Wednesday, January 10. The complete catalog is now open for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

“We’re ushering in the New Year with an exciting auction featuring exceptional and desirable material from the U.S. Presidential, Science, Music, Literature & Military collecting categories,” said John Reznikoff, president and owner of University Archives.

President Reagan’s Win One for the Gipper speech, featuring eight pages of handwritten notes and additional manuscript revisions to typed pages, was delivered as the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame on May 17, 1981, just weeks after he survived an assassination attempt by Jodie Foster-obsessed John Hinckley, Jr. In 1940, Reagan had portrayed George Gipp, Notre Dame’s beloved All American football player, in Knute Rockne, All American, where he uttered the immortal line on his character’s deathbed. Impeccable provenance is assured, as this item comes from the files of Helene von Damm (b. 1938-) Reagan’s longtime personal secretary. The draft carries an estimate of $15,000-$24,000.

Also up for bid is a mixed typed and handwritten draft of Reagan’s Welcome Home speech, signed by Reagan as ‘RR’ and annotated with nearly 350 words in his hand. Reagan delivered the final draft of the speech in January 1981 at the White House, one week after Iran released 55 American hostages kidnapped from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 after the fall of the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The draft is estimated at $10,000-$12,000.

A Revolutionary War-dated letter from 1780 signed by George Washington regarding a prisoner exchange illustrates a compassionate side of his military decision-making. Washington gives instructions to Col. James Wood, commander of the Convention Army, concerning the release of two German officers attached to British Gen. John Burgoyne, who had surrendered at the Battle of Saratoga three years earlier. The lot’s estimate is $18,000-$20,000.

A lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair with his clipped signature as ‘A. Lincoln,’ displayed in a custom red velvet case, is an unusual item in the sale. The relic comes with rock-solid provenance from several former custodians, including Henry Pratt Cattell, who embalmed Lincoln’s body, and Justus Chollar, an official who guarded Lincoln’s body during the autopsy and embalming. The display carries a $10,000-$15,000 estimate.

A miniature engraving of John Quincy Adams, boldly signed by him at top, is probably one of the earliest examples of a signed presidential image. The portrait comes with an early gilt frame with a Detroit backstamp, and an enameled portrait pin of a woman greatly resembling Adams’s mother, Abigail. The engraving is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.