Auctions | September 8, 2014

Nelson Mandela’s “Freedom Torch” at Auction


BOSTON, MA—(September, 8 2014) RR Auction is proud to announce that Nelson Mandela's 'Freedom Torch,' used during a historic ceremony to symbolize the end of Apartheid, will be featured in an upcoming live auction event that is scheduled to take place in Boston in September.

On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Prison after spending nearly three decades in detention under the South African apartheid regime—a pivotal moment in the history of the nation and the world. This marked the beginning of the end for a racist oppression embedded in culture and codified in law, with Mandela embodying the spirit of the peace, democracy, and freedom that would take its place. In 1994, South Africa held its first fully representative democratic national election—now open to all races—which would see Mandela elected as the country's first black president.

While on the campaign trail on February 3, 1994, Mandela returned to Victor Verster Prison to reenact his liberation, lighting a 'flame of freedom'—using the torch— that has only recently surfaced, to honor those who suffered to end apartheid. Mandela gathered with others who had been held as political prisoners and he was presented this torch at the prison gate, then lighted the symbolic flame, freed some doves, and placed a wreath on the razor wire hedge erected at the prison entrance. He then rode past adoring crowds to a rally at the soccer stadium in Paarl.

“It was such an apocalyptic moment seeing Mandela holding up that flame of freedom. I knew then, on top of all deep reflections in a lonely prison cell had revealed to me, that in my personal capacity I had a solemn responsibility to go on carrying that flame of freedom for as long as I lived— others too would have felt the same,” says Mosiuoa Lekota, a South African politician who currently serves as the President and Leader of the Congress of the People. “May all of us who shared that experience with Madiba that day continue to work for the realization of his vision and the attainment of the unity he so fervently desired,” adds Lekota.

Mandela's torch measures 21? long and constructed of an iron-type metal, with the flame holder punctured in a rudimentary pattern to allow the flame to breath, and the charred remnants of the wick remain inside. The handle is a wrapped with a hard woven grip.

“This was the only torch used by Mandela on this historic occasion,” says Bobby Livingston, Exec VP at RR Auction, “with an abundance of photographic and video evidence as well as letters of provenance — global interest is expected to be intense.”

Following the rally, Mandela presented the torch to a white worker who had assembled the platforms and staging for the rally as a token of appreciation and unity.

Photo Einstein.jpg

Among other Museum quality pieces to be featured in the Rare and Remarkable auction:            

  • Amazing and extremely rare matte-finish 7 x 11 world-famous photo of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue, signed in the lower border in fountain pen.
  • Amazing archive of material, highlighted by four letters by John F. Kennedy, from the family of Harold W. Marney, one of two crewmembers killed when the PT-109 commanded by JFK was sunk by a Japanese destroyer.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Rolex valued at an estimated $1 million; the 18-carat timepiece, the firm's 150,000th, was presented to the five-star general in 1951 for his service in the Second World War.

A live 2-day live auction event will be held in Boston, MA on September 17 & 18, 2014 at the Omni Parker House, 60 School Street, Boston, MA 02108. For a complete schedule of events, please visit the RR Auction web site (

Images courtesy of RR Auction.