Auctions | November 11, 2014

Americana, Musical Autographs, Churchill Collection at Swann Galleries on November 20


New York—Swann Galleries’ Thursday, November 20 auction of Autographs offers property from private collections including the celebrated Forbes Collection and the collection of Milton R. Slater, in addition to 12 lots related to Winston Churchill from a private collection.

A strong selection of Americana features a copy of Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby’s farewell address to his troops, an autograph letter signed  “Fauquier, April 21st 65” (estimate: $50,000 to $75,000); a printed document signed by Thomas Jefferson, as Secretary of State, the act making Vermont the 14th state, Philadelphia, 18 February 1791 ($15,000 to $25,000) and a John Jay letter signed, as President of the Continental Congress, sending the Act of Congress resolving of boundary disputes between New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, signed twice by John Hancock as Speaker of the Massachusetts Council, Philadelphia, 25 September 1779 ($8,000 to $12,000); and an autograph letter signed by George Washington, to Chastel de la Vallée, acknowledging his letter and inviting him to Mount Vernon, 1 October 1788 ($15,000 to $25,000).

Also among important presidential material are a partly-printed vellum document signed by Abraham Lincoln, as President, a military commission countersigned by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Washington, 6 February 1862 ($5,000 to $7,500); an assortment of items from both Roosevelts, including a typed letter signed by Theodore Roosevelt as President, to Secretary of the Navy, in which he writes, “If there should come a brush with Colombia I want to be dead sure that Colombia fires first,” 21 December 1903 ($2,000 to $3,000) and several FDR-signed letters and photographs; and an autograph letter signed by Ronald Reagan to a fan, explaining how the Screen Actors Guild have subverted attacks from Communists by ensuring that every member votes, Burbank, 12 November 1947 ($4,000 to $6,000).

Highlights of the Churchill material include an archive of items relating to his membership in a British trade union, including signed letters that first decline invitation to join the union as a bricklayer, later ask for more information, and finally accept membership by sending a check—which is also included in the lot—23 September to 10 October 1928 ($8,000 to $12,000); a typed letter signed to his publisher, sending the first chapter of his book, Marlborough: His Life and Times, and promising to deliver the next chapter, Kent, 6 June 1932 ($4,000 to $6,000) and signed photographs including a full-length portrait on horseback ($2,000 to $3,000) and a group photograph of the Prime Minister with the dignitaries present at the signing of the agreement freeing Poland of Soviet control, 30 July 1941 ($4,000 to $6,000). 


A selection of remarkable music items features an autograph inscription signed “Johann Seb: Bach” by the great composer’s son, Johann Christian Bach, acknowledging receipt of a payment, Leipzig, circa 2 July 1750 ($8,000 to $12,000); Thomas Busby’s Concert Room and Orchestra Anecdotes, of Music and Musicians, Ancient and Modern, with six autographs, including Franz Joseph Haydn’s signature on a concert ticket, London, 1825 ($12,000 to $18,000); and an autograph letter signed by Richard Wagner, in which he grants permission to reproduce scenes from The Ring, Bayreuth, 5 February 1877 ($5,000 to $7,500).

There is an autograph letter signed by Ralph Waldo Emerson, explaining why her verses could not be accepted for publication in the Dial magazine, Concord, 6 July 1841 ($3,500 to $5,000); a photograph dated and signed by Albert Einstein, taken during his time as a visiting scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, 1931 ($4,000 to $6,000); a pamphlet with a photograph portrait signed “M.K. Gandhi,” in Hindi, Calcutta, circa 1930s ($2,000 to $3,000); and an Ayn Rand autograph manuscript, unsigned, a draft of her article entitled “Why I Like Stamp Collecting,” published in a 1971 stamp journal, which includes an account of her own experiences as a collector, as well as some characteristic social commentary ($3,000 to $4,000).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 20.

The Autographs will be on public exhibition Friday, November 14 and Monday, November 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday, November 18, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Wednesday, November 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, November 20, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

 An illustrated catalogue, with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online

For further information, and to make arrangements to leave a bid or to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Marco Tomaschett at (212) 254-4710, extension 12, or via e-mail at

Live online bidding is also available via

First image: Thomas Jefferson, printed document signed, as Secretary of State, an uncommon copy of the act making Vermont the 14th state, Philadelphia, 1791. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.

Second image: Johann Christian Bach, autograph inscription signed "Johann Seb: Bach," acknowledging receipt of a payment on behalf of his dying father, composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Leipzig, 1750. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000.