Auctions | April 17, 2016

Presidents, Writers, and Prominent Women at Swann Galleries’ Autographs Auction

Lot-215-Pres-John-Tyler-ALS copy.jpgNew York— On Thursday, May 5, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of Autographs, featuring presidents and other influential historical figures, scientists, artists, writers and musicians.

            Among presidential autographs is a partially-printed vellum military commission Document Signed by Thomas Jefferson appointing William Henry Allen Lieutenant in the Navy, Washington D.C., 17 February 1807 (estimate: $6,000 to $9,000). An archive of correspondence with more than thirty pages from Theodore Roosevelt and his family to Edwin A Van Valkenburg, editor of the Philadelphia North American, an influential paper, is also included in the sale ($6,000 to $9,000).  An Autograph Letter Signed, circa 1858, from the tenth President of the United States John Tyler to his son, explains the “exchequer plan” he proposed, which was rejected by congress ($6,000 to $9,000), while several items signed by President Abraham Lincoln are also featured, including military commissions.

            Autograph items from scientists and inventors include a group of four letters (one Autograph Letter Signed and three Typed Letters Signed) from Albert Einstein to fellow physicist Helmut L. Bradt, concerning Bradt’s emigration from Switzerland to the United States to avoid the Nazis ($10,000 to $15,000). Also featured is an Autograph Letter Signed by Samuel F.B. Morse addressed to Treasury Secretary McClintock Young, requesting the remainder of the government appropriation in order to continue his telegraph experiments ($6,000 to $9,000).

            The auction also features a selection of items signed by influential women. The the top lot of the sale is Anne and Margot Frank’s copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, signed by the young diarist herself circa 1940, and offered with a letter from Otto Frank, gifting the book to the current owners ($20,000 to $30,000). There are several items signed by aviator Amelia Earhart, including a 1927 Autograph Letter Signed to “My dear Miss Sargent” explaining that she had taken up social work while pursing aviation ($1,000 to $2,000). In a Typed Letter Signed, Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell expresses her surprise that young people would be interested in her book, which she thought would primarily appeal to an older readership ($2,000 to $3,000).

            Items related to other authors include an autograph manuscript by Oscar Wilde sure to please bibliophiles. Consisting mostly of notes for a book review, in the unsigned papers being offered Wilde largely pans Percy H. Fitzgerald’s The Book Fancier, 1886 ($5,000 to $7,500). Additionally, an archive follows the development of author and illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans’s The Street Where the Heart Lies. The lot features several Autograph Letters Signed, as well as a drawing with notes and other items ($10,000 to $15,000). Other writers whose signatures can be found in the sale include Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft and Mark Twain among many others.

The auction will be held Thursday, May 5, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Monday, May 2 through Wednesday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information or to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Swann Autographs Specialist Marco Tomaschett at 212-254-4710, extension 12 or

Image: Lot 215 John Tyler, Autograph Letter Signed, as President, to his son, describing the main points of his exchequer system, circa 1858. Estimate $6,000 to $9,000.