Auctions | January 30, 2019

Fine Autographs and Artifacts Featuring Presidents to be Auctioned

In honor of Washington's Birthday, RR Auction's February Fine Autograph and Artifact Auction includes a remarkable assortment of nearly 200 presidential autographs with online bidding through February 6, 2019.

The sale is highlighted by an excessively rare William Henry Harrison document signed as president.  The rare one-page document signed "W. H. Harrison,” dated August 28, 1841. 

The right half of a four-language ship's paper issued to "Theodore Wimpenney, master or commander of the Ship called the Margaret…lying at present in the port of Newport (RI), bound for Pacific Ocean and laden with provisions, Tackle & stores for a voyage in the whale fishery." 

Crisply signed at the conclusion by President Harrison and countersigned by Secretary of State Daniel Webster. Archivally double-matted and framed behind UV-protective acrylic.

This is a highly unusual piece, as by the time it was issued, President Harrison was dead. Four-language ship's passports were customarily left blank and signed in advance by the president before being sent out to American ports, where they were filled out and issued as needed. This section comprises the English and Dutch segments of the typical four-language document, with the French and Spanish areas absent. This document would have been signed by Harrison some time during his 31-day presidency, sent to a port, and then ultimately issued almost five months after his death. 

"Given his historically short tenure in office, Harrison's autograph as president is of the utmost rarity, and this is a boldly engrossed, supremely desirable example," said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction. 

Among other presidential material is a rare autographed letter from President Johnson to Speaker McCormack, a key supporter of the 'Great Society.’

Autograph letters and notes by Johnson are extremely scarce in general, with his letters as president standing among the rarest presidential autographs—this is just the second Johnson signed letter as president on standard White House stationery that we have ever offered. That it is to Speaker of the House John McCormack is equally notable. During his own time in the House and Senate, Johnson had emerged as one of the most capable legislators of his time, utilizing his domineering personality to persuade other politicians in his favor.

The sale also contains a significant selection of free franks among them; a Revolutionary War-era free frank from General Washington, another from President Lincoln  to Mary Todd's New York hatmaker, and a President Jefferson free frank to his Philadelphia bookseller.  

Other top lots include an extraordinary signed portrait of James Joyce, Pierre-Auguste Renoir's personal ledger, an Einstein letter on a childhood game, and Warren Buffett's personal set of golf clubs.

The Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction Featuring Presidents from RR Auction will conclude on February 6.  For information, visit the RR Auction web site at