Ongoing thru April 11: Impressive autograph material at One of a Kind Collectibles

- by Thomas C. McKinney

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Highlights mentioned in the auction preview

As of the release of this month’s issue of Rare Book Monthly, One of a Kind Collectibles’ online auction of Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Books & Photographs is already accepting bids and closes on April 11th. Autograph material is a particularly strong suit and make up a large part of the sale’s standout lots. Starting minimum bids are very low, but much of the best material has already received bids.

American Presidents are well represented, with autograph material from Washington, Lincoln and seventeen other Presidents included. Lot 3 is a letter, written as Commander in Chief and sent to Governor George Clinton in July 1782, in which Washington expresses his outrage over continued Native American loyalist attacks on the New York frontier during the Revolutionary War and laments his inability to provide much in the way of direct aid. Evidently unique, the item’s bidding began at $1,000 and sits at $8,650 as of the writing of this preview.

Two items from President Lincoln have also already received bidders’ attention. Lot 2 is a military commission signed by him as President in 1861 (and Secretary of War Simon Cameron), being the Commission of David Houston to First Lieutenant in the Corp of Engineers. With a starting bid of $500, the document has received no less than seventeen bids so far, bringing it to $3,925. The first lot in the sale, also from Lincoln and dating to just before the Civil War, is a note to the Secretary of the Navy requesting him “see Mr. Williams, who can give some informa[tion] about the defense [of] Charleston.” The item has 1 bid (the minimum) of $1,000.

Few songs are as well-known in the U.S. as “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” also known as “America,” and fewer still are opportunities to own a handwritten and signed copy of it by the song’s author, American journalist and author Samuel Francis Smith. All four stanzas are included in the framed document. Bidding for lot 7 began at $200 and is currently at $825. And while I’m on the subject of music, there are several other lots of note:

  • An autograph letter signed by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in which he professes his “love of local musical affairs” in explaining his intervention on behalf of the Leipzig town orchestra in a dispute over its member compensation. Current bid is $725.
  • Handwritten and autographed lyrics by Woody Guthrie to the song “Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done.” Current bid is $425.
  • A signed photo of Louis Armstrong. No current bid, starting at $100.
  • A rare early Elvis Presley autograph, together with an original unpublished polaroid picture of the King. Current bid $250.

The breadth of the autograph material on offer in One of a Kind Collectibles’ current sale is quite impressive. Whether your particular interest is political, military, music, entertainment, space exploration, or sports, there is interesting material here for you. One of a Kind’s online catalog also provides easy to use topics for quick and easy sorting. You can see the catalog here. Official bidding ends at 8PM EST on April 11th, with an extended bidding period beginning immediately after. In order to participate in extended/final bidding, you must have placed a bid before 8PM EST. The full rules for the auction are available here.