Auctions | October 12, 2020

Poe Letter Sells for $125,000 at RR Auction 

Courtesy of RR Auction

Boston — A rare handwritten letter by Edgar Allan Poe sold for $125,125, according to Boston-based RR Auction.

The one-page document signed "Edgar A. Poe," dated August 31, 1847. Poe's final letter to the Philadelphia lawyer and playwright Robert Taylor Conrad, editor of Graham's Magazine. In full: "It is now a month since I wrote you about the two articles I left with you—but, as I have heard nothing from you, I can only suppose that my letter has not reached you—or, at all events, that, in the press of other business, you have forgotten it and me. In it, after thanking you (as I do again most sincerely) for your late kindness to me in Phil[adelphi]a, I begged an answer in respect to the articles—mentioning $40 as the sum in which the Magazine would be indebted to me in case of their acceptance, and asking permission to draw for that amount. I owed Mr. Graham $50 (as nearly as I can remember) and the papers, at the old price, would come to 90. May I beg of you to reply, as soon as convenient." Addressed on the integral leaf in Poe's hand. The letter is accompanied by an engraved portrait and an export certificate from the French Ministry of Culture.

Not quite a month previously, on August 10, Poe had written to Conrad about the two articles he had offered to Graham's Magazine during his last visit to Philadelphia, where he had traveled to re-establish his magazine contacts. He states that he had obtained a $10 advance from Mr. Graham to pay for his return home. During this stay in Philadelphia, Poe had been taken seriously ill, and Conrad had provided assistance.

Poe had been editor of Graham's from February 1841 to April 1842, but continued to contribute after leaving the magazine's employ. It was where 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' first appeared, along with several other Poe short stories and literary reviews. Graham's eventually began rejecting Poe's submissions, and infamously passed up the chance to publish 'The Raven' in 1844.

"It's a beautifully preserved letter directly associated with Poe's career as writer and critic—an immensely desirable autograph," said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

Highlights from the sale include, but are not limited by:

The Surf Riders of Hawaii by A. R. Gurrey, Jr. sold for $34,440.

Albert Einstein's handwritten scientific manuscript in German sold for $28,185.

George Washington signed manuscript as president sold for $28,125.

Adam Smith signed manuscript from the Scottish economist and moral philosopher sold for $26,487.

Henry David Thoreau signed letter from June 22, 1837, sold for $18,781.

The Fine Autographs and Artifacts sale by RR Auction began on September 12 and concluded on October 7. For more information, go to