Potter & Potter Auctions' July 28 Sale to Feature a Collection of Hugh Hefner Letters, Artwork & Ephemera

hefner.jpgChicago — Potter & Potter Auctions is excited to present this extraordinary archive as part of the company's 619 lot Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale to be held on Saturday, July 28th, 2018. American entrepreneur Hugh Hefner (1926-2017) is best known as the original "Playboy" and the editor of the magazine of the same name. His over the top antics and personal and professional choices made international headlines for over half a century. He met Jane Borson Sellers at Steinmetz High School in Chicago in the early 1940s and maintained a close relationship with her over the course of his life. Sellers' collections of Hefner letters, drawings, cards, photos, and clippings capture the extraordinary nature of Hugh's lifestyle and career in touching, personal, and intimate ways. 

This sale offers a dozen Hugh Hefner lots with materials dating from the early 1940s thorough 2017.  All eyes will be on lot #445, an archive of correspondence between Hefner and Sellers. This collection includes over 60 typed signed letters and autograph letters, dating from Hefner’s last year of high school in Chicago to his two-year service in the Army; snapshots of Hefner and other members of his high school gang; high school yearbook clippings; and a photo of Hefner’s 1949 wedding to Millie Williams.  Many of the letters are embellished with original ink cartoon drawings by Hefner. The whole collection is neatly and chronologically organized in a binder, as organized by Borson, with her typed summary of the letters.  The preface of the archive is a note from "Hef" on Playboy letterhead dated May 31, 2002, which states: “As I understand it, the contents of personal correspondence is the legal property of the person who wrote the letters, but you have my permission to do whatever you like with them. They are yours with my love—for all the dreams and memories we’ve shared.” This once-in-a-lifetime offering is estimated at $10,000-20,000.

Hefner was a talented amateur cartoonist and considered becoming one professionally.  He appreciated fine cartoon artwork, and his publication always featured cartoons by the most famous cartoonists of the era. Several of his original early cartoons are included in this sale and reveal a rather funny and playful side of the future Playboy.  Lot #449, an original Hefner High School Cartoon entitled “My Typical Day at Steinmetz,” is estimated at $1,000-2,000.  This two page ink and watercolor cartoon from 1943 includes a labeled, hand-drawn diagram titled “Dissection of Soft Shell Clam,” reflecting the curriculum of Hefner's zoology class that day.  

Another headliner in the Hefner collection is lot #452, Hugh Hefner's 1944 signed high school senior class sepia print photograph.  This handsome headshot measures 8-3/8 x 6-1/8 and is inscribed, “To one of the sweetest, swellest gals I know-/Hef.” Of course, the “gal” here is Jane Borson Sellers.  It is estimated at $1,500-3,000.

According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "This archive reveals the private, personal, pre-Playboy side of Hugh Hefner - something very few, if any of his millions of fans got a glimpse of. Hefner lived on a grand scale, and was constantly in the spotlight, yet the letters he exchanged with his high school classmate show he was not just larger-than-life - he could also be down to earth. Offering historically significant, unique material of this nature is a true thrill." 

Image: Archive of Early Hefner Correspondence. Estimate $10,000-20,000

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