Auctions | March 29, 2018

Cuban Missile Crisis Map & Hemingway Letters Go Under the Hammer

Missile Map.jpegBoston, MA -  Ernest Hemingway letters written by the American novelist, short story writer, and journalist will be auctioned by Boston-based RR Auction. 

The group of four letters from Hemingway to his close friend Guy Hickok, comprising one signed letter, two partial autograph letters, and a one-page typed signed letter. 

The longest is a nine-page letter, signed “Ernest,” dated May 7, [1931], was written aboard the S.S. Volendam of the Holland-America Line. In part: “When my kidney was being weird had to give up drinking for about 6 weeks but now can drink and have drunk for ever since a year ago last February—I may have made a certain amt. of dough which has all been give away, loaned or spent but I am a son of a bitch if I have become respectable and no later than last winter was forced to sleep all night on the front porch—not being a good size for Pauline to carry up stairs—and on going to church the next morning was supposed to be healed…just because I had bumped into the holy water fount, that I saw the car was standing with the top down and the 3/4 empty bottle very visible (it had been invisible in the dark) in front of the church with the French nameplate to identify it! Don’t want to claim to be a drunk like you but have not become respectable Gros—The reason I didn't write you about the book is because it is hard enough to write it without writing about it. But listen if you will come down to Madrid you can read it typed…besides which we could see who can drink and who not and see the bullfights—The dope is this…will go to Madrid and work like a bastard on this book until finished—Have 280 some pages done—most to be written over and 1/3 or more to be added—I think you’ll like the damn book.” 

He goes on to discuss his travel plans and the repayment of a loan, before discussing an arm injury suffered in Montana: “I couldn't write then because my arm was still paralyzed. Have only been able to write since 3 weeks. It will be absolutely all right if keep after it. Anyway can shoot, fish and write with it now, but can't sock anybody.” Here, he sketches a diagram of his arm’s range of motion. Hemingway also provides a sketch of his new home in Key West, pointing out his favorite features, including a “flat roof, see all over town and sea.” 

The second, a one page letter in pencil, unsigned, one page both sides, June 18, [1935], in part: “Listen stupid when you get in a money jam why in hell don’t let me know?…God dammit I was always suspicious of that Syndicate job…Gingrich of Esquire is coming here July 3-6 to fish and I will talk to him about your staff.” 

The third, a one page letter that is undated, in part: “Address here is E. Hemingway, c/o Captain George D. Kreidt, 1437 S.W. 5th Street, Miami, he brings mail on pilot boat once a week. Just got Mary’s letter last night. Don’t be afraid to cash this check as have 438 in bank by latest statement. Also 1000 coming in on July 1.” 

The fourth, is a one-page typed letter signed in pencil, “Hemingstein,” undated, in part: “It was swell to hear from you and thanks the hell of a lot for sending me the 100 bucks. I appreciate it like hell and know how damned hard it is to get money together in chunks as big as that. It came in damned handy because have been writing on this novel since last March First and during that time make no dough. Had seventy four bucks in my bank account when got your hundred.” At the conclusion, Hemingway jots down his Cuban address: “Address, Hotel Ambos Mundos, Havana—Cuba.” 

Also includes three letters in another hand (apparently dictated by Hemingway) as well as one unsigned typed letter, frequently referencing loans between the two. 

A young Ernest Hemingway first met the recipient of these letters, Guy Hickok (addressed here as “Gros”) in the early 1920s when they were both acting as foreign correspondents for North American newspapers in Paris. 

Hemingway, working for the Toronto Star, began what would become an enduring friendship with the good-natured Hickok, who was on assignment for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Hickok even provided the inspiration for Hemingway's short story ‘Che Ti Dice La Patria?’ (collected in Men Without Women, 1927). 

“The correspondence is congenial, unrestrained, and mildly profane, and lends tremendous insight into Hemingway’s life and work,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction. 

Among other items to be featured: John F. Kennedy's personal 'victory map' of Cuba used during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The map, in two sheets that feature eight types of sticker symbols applied to the surface, representing Soviet MiG fighter jets, Komar-class missile boats, IL-28 bombers, SS-4 missiles, SSM-Cruise missiles and nuclear storage sites. 

The intelligence represented by this map was supplied by U-2 spy planes, confirming President Kennedy's worst fears of an increasing Soviet military presence just one hundred miles away from the American coast. The map is marked "Secret" in the lower left and upper right corners. A two-page key paperclipped to the upper right corner, headed "MRBM-IRBM Status of Cuban Missiles," dated October 27, 1962, summarizes the Soviet military buildup, listing sites, enumerating number of launchers and missiles, and completion status. In fine condition, with tape stains to edges. 

Accompanied by a detailed letter of provenance, in full: "This ‘victory map’ was given to me about twenty years ago by Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. During a meeting at his office, McNamara described for me the pressure President John Kennedy was under from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to order an attack on Soviet targets in Cuba. McNamara said the president pored over this map before deciding to delay the attack.  

The map shows the position of every Soviet missile, bomber and fighter jet and nuclear storage facility in Cuba as of noon on Saturday, October 27, 1962. This was the most dangerous moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis. October 27 was the day the crisis came within hours, even minutes, of triggering a war between the United States and Soviet Union. That morning, a Soviet anti-air missile shot down a U-2 spy plane on a photo reconnaissance mission over Cuba. Many years later, the Cubans claimed Fidel Castro himself pushed the button to fire the missile. 

Later that afternoon, two U.S. destroyers dropped depth charges on a Soviet submarine. At last minute, the Soviet captain surfaced his submarine, his other option being to launch his missiles against the U.S. mainland. When the sun set that evening, McNamara wondered if he'd be alive to see the following Saturday's sunset. Kennedy's ExCom meet three times on this Saturday. The Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed for an air strike against the Soviet missile sites and other targets. Had Kennedy given the order, this map shows the nine Soviet targets U.S. warplanes would have bombed. But overnight, everything changed. 

Relying on a letter from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to President Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin hammered out a deal. The Soviets agreed to withdraw their missiles and other offensive weapons in return for the U.S. pledging not to invade Cuba. The U.S. secretly promised to remove obsolete missiles from Turkey. The nine targets on the map became the weapons the U.S. forced out of Cuba. 

When Kennedy presented the map to McNamara, he called it the ‘victory map.’ During my meeting with McNamara, he said this was the only time he ever heard Kennedy say anything that sounded like gloating about how the crisis ended." 

In the annals of the Cold War, no event is more talked about and debated than the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 16, 1962 to October 28, 1962. It is considered the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war. 

This amazing map dates to the penultimate day of the crisis—October 27th, a day that saw an American pilot shot down over Cuba. Had Kennedy given the order to attack, this map shows the nine Soviet targets that American fighters would have bombed. 

Finally, a deal was brokered between Kennedy and Khrushchev (through Robert Kennedy and Anatoly Dobrynin) in which the Soviets would dismantle their missiles and installations in Cuba, in exchange for US removal of missiles from Turkey and a pledge to never invade Cuba. 

“It’s a truly remarkable, museum-quality Kennedy piece,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction. 

Also featured is the personal diary of Maud Shaw, the official White House nanny during the Kennedy administration. The diary details the development of Caroline and John Kennedy as infants and toddlers between the years 1957 and 1962. The diary, contains 22 handwritten pages, covers the emergence of teeth, first steps, first words, illnesses, and a detailed record of their nutritional intake. 

The Fine Autographs and Artifacts auction from RR Auction began on March 16 and will conclude on April 11.  More details can be found online at

Image: Lot # 175 - John F. Kennedy's 'victory map' used during the Cuban Missile Crisis