Auctions | July 17, 2015

Book MLK Jr. Signed and Inscribed to US Chief Justice Earl Warren Sells for Estimate-Shattering $49,335


YORK, Pa.—A hardcover first edition of Stride Toward Freedom which its author, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., signed and personally inscribed to Chief Justice Earl Warren, made a powerful statement of its own on July 14 when it sold for $49,335. The historically important book was the centerpiece of the political memorabilia section in a two-day Internet auction conducted by Hake’s Americana of York, Pennsylvania.

Competition for the book ran through the night and into the early hours of July 15th. When the last of 11 bids was accepted as final, the book had well surpassed its pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$35,000.

Published in late 1958, the book was signed by King and given to Warren as a personal gift a few months later, in early 1959. 

Warren’s leadership was widely credited in the Supreme Court’s 1954 unanimous decision on Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark bill that banned segregation in public schools. In a bold hand, Dr. King inscribed the book: “To Justice Earl Warren, In appreciation for your genuine good-will, your great humanitarian concern, and for your unswerving devotion to the sublime principles of our American democracy. With warm Regards, Martin L. King Jr.” 

After Warren’s death in 1974, the book remained in the Warren family’s personal library until its consignment to Hake’s auction. 

“The price paid for the book did not surprise us. It is a historic artifact of the highest magnitude and truly a one-of-a-kind piece,” said Alex Winter, President of Hake’s Americana. “Both men associated with the book were integral figures in the Civil Rights Movement, and the importance of their legacy cannot be overstated. For this important work of literature to be signed by the author, Dr. King, to Chief Justice Warren places it in its own stratosphere when compared to other MLK Jr. signed pieces, or any artifact associated with social consciousness, for that matter.”

Winter said the buyer wishes to remain anonymous.