Twain Typewriter and Lincoln Bookcase: Auction Results

Heritage Auctions

Mark Twain's Williams No. 6 typewriter

We reported earlier this month on Mark Twain's typewriter going under the hammer at Heritage Auctions. The Williams No. 6 model typewriter, its black metal frame fixed to a wooden base with its original Williams metal cover (slightly dented), eventually went for $106,250.

Twain owned the typewriter - which is not functional and has light discoloration to some keys - from 1908 until his death in 1910 but had a rather love-hate relationship with it and typewriters in general. Nevertheless, in 1883 he delivered Life on the Mississippi to his publisher in typewritten form, making him one of the first American authors to ever submit a manuscript completely in typescript. 

Twain's daughter Clara gifted this typewriter (along with Twain's personalized burlap bag and boudoir card) to Harry B. Iles, the Superintendent and Groundskeeper at Stormfield, the author's home in Connecticut, as a thank you for his years of dedicated service. The items descended through the Iles family until their sale in 1982. They were purchased by the current consignor, a close friend of Mr. Iles' son, Harry, in 1990, from the widow of the 1982 purchaser and had never before been offered at auction. 

Meanwhile, in a separate Heritage Auctions sale, a carte de visite signed by former President Abraham Lincoln went for $106,250, one of six Lincoln is known to have signed as a donation to a Sanitary Fair that was held October 18, 1864, in Tazewell County, Illinois.

Additionally, a bookcase from Lincoln's law office was sold for $30,000. The five-shelf bookcase - the two doors missing and with minor warping to the shelves - was owned and used by the future president in his law office in Springfield, Illinois. The simple design is accented by a thin midnight-blue velvet trim.

In the same sale, aggressive bidding drove a Martin Luther King Jr. inscribed and signed copy of Ebony Magazine to $93,750. From the May 1965 issue covering the historic Selma-to-Montgomery marches in Alabama, the front wrapper is inscribed and signed in blue ballpoint pen by King: “To my Friend / Claude Wyatt / With Warm Personal Regards / Martin Luther King Jr.” 

Rev. Claude S. Wyatt Jr. and his wife Rev. Addie L. Wyatt were prominent civil rights activists who founded Chicago’s Vernon Park Church of God in 1956 and were closely affiliated with King until his 1968 assassination, and marched with him at the 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. Five months later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law.

One of the most important military addresses of the Civil War, Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby’s Farewell Address to His Rangers closed at $40,000. Then a colonel of the 43rd Virginia Cavalry, popularly known as 'Mosby’s Rangers', Mosby issued his famous farewell order to his cavalrymen in the closing days of the Civil War. The April 9, 1865 surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox meant the end for Mosby’s Rangers. Rather than surrender his command to the Union, Mosby chose to formally disband the regiment.