Auctions | May 1, 2019

Early American History, Science & Tech at University Archives Auction on May 15

Westport, CT –  Collectors of early American history, science and technology and Civil War memorabilia will want to mark their calendars for Wednesday, May 15th, when those popular categories and many others will be featured in University Archives’ next online-only auction, starting at 10:30 am Eastern time. In all, close to 300 quality lots will come up for bid.

Live bidding for the auction has already been posted online. Internet bidding is available via the popular platforms and As with all University Archives auctions, this one is loaded with rare, highly collectible autographed documents, manuscripts, books, photos and relics. People can visit the company website at

“Besides the best offering of Declaration signers in years with 66 lots, we are strong in Lincoln, Washington, Kennedy, Civil War, Revolutionary War and science and technology, highlighted by a couple of great Einstein letters,” said University Archives president and owner John Reznikoff.

Mr. Reznikoff added, “One of my favorite lots in the sale is a guestbook from the Bunker Hill Memorial, which has over 12,000 signatures, including Mary Todd Lincoln. This item seems to tie together the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, as the signatures were written during the latter. As always, there is something for everyone in this hand-picked, carefully curated auction.”


Courtesy of University Archives

Remarkable Bunker Hill guestbook, signed during the Civil War by about 12,000 visitors to the famous Revolutionary War battle site and commemorative monument (est. $9,000-$10,000).

A two-page, handwritten letter signed by Abraham Lincoln while President, dated May 23, 1863, addressed to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, regarding the Illinois Central Railroad, with a note signed by Stanton, has an estimate of $30,000-$50,000. Also, a letter from John Adams, signed to George Alexander Otis in Amsterdam, dated April 22, 1820, in which he thanks Otis for a translation of Archbishop de Pradt’s Europe, should finish at $12,000-$15,000.

George Washington will make multiple appearances in the auction, including an oval portrait of the first President as part of a museum-quality commemorative display presented to the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind after her 1850 American tour (est. $15,000-$20,000); and a document signed by Washington on June 9, 1783, discharging from military service William Wheeler, Matross (2nd N.Y. Artillery Regiment) at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War (est. $10,000-$12,000).

A letter written and signed by the early American political activist Thomas Paine, dated July 2, 1805, in which he asks a newspaper editor if it were true that Great Britain had proposed that the Duke of Clarence be made the King of America, is estimated at $30,000-$35,000. Also, a superb framed display devoted to frontiersman Davy Crockett – to include his autograph, a portrait, a depiction of the Battle of the Alamo and a commemorative coin, should make $8,000-$9,000.

A nine-page letter written and signed by Thomas Clarkson, the father of the British abolitionist movement, dated June 9, 1842, regarding the abolition of slavery in the West Indies and the conversion of plantation slave labor into a free labor system should hit $3,000-$3,500; and an archive of Civil War and post-war documents and items related to George Henry, an officer from Massachusetts, including his diary and Gettysburg sword, is expected to garner $2,000-$3,000.

A typed, one-page copy of a letter written in English in 1950 by Albert Einstein in response to an earlier, three-page letter from Mark Van Doren, with Einstein’s handwritten computations and formulas on verso, should realize $15,000-$17,000; while two pages of handwritten notes by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988), in which he mentions using the Runge-Kutta method to solve different mathematical equations, is estimated at $9,000-$10,000.

Mr. Reznikoff’s remarks concerning the offering of signers of the Declaration of Independence – 55 names in all, representing all but one of the men who signed the historic document – allude to what will probably be the headliner portion of the catalog. Rarely does a nearly complete set of Declaration signers come up for bid, especially as individual lots. A few of the names include:

•    Arthur Middleton – (South Carolina); his signature is very rare (est. $20,000-$22,000).
•    John Hancock – an attractive, early example of his classic signature (est. $1,800-$2,000).
•    Francis Lewis – (New York); a signed letter regarding wine delivery (est. $2,600-$2,800).
An archive of material pertaining to Lloyd Best – the early aviation mechanic and metalsmith who knew Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh and Douglas “Wrong-Way” Corrigan – to include items signed by all three and fabric from the Spirit of St. Louis and the Wright Flyer – should soar to $12,000-$14,000. Also, a typed letter by J. Robert Oppenheimer, signed to Leslie R. Groves, Jr., from Oct. 1962, about the origins of the atomic bomb and the code name “Trinity”, should make $8,000-$9,000.

A rare Schutz-Pass document signed by Swedish diplomat and humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg, created in response to efforts to save Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, written in Hungarian and dated Sept. 28, 1944, has an estimate of $7,000-$8,000; and a one-page letter inscribed in French in a clerical hand in 1811 and signed by Napoleon Bonaparte, addressed to his Minister of Public Treasury Nicolas Francois and regarding bookkeeping, should breeze to $2,000-$2,400.

As with all University Archives online auctions, this one is packed with important, rare and collectible signed documents and other items relating to some of the most famous names in all of history. The firm has become world-renowned as a go-to source for rare items of this type. It is actively seeking quality material for future auctions. This presents a rare opportunity for sellers.

“We can offer up to a 100 percent cash advance and a highly competitive commission structure,” Reznikoff said. “We’re only able to do this owing to our position in the industry as the premier auction house for signed historical documents, letters and manuscripts. Our reputation is rock-solid worldwide and has been earned over a period of four decades. People respect us globally.”

Anyone who has a single item or a collection that may be a fit for a future University Archives auction may call Mr. Reznikoff at 203-454-0111, or email him at

University Archives was founded in 1979, as a division of University Stamp Company, by Mr. Reznikoff, who started collecting stamps and coins in 1968, while in the third grade. Industry-wide, Reznikoff is considered the leading authenticity expert for manuscripts and documents. He consults with law enforcement, dealers, auction houses and both major authentication companies.
For more information about University Archives and the Wednesday, May 15th Internet-only auction, please visit For phone bidding, please call 800-237-5692.