Einstein, Custer's Wife, & More at University Archives' Online Auction on Feb. 21
Westport, CT - Rare and fascinating archives of material pertaining to Albert Einstein and Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s wife Elizabeth, plus others, will come up for bid in an online-only auction of autographed documents, manuscripts, books and relics scheduled for Wednesday, February 21st by University Archives, at 10:30 am Eastern. In all, 249 lots will come up for sale.
Bidders can view all the lots now, and register to bid, at www.UniversityArchives.com. Online bidding is being facilitated by Invaluable.com. The auction is packed with important, scarce and collectible signed documents and other items relating to some of the most important names in all of history. The archives are in the spotlight due to their rarity, importance and high estimates.
“Many of these archives haven’t seen the light of day for many years,” said John Reznikoff, the founder and president of University Archives, based in Westport. “These groups present a significant opportunity for both institutions and collectors alike. Sometimes dealers end up buying them and breaking them up. This sale has a host of material in nearly every category.”
The Einstein archive comprises letters and telegrams (14 pieces in all) written by Albert and his wife Elsa, to their friend, the Danish journalist Karen Stampe Bendix (1881-1963). Written in Danish and German from 1930-1933, the letters cover a range of topics, to include the growing German threat (“particularly deplorable is the weak stance by the British”) (est. $15,000-$2,000).
The Elizabeth Custer archive of over 600 manuscript pages is a newly discovered, unpublished and museum-quality trove of letters and drafts by Mrs. Custer, the custodian of the legacy of her famous military husband killed at Little Big Horn. Most were written from Daytona Beach, Fla. (circa 1927-1932). Included are several notebooks, plus a buggy whip (est. $20,000-$25,000).
Additional archives in the auction will include:
- An archive of ten signatures, signed letters and documents from ten U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury, to include Alexander Hamilton (a partially printed document, signed as “Alexander Hamilton” and dated January 4th, 1792, in the midst of a financial crisis), Salmon Chase (also a partially printed document), and eight others. (est. $3,000-$5,000).
- An archive of twelve letters (21 pages total) written by and to Gen. William Smallwood (1732-1792), all pertaining to the recruitment of soldiers and officers for the Maryland Line in the Continental Army at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. After the war, Smallwood was elected to Congress and was Governor of Maryland (est. $6,000-$8,000).
- An archive of 17 autograph letters signed “C.E. Gordon” (Charles “Chinese” Gordon), 13 of them dated 1882 and mostly relating to tortoises and the giant Coco de Mer palm tree growing in the Seychelles in Africa, which Gordon had identified as the location of the biblical Garden of Eden (the palm being the Tree of Knowledge). (est. $5,000-$6,000).
- An archive of more than 225 letters, mostly written between 1942 and 1945, by British Lieutenant Jack Harrison of the Royal Navy - over 1,000 pages in all, to include five full page detailed drawings, to his mother in Nottingham, England. Also included are letters and envelopes from Harrison’s service in Africa in 1945 and after (est. $1,200-$1,400).
Kennedy items are hugely popular with collectors. Lots will include John F. Kennedy’s personal and historic Cuban Missile Crisis “Victory Map”, 55 inches by 21 inches, with eight “sticker” symbols representing Soviet planes, ships and missiles (est. $30,000-$35,000); and a six-page letter hand-written by Jackie Kennedy to her mother while in college, in 1951, from aboard the Queen Elizabeth ship, written on Cunard Line stationery, with illustrations (est. $3,500-$4,000).
Muhammad Ali’s personal diary from 1968, with over 1,800 words written in the champ’s own hand, including two signatures, has an estimate of $8,000-$10,000. The diary, titled National Diary for 1968, was written while Ali was banned from boxing for refusing military service. Also, a four-page manuscript written by Marlon Brando, with signatures, a peek into the inner mind of the enigmatic actor, with musings, quotes and meanderings, should hit $1,800-$2,000.
Presidential items are a hallmark of University Archives auctions. A document inscribed and signed by Abraham Lincoln from June 10, 1861, written to Secretary of War Simon Cameron, endorsing a Maryland general’s request to assemble a brigade, should bring $6,000-$8000; and a free franked postal cover inscribed and signed by Thomas Jefferson in Sept. 1821, addressed to a professor of medicine at Transylvania University in Kentucky, has an estimate of $3,500-$4,000.
A recently discovered four-page letter, written and signed by Alexander Graham Bell in 1917 to his wife Mabel, signed by him and possibly one of only a couple of Bell letters in private hands that mention the telephone, has an estimate of $12,000-$14,000. Also, an important archive of 39 letters, mostly typewritten, between Dr. George Papanicolaou, the inventor of the Pap smear, and noted eugenicist Dr. Leon F. Whitney, spanning 1937-1954, should gavel for $10,000-$12,000.
A lovely typed copy of the poem The Road Not Taken, signed by its author, Robert Frost, should command $800-$1,000. It’s a narrative poem - four stanzas of five lines each - and reads quite conversationally. It’s also one of Frost’s most popular works. Also, a one-page partially printed and partially handwritten document in Cyrillic, signed by the Russian Empress Catherine the Great (as “Catherine”), dated Feb. 23, 1765 and rewarding a servant, should hit $1,500-$1,700.
University Archives was founded in 1979, as a division of University Stamp Company, by John 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, February 21st auction, please visit www.universityarchives.com.
Image: Elizabeth Custer archive - over 600 manuscript pages - a museum-quality trove of letters and drafts by Mrs. Custer, the widow of General George Armstrong Custer (est. $20,000-$25,000).