Westport, CT - A baseball bat signed by both Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, a baseball signed by Jackie Robinson, the life raft from Francis Gary Powers’s downed U-2 spy plane and several pieces of dishware from Ronald and Nancy Reagan will all come up for bid Wednesday, December 6th, in University Archives’ online-only auction, beginning at 10:30 am Eastern time.
The 211-lot auction is a fabulous assemblage of autographed documents, rare books, relics and manuscripts. The full catalog can be viewed now, at www.universityarchives.com, with internet bidding facilitated by Invaluable.com. The sale is packed with important, scarce and collectible signed documents and other items relating to some of the most important names in all of history.
“This sale is one of the most eclectic and interesting we’ve had to date,” said John Reznikoff, the founder and president of University Archives, based in Westport. “There is a strong Americana component, including many outstanding Kennedy lots, seven Lincoln lots and five Washington lots. Non-American lots will feature letters handwritten by Pavlov and Darwin’s son - something for just about everybody, and if the item is a gift, it will arrive in plenty of time for the holidays.”
The bat signed by Ruth and Aaron - possibly a one-of-a-kind - is a 15 ½ inch long mini wood bat made by the Kren Bat Company, founded in 1913. The Ruth signature is dark and vibrant. The bat has also been signed by former major league pitcher Charles “Dazzy” Vance and Lou Gehrig (although it’s unclear whether Gehrig’s wife signed on his behalf). The bat comes with two letters of authenticity (PSA/DNA and James Spence) and has an estimate of $6,000-$7,000.
The baseball signed by Jackie Robinson is a Brooklyn Dodgers National League Champions ball from 1956, also signed by many other team members, to include Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Dick Williams, Don Zimmer, Duke Snider and manager Walter Alston. The ball, pre-certified by PSA/DNA and lightly soiled, should finish at $1,500-$1,700.
The yellow life raft believed to have been aboard Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy jet when he was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1st, 1960, is an authentic Cold War relic, made of thick, inflatable plastic, containing a black flexible tube, with teeth marks used to inflate it. Consigned by Powers’s son - Francis Gary Powers, Jr., an expert public speaker on the U-2 incident and Cold War history - the raft comes with his letter of provenance and should bring $6,000-$7,000.
The dishware pieces from the Reagans will be sold as individual lots. They include a large and elegant crystal dessert coupe (est. $400-$500); a Steuben Glass Works wine glass (est. $400-$500); a consume bowl designed by Richard Ginori, with the pattern matched in a famous birthday photo of the Pres. and Mrs. Reagan (est. $400-$500); and an ironstone ceramic teacup and plate in the 1776 Independence pattern, made by Interspace of Japan (each est. $400-$500).
JFK collectibles are always in huge demand and this sale’s got several. These include his silk scarf made by SULKA, very sophisticated and monogrammed “JFK” (est. $6,000-$8,000); his personally owned and used Zippo lighter, with great provenance and a graphic of the battleship U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD850) (est. $1,500-$2,000); and Kennedy’s bathing trunks from a rare, carefree moment aboard the famous family sailboat the Honey Fitz (est. $7,000-$8,000).
Jacqueline Kennedy will also be represented in the sale, with a letter personally hand-penned in August 1966 to Luella Hennessy, John, Jr.’s nanny. The letter was written on Jackie’s personally hand-painted, decorated floral stationery, with Hyannis Port, Mass. letterhead and includes her lovely hand-painted florals to the stationery sheet and a watercolor scene to the envelope. The letter was written while John-John was recuperating from a tonsillectomy (est. $3,000-$3,500).
Collectors of presidential memorabilia can’t get enough of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both are in the sale, multiple times. Beginning with Washington, a superb example of his signature, with his personal wax seal affixed, has an estimate of $6,000-$7,000; while an important 1781 Call for Recruits bi-fold on laid paper stock, signed by Benjamin Lincoln, a major general in the Continental Army under Washington, has an estimate of $2,000-$2,400.
Other Washington items will feature a piece of burgundy velvet from Washington’s personally owned and worn cloak (2 ½ inches by ¾ inch), descended from the family of Col. Tobias Lear, Washington’s personal secretary, matted and framed with a color print portrait of Washington. It has an estimate of $6,000-$7,000. Also, a 1792 broadside, signed by Washington, wherein he outlines the duties of consuls and vice-consuls of the new nation, should sell for $2,500-$3,000.
Seven Lincoln items will include a signed Civil War transport pass (est. $5,000-$6,000); a note written and signed just four days before his death (est. $6,000-$7,000); a bank check signed and engrossed in Lincoln’s hand, with historical provenance and a portrait (est. $8,000-$10,000); an assassination display featuring strands of hair from Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward (est. $1,200-$1,400); an 1861 signed appointment document (est. $4,000-$5,000); and a superb signature of Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882), Pres. Lincoln’s wife (est. $2,000-$2,400).
A letter of thanks written in German in the late 1920s or early 1930s by Ivan Pavlov, to Leon Whitney, founder of the American Eugenics Society (and a man Hitler studied to prepare for his Master Race), should command $3,500-$4,000; and a letter written by Leonard Darwin, Charles Darwin’s son, also to Eugene Whitney, where he offers a reflective exploration of several of his father’s principles and refers to findings on ancestral cells, carries an estimate of $2,500-$3,000.
John Reznikoff started collecting in 1968, while in the third grade, and in 1979 he formed the company he runs today, University Archives, a division of University Stamp Co. Industry-wide, Reznikoff is considered the leading authenticity expert for manuscripts and documents and he consults with law enforcement, dealers, auction houses and both major authentication companies.
For more information about University Archives and the Wednesday, December 6th auction, please visit www.universityarchives.com.
Image: Bank check signed and engrossed in Abraham Lincoln’s own hand, with historical provenance and a portrait of Lincoln (est. $8,000-$10,000).