Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2015 Issue

Profiles in History: An Important Sale of Autograph Material and Other Items

Inherently unique and collectible, autograph letters and documents represent a special segment of the rare books, maps, manuscripts, and ephemera world. One auction house has built their business around such material, and this month, on June 11th, Profiles in History brings another sale of valuable material to auction.  The Los Angeles county-based house’s Historical Auction 75 contains 200 lots of autographs and assorted objects and items, with a large number of famous Americans and other historical figures present in the sale.

For collectors of American Presidents, the autographs of the first three are for sale, as well as many others including Lincoln, FDR, and JFK. The XYZ Affair that nearly brought war between the United States and France is represented particularly well with letters from both John Adams and George Washington discussing the matter (lots 1 and 147).

Continuing with American History, two items related to the Star Spangled Banner are quite interesting. I myself did not know that the national anthem is not an original tune—that its words are actually set to the music of another, John Stafford Smith’s “The Anacreontic Song,” was a surprise to me. In this sale however, both the original printing for “The Anacreontic Song” (lot 136, est. $15,000 – 25,000) and an early (third printing) of “The Star Spangled Banner” are available (lot 137, est. $40,000 – 60,000).

Other highlights of the sale include:

  • Eighteen lots of Einstein autographs
  • A plethora of material from the Civil War, including signatures from all of the senior Confederate leadership and generals: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
  • A small, but strong showing of contemporary sports material including Michael Jordan’s first six basketball cards all graded Gem Mint 10 including his rookie card (lot 195, est. $20,000 – 30,000) and a signed photograph of Babe Ruth (lot 200, est. $4,000 – 6,000). 

Like Profiles in History’s past Historical Auctions, the binding theme of the material is an emphasis on rare autographs from well-known figures, as well as other rare memorabilia and objects. Their sales are not organized thematically, so if you are a collector of autograph material, their catalogues are worth perusing since you never know what you may find.

The auction will take place on-site in Calabasas, CA on June 11th at 11 a.m. Registration is available on Profiles in History's website here. Online bidding is handled by Invaluable and the entire catalogue is viewable on their website.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions