Rare Autographs, Manuscripts and Books – August 17, 2022

Aug 2, 2022

University Archives is excited to announce the launch of its late summer sale, Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books, which will be held online on August 17, 2022. At 537 lots, this sale is our largest ever, trumping the previous company record-holder, our 534-lot January 6, 2022 auction. The upcoming sale boasts a spectacular variety of items representing the best of U.S. Presidential, Early American, and Civil War/Western collecting categories. As always, we also have unique and superb offerings in Music, Entertainment, Sports, Space, Art, Literature, and more.

U.S. Presidents

Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, JFK, and Obama are just a few of the presidents represented in the August sale. Lot 100, an engraving of “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet,” after Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s original oil on canvas, is displayed above the assembled signatures of all eight figures depicted: Abraham Lincoln, William H. Seward, Edwin M. Stanton, Gideon Welles, Salmon P. Chase, Caleb B. Smith, Edward Bates, and Montgomery Blair. A truly handsome piece important to the history of Civil Rights in America, accompanied by PSA/DNA Letters of Authenticity, and already assembled!

Lot 81 is a possibly unique combination of items, both slabbed by Beckett Authentication Services, which relate to John F. Kennedy’s political aspirations in the late 1950s. Kennedy signed a personal check reimbursing travel expenses and enclosed it along with its original typed letter signed in the spring of 1956. Kennedy, then a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts,  was wooing fellow senators in his bid to win the upcoming Democratic Vice-Presidential nomination; Kennedy lost to Estes Kefauver, but the attempt garnered him significant national attention.

George Washington boldly signed a document appointing an Irish immigrant named Thomas Lowry as the first United States Marshal of New Jersey, following the passage of the 1789 law creating the law enforcement agency, on January 28, 1794. Lowry had been a Continental Congressional delegate and an officer in the New Jersey militia during the Revolutionary War, and through him, the document is even related to Washington’s celebrated nighttime crossing of the Delaware.

Early American

The history of American settlement, from the “Mayflower” through the Early Federal period, is well-represented. Benjamin Franklin engrossed and signed a receipt in 1756 for his “Pennsylvania Gazette,” the Philadelphia newspaper he had established in the late 1720s. Franklin collaborated with a Scottish printer named David Hall for eighteen years, during which the “Pennsylvania Gazette” became politically aligned with the Patriot cause.

Lot 259 is a promissory note inscribed with over 25 words and signed by Benedict Arnold in 1771, four years before the Revolutionary War and nine years before his defection to the British. The receipt was for building supplies, boards and “parcell staves,” and was probably penned in New Haven, Connecticut, where Arnold had lived since the early 1760s as a prosperous merchant.

Daniel Boone signed an enormous pay receipt sometime during his service as a delegate of the Virginia General Assembly, ca. 1781-1791. The manuscript document highlights one of Boone’s often overlooked roles as legislator. In 1781, during Boone’s first term as delegate representing Fayette County, now in modern day Kentucky but then part of Virginia, Boone was kidnapped by British cavalrymen seeking Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson and others in Charlottesville, where the Assembly had fled in advance of British troops.

Civil War/Western

Autograph letters signed, historical documents, cartes de visites, prints, and relics related to some of the biggest names in Civil War leadership and Western expansion will be offered at our August sale. Lot 369 has an interesting connection to the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn, in that both its author, George A. Custer, and its recipient, George W. Yates, were both 7th Cavalry officers killed there. Custer’s lengthy autograph letter signed was written at Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory on June 11, 1871. In it, Custer advised Yates to acquire good cavalry mounts: well-bred Kentucky horses at reasonable prices. The letter is ex-Forrest Fenn, Butterfields Auctions, and the Estate of George W. Yates.

Jefferson Davis, exiled in Canada in April 1868, wrote an autograph letter signed to fellow Confederate John Taylor Wood about his ongoing federal prosecution case (not to be resolved until Grant’s Christmas Day amnesty of that year), and about the economic distress of black freedmen that he had witnessed during a recent trip to the Deep South. Davis wrote in part: “The negroes have to a great extent become vagrant and the common complaint was that neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving. The poor creatures are however much to be pitied for their destitution and we who knew their utter inability to govern themselves may well question whether they or those who forced them into their present condition are most responsible for the crimes they commit…”

Lot 381 is a 2pp autograph letter signed by Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson addressed to a correspondent named Truheart that we speculate attended the 1859 execution of failed insurrectionist John Brown in addition to Jackson, who wrote about the hanging to his wife. The letter concerning a lecture on hypnotism was written in 1852 when Jackson was teaching natural philosophy and artillery tactics at the Virginia Military Institute, seven years before the Harpers Ferry uprising.

Other premier auction items include a Babe Ruth signed first edition copy of “The Babe Ruth Story,” a pair of beautifully framed Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio signed checks, and a Bob Dylan signed LP of “Blonde on Blonde” accompanied by a Jeff Rosen Certificate of Authenticity. These are just a few of the remarkable and significant items that will cross the auction block at our August sale. We hope you can join us!

Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books – June 22, 2022

Jun 6, 2022

University Archives is excited to announce its next online-only sale, Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books, which will take place on June 22, 2022. The 475+ lot sale is particularly rich in Presidential, Science, Civil War, Art & Music autographs and memorabilia. Collectors of Aviation/Space, Sports, Early American, Literature, and International will also have ample opportunity to enrich and expand existing collections!


University Archives has the reputation of purveying some of the best autographed presidential material in the autograph collecting industry. Roughly 1/3 of our June sale is dedicated to outstanding presidential material, ranging from George Washington to Joe Biden. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Truman are especially well-represented.

George Washington boldly free franked a Revolutionary War dated cover destined for Rhode Island Governor Nicholas Cooke in March 1775, just three months after crossing the Delaware River to surprise British and Hessian forces at the Christmas-time Battle of Trenton. Thomas Jefferson penned an autograph letter signed on June 29, 1811 which includes an additional bonus signature in the text; the letter discussed Jefferson’s plans to pay off Monticello construction debts to his friend, Polish-born American Patriot Thaddeus Kosciusko.

Jefferson’s signed dinner invitation as President in December 1805, ex-collector Max Thorek, is accompanied by a Jefferson-owned Chinese Export rare oval serving bowl, ex-Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Jefferson’s great-grandson. The serving bowl features a “J” monogram and Early Republican imagery, such as the 13 stars. Last, President Abraham Lincoln signed a Civil War dated military appointment promoting John G. Barnard as Lieutenant Colonel of the Corps of Engineers. Barnard and his invaluable fellow engineers ensured the safe water crossing of Union troops, in addition to planning siege tactics to best sap Confederate defenses.


Our vibrant Science collecting category contains items related to Albert Einstein, Thomas A. Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Carl Sagan, James Watson, Werner Von Braun, and others. We are thrilled to have five Einstein autographed lots, including an autograph letter signed, two typed letters signed, and two signed books.

In Einstein’s ALS dated ca. 1934, Einstein explains that he must limit his charitable giving to those made poor through “All of this Hitler-insanity, which has completely ruined the lives of all those around me.” Around one year later, in 1935, Einstein signed a first edition copy of his German language book “Mein Weltbild,” or “The World As I See It”; in the book’s signed dedicatory inscription, Einstein refers to the “Fall of the German Goyim.” This is the only instance we have ever seen where Einstein employed the Hebrew / Yiddish word for “non-Jew.” Einstein’s use of this word becomes even more interesting when one considers that the word has since been coopted by Anti-Semitic white supremacists who use it to propagate Jewish conspiracy theories.

Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer, two fathers of the Atomic Age, both signed a birthday diary under the headings of their respective birthdays, March 14th and April 22nd. In a typed letter signed dated April 29, 1954, Einstein explained the origins of his scientific motto, translated as: “Subtle is the Lord, but not malicious.” The motto encapsulates Einstein’s personal attitude towards God and spirituality, and also science, specifically his Theory of Relativity, since Einstein first employed the motto when responding to another scientist’s claims to have disproved relativity by discovering “ether-drift.” The motto is so inextricably connected with Einstein that it was even carved in the fireplace mantel at Jones Hall (formerly Fine Hall) at Princeton University, where Einstein worked.


Two show-stopping Civil War archives are the featured militaria items of our June sale: Lots 324 and 325 collectively represent all of the Union and Confederate generals identified in Ezra J. Warner’s “Generals in Blue” and “Generals in Gray,” plus additional ones of comparable importance since added to the rolls by today’s historians. The Confederate generals archive is comprised of 528 items, from Charles W. Adams to Felix K. Zollicoffer. Featured generals include Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Pierre G.T. Beauregard, James Longstreet, Wade Hampton, and others. Material in this archive also relates to Confederate prisoners of war.

The Union generals archive consists of 630 items, from John Joseph Abercrombie to Samuel K. Zook, including exceptional items autographed by U.S. Grant, Melancton Wade and Abraham Lincoln, George Meade, James A. Garfield, and Winfield Scott Hancock. Both archives have been meticulously researched, organized, and presented in display binders.

These are just a few of the remarkable items in our upcoming June sale, Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, and Books. We hope you can join us!

–John Reznikoff

Rare Books, Autographs, Manuscripts & Photos – May 4, 2022

Apr 16, 2022

University Archives is excited to announce its upcoming sale, Rare Books, Autographs, Manuscripts & Photos, on May 4, 2022. The 410+ lot sale will feature an impressive array of rare books, letters, documents, photos, ephemera, and relics. Highlights from the Presidential, Science, Music, Literature, Civil Rights, Notorious, and International / World Leaders collecting categories will draw significant interest. We hope you can join us!

Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Photographs, and Books!

Mar 11, 2022

University Archives is pleased to announce its upcoming sale, Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Photographs, and Books, on March 30, 2022. Presidential, Science, Technology, Aviation, Space, Sports, and World Leaders are among our leading categories, though novice and veteran collectors alike will also appreciate the outstanding cross-section of Early American, Civil War, Literature, Art, Music, Entertainment, Business, and Civil Rights material. There is something for everyone in our March sale. Exceptional historical items range from manuscripts, letters, documents, and rare books, to photographs, relics, artwork, and even military mementoes.

The March 30th auction index is as follows: American Politics / Supreme Court: Lots 1 – 24; American Presidents / First Ladies: Lots 25 – 132; Art: Lots 133 – 148; Aviation / Space: Lots 149 – 177; Business / Notables / Notorious: Lots 178 – 208; Civil Rights / Native American / Slavery: Lots 209 – 219; Colonial / Declaration of Independence / Revolutionary War: Lots 220 – 253; Entertainment / Music / Sports: Lots 254 – 296; History / Military: Lots 297 – 348; International / World Leaders: Lots 349 – 386; Literature: Lots 387 – 400; Old West: Lots 401 – 404; Science: Lots 405 – 418.


Our March sale showcases over 100 items relating to U.S. Presidents, from John Adams to Joe Biden. One of the highlights is a John Adams signed document dated January 27, 1801 promoting an artillery engineer. This military document features an unusually large Adams signature measuring nearly 3” x 1.” Adams had recently been defeated by Thomas Jefferson during the “Revolution of 1800.” John F. Kennedy signed a document on September 20, 1962 appointing Henry DeWolf Smyth, author of the Manhattan Project’s official history, the Smyth Report, to serve as an alternative U.S. delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency conference. As ambassador, Smyth later promoted the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Another marquee presidential item includes part of the sheet from Abraham Lincoln’s death bed removed from the Peterson Boarding House, a blood-stained linen swatch measuring .625” x .25.” The fabric is CAG encapsulated and comes with provenance from American diplomat Charles K. Tuckerman. A 1p typed letter signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on White House stationery dated June 6, 1942 acknowledged receipt of a New York architect’s annotated drawings relating to “a proposed net protection against torpedo attack for ocean going vessels.” FDR letters with military content are unusual, and such letters referring to Nazi U-boat attacks addressed to a civilian two years to the day before D-Day are next to impossible to find!


Albert Einstein, Henri Becquerel, Wilhelm Roentgen, Marie Curie, Thomas Babbage, Alexander Fleming, and Sigmund Freud are just a few of the scientists featured in our March sale. An Albert Einstein manuscript in German from ca. 1942 is paired with a vintage Lotte Jacobi photograph of the physicist wearing his beloved bomber jacket. Einstein’s manuscript, containing 91 words and 13 lines of mathematical calculations, relates to covariant bivectors, in what marked one of his final attempts at articulating his Unified Field Theory. An autograph letter signed by Henri Becquerel, discover of radioactivity, and an autograph letter signed by Wilhelm Roentgen, who developed X-rays, in their native languages of French and German respectively, testify to the breadth of this selection of first-rate scientific autographs.

Aviation, Space, Exploration and Technology are also well-represented. Among these items is a CAG encapsulated muslin swatch from the Wright Flyer, the Wright Brothers’s biplane, which first flew at Kitty Hawk in December 1903.


Our March sale features over 30 items relating to World Leaders, including Moshe Dayan, Catherine II of Russia, Mary Stuart, Emperor Hirohito, Fidel Castro, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Alfonso V of Aragon. In 1966, Israeli statesman Moshe Dayan spent four weeks embedded with U.S. forces in Vietnam, and his often critical observations of American military tactics was later published in his “Vietnam Diary.” A significant portion of Dayan’s original manuscript — a remarkable 197 pages in Hebrew with occasional words in English — is stored in a luxurious clamshell case, along with a signed first edition copy of the published book. Also offered is a beautiful partially printed document signed by Russian Empress Catherine II, as well as a large cream strip of lace removed from a dress belonging to Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. The lace comes with provenance dating it to 1566, from around the time when Stuart’s favorite Italian courtier David Rizzio was brutally stabbed to death in front of her.

These are just a few of many spectacular and one-of-a-kind items that will be offered on March 30, 2022. We hope you can join us!

–John Reznikoff

Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Photographs and Books!

Jan 31, 2022

University Archives will hold its next sale, Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Photographs & Books, on February 16, 2022, just a few days shy of George Washington’s 290th birthday. The Presidents’ Day holiday is certainly appropriate, since our 450+ lot sale features many outstanding presidential items ranging from Washington to Biden. Other well-represented collecting categories include Science & Technology, Aviation & Space, Sports, Literature, and the Civil War, to name just a few.

The February 16th auction index is as follows: American Politics / Supreme Court: Lots 1 – 27; American Presidents / First Ladies: Lots 28 – 118; Art: Lots 119 – 138; Aviation / Space: Lots 139 – 181; Business / Notables / Notorious: Lots 182 – 204; Civil Rights / Native American / Slavery: Lots 205 – 226; Colonial / Declaration of Independence / Revolutionary War: Lots 227 – 249; Entertainment / Music / Sports: Lots 250 – 280; History / Military: Lots 281 – 364; International / World Leaders: Lots 365 – 383; Literature: Lots 384 – 408; Old West: Lots 409 – 426; Science: Lots 427 – 457.


Superb historical material autographed by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, and other U.S. presidents will be sure to entice presidential collectors.

A Revolutionary War-dated manuscript letter twice signed by George Washington and relating to new military draft resolutions passed by the Continental Congress in 1780 provides detailed information about the number of soldiers who had survived the past winter at Morristown, New Jersey, harsher and snowier than even Valley Forge. Continental military commanders Henry “Lighthorse” Lee, Hazen, Webb, and Lamb are explicitly mentioned in this remarkable document. George Washington boldly signed a three-language ship’s passport on July 7, 1794 for a St. Bartholomew-bound schooner commanded by Captain Abijah Potter. Just one year later, Captain Potter was fatally axed during a shipboard slave uprising.

A Civil War-era scrapbook album compiled by an Union Army officer contains 214 bold and mostly high-grade signatures, including those of four presidents (Abraham Lincoln, James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, and Franklin Pierce); current and future Lincoln cabinet members (Hamlin, Colfax, Seward, Cameron, Welles, Bates); and a myriad of other important American politicians and military leaders. An early legal brief drafted by Abraham Lincoln on May 15, 1854 features his signature as “Lincoln for defendant” in the case of Coventry and Warwickshire Banking Company vs. William Whorrall.


Two items signed by Albert Einstein and a rare autograph document signed by Sir Isaac Newton lead our exceptionally rich Science category.

A typed letter in German signed by Einstein addressed to close friend Michele Besso recalled how the two collaborated to formulate the theory of special relativity over 35 years earlier. In the letter, Einstein compared the process of scientific theorizing to God’s creation of the world, both a “pointless luxury” but nevertheless essential to pushing the boundaries of understanding and existence. In a 1p autograph letter signed, Einstein argued that considering ether and its properties would lead to a more accurate understanding of special relativity.

Sir Isaac Newton, in his role as Warden of the Royal Mint in early 1699, inscribed and signed a recognizance bond relating to the criminal case against William Chaloner, a recalcitrant counterfeiter who was convicted of high treason and hanged at Tyburn two months later. Serious collectors of scientific material will also delight in sensational pieces related to Niels Bohr, Michael Faraday, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Max Planck, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Rutherford, and Alexander von Humboldt among many, many more!


Rare and unusual Sports, Music, and Old West material will also pass the auction block, including a first edition copy of “The Babe Ruth Story,” complete with its original dust jacket and a 1948 letter of provenance, signed by the Sultan of Swat just six months before his cancer death. A signed manuscript copy of John Howard Payne’s wistful song “Home! Sweet Home!”– one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite melodies–was dedicated to the songwriter’s female friend. Also included is a turn-of-the-century diary and address book signed by Virgil Earp, Wyatt’s older brother, and a fellow participant of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The extreme scarcity of Virgil Earp autographs, combined with the item’s unbroken chain of custody from Virgil’s third wife Alvira, make this an Old West treasure.

These are just a few of many spectacular autographs, manuscripts, photographs, rare books, maps, relics, and historical collectibles that will be offered on February 16, 2022. We hope you can join us!

–John Reznikoff

University Archives is ushering in 2022 with a brand-new sale on January 6, 2022

Dec 20, 2021

At over 530 lots, the January auction will include outstanding items from the Presidential, Science, Early American, Civil Rights, Art, Music, and Aviation/Space collecting categories. A 201-lot subset of the sale will exclusively feature pieces which are PSA/DNA slabbed and graded. As many in the industry know, items presented in this format, once solely the territory of sports cards, have taken the collectibles field to the next level, with frequent realizations into the multi-million-dollar range. While old-school collectors tend to be more tactile, the new breeds favor a new way to secure their investments, that is, by having items third party-graded, authenticated, and permanently protected. Even Wall Street is on board, with Steve Cohen, et al.’s billion-dollar purchase of Collectors Universe, the parent company of PSA.  This being our biggest sale yet, we are confident that there will be many fantastic opportunities for dealers and collectors of all categories.

The January auction index is as follows:

American Politics/Supreme Court: Lots 1-9;

American Presidents/First Ladies: Lots 10-56;

Art: Lots 57-73;

Aviation/Space: Lots 74-103;

Business/Notables/Notorious: Lots 104-145;

Civil Rights/Native American/Slavery: Lots 146-165;

Colonial/Declaration of Independence/Revolutionary War: Lots 166-202;

Entertainment/Music/Sports: Lots 203-245;

History/Military: Lots 246-289;

International/World Leaders: Lots 290-301;

Literature: Lots 302-318;

Old West: Lots 319-325; Science: Lots 326-334;

PSA/DNA Slabbed & Graded (in alphabetical order): Lots 335-536.

On the day of the auction, we will be taking a 30-minute break after Lot 334. We’re not exactly sure when Lot 334 will close. Yet we assume that we will resume the sale after the break at approximately 3:30 pm EST. We will update this on the day of the auction. We hope you can join us!

March Auction Strong, Next Auction May 2020

Apr 2, 2020

Our March 26th online auction had a strong showing, with a sell through rate of over 86%! Please join us for our next online auction, to be held in May 2020.  More details to come.