Shel Silverstein Will Headline University Archives' May 8 Online Sale
Westport, CT - A Betamax cassette with Apple Computer’s first (and now-famous) TV commercial that aired during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, a large photo of Albert Einstein signed, dated and inscribed by the legendary physicist, and an archive of material pertaining to author, musician and creative powerhouse Shel Silverstein will all come up for bid on Tuesday, May 8th.
They’re just a few of the 255 lots of rare and highly collectible autographed documents, photos, manuscripts, books and relics being offered by University Archives, based in Westport, in an online-only auction that will open for live bidding starting at 10:30 am Eastern time. People can register and bid now, at www.UniversityArchives.com or the internet platform Invaluable.com.
As with all University Archives online auctions, this one is packed with important, scarce and collectible signed documents and other items relating to some of the most important names in all of history. These will include JFK and Jackie Kennedy, MLK, Winston Churchill, Fidel Castro, Abraham Lincoln, Greta Garbo, Houdini, Andrew Jackson, Barack Obama and Marilyn Monroe.
The Betamax cassette with both Super Bowl ads from 1984 - the 30-second and 60-second spots - is a dub from a 1983 edit. It’s signed by Brent Thomas, the ads’ art director (the director was Ridley Scott). The ads were a dark, post-apocalyptic coming out for the first Apple computer, but were green-lighted by Apple’s genius-founder, Steve Jobs. They were a bit much, however, for a few Apple board members, who hated them. The cassette has an estimate of $10,000-$15,000.
The outstanding Albert Einstein signed black and white photo (“to Mr. K.H. Browne, A. Einstein 48”) measures 7 ½ inches by 9 inches (with mat). It depicts the Nobel Prize-winning theorist in a classic and pensive pose and is in fine condition (est. $7,000-$8,000). A companion lot - a typed document, signed by Einstein and dated April 19, 1950 - is expected to realize even more (est. $8,000-$10,000). It’s from publisher Didier, requesting permission to use material from a speech Einstein gave on Eleanor Roosevelt’s TV show regarding the hydrogen bomb, for a book project.
The remarkable archive depicting Shel Silverstein’s life and career as a multi-faceted artist (est. $60,000-$70,000) is filled with over 500 pages of manuscripts, typed and printed materials, poems, lyrics, sheet music, business and fan letters to Silverstein, contracts, royalty statements, two books and two record albums (circa 1962-1980). Silverstein was a creative force - writing everything from A Boy Named Sue (for Johnny Cash) to the children’s book The Giving Tree.
Collectors can’t seem to get enough of Kennedy memorabilia. Sometimes Jackie is more sought after than JFK. This sale has several outstanding items from the former First Lady, to include:
- The wool maternity dress worn by Jackie two months before delivering JFK Jr. and her husband winning the presidency. The dress has “Lord & Taylor Fifth Avenue” and “Ma Mere” tags. The lot includes two photos of her wearing the dress (est. $10,000-$12,000).
- Jackie’s owned and worn exquisite large gold, emerald and pearl pin, which she later gifted to her personal secretary, Mary Gallagher, as a Christmas present in 1960. The lot includes Jackie’s handwritten holiday well-wish to Ms. Gallagher (est. $6,000-$8,000).
- Jackie’s two-page handwritten letter to her mother from 1951, when she and sister Lee were toddling around Europe (the trip was Lee’s high school graduation present; Jackie was the chaperone). Included is a copy of their book about the trip (est. $3,000-$3,500).
Don’t fret, JFK collectors, there’s something for you in the auction, like his personally owned large beige-colored canvas duffel bag, later used by Jackie and daughter Caroline. The martyred president’s initials are monogrammed on the bag. Another tag reads “Mrs. A. Onassis” (est. $9,000-$11,000). Also, a chess set purchased for Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, by his mother when Oswald was still a teen living in New Orleans, should gavel for $20,000-$24,000.
An undated handwritten six-page letter penned by Martin Luther King, Jr., around February 1959 in India, where he was researching Ghandi’s methods of nonviolent resistance, is expected to bring $25,000-$30,000. The letter is written on Residency Guest House letterhead in Bangalore. Also, a Barack Obama handwritten letter, one of his first as president, in which he thanks his relatives in Kenya after they attended his 2009 inauguration, should hammer for $8,000-$10,000.
A rare Peter Force copperplate engraving on thin rice paper of the Declaration of Independence from 1848, 26 inches by 29 inches, with remarkably exact renditions of the signers’ hands, one of perhaps 500 produced, should hit $16,000-$20,000. Also, a single page manuscript document signed by Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella while Columbus was “sailing the ocean blue” (and, dated Sept. 15, 1492, a month before he landed), should sell for $15,000-$20,000.
Letters, manuscripts and documents signed by former U.S. Presidents are always in high demand. University Archives specializes in the category, as the following lots will attest:
- A one-page autographed letter signed by Abraham Lincoln (as “A. Lincoln”), dated Nov. 1, 1859, shortly before his Cooper-Union speech and written to H. H. Fell, a prominent Illinois attorney. The letter, in overall fine condition, has an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.
- A letter written and signed by Andrew Jackson (three pages on two conjoined sheets), dated Feb. 3, 1823, to Richard K. Call, Esq., Jackson’s Aide during the Battle of New Orleans in Jan. 1815 and now a Pensacola lawyer, in good condition (est. $7,000-$8,000).
- A two-page letter written in Feb. 1850 by Millard Fillmore (as Vice President) to Zachary Taylor (as President), regarding Taylor’s Mexican War service, as detailed in a letter to James Buchanan and referencing James K. Polk, signed by Fillmore (est. $6,000-$7,000).
A two-page movie studio contract boldly signed in Jan. 1950 by Marilyn Monroe, for her early role as the character “Polly” in the film The Fireball, co-starring Mickey Rooney and Pat O’Brien, carries an estimate of $5,000-$7,000. The document had the movie’s working title as Dark Challenge. Also, a letter written by Greta Garbo in 1960 to Hollywood hairstylist Sidney Guilaroff, in which she invites him to visit her in Switzerland, should rise to $1,000-$1,200.
A Winston Churchill archive - inclusive of his personally annotated proof for his monumental biography, Marlborough: His Life and Times (published in four parts, 1933-1938), plus a typed signed letter to C.C. Wood, chief copy editor at George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., has an estimate of $5,000-$6,000. Also, a four-page letter penned entirely in Fidel Castro’s hand on Sept. 14, 1958, just months before his “Movement” and overthrow of Batista, should command $4,000-$5,000.
A two-page document from Aug. 1918, signed three times by Harry Houdini, a contract between Houdini and a publishing company regarding a book written by one of Houdini’s idols, Angelo Lewis (aka Professor Hoffman), titled Latest Magic, Being Original Conjuring Tricks, should fetch $5,000-$6,000. Also, an archive of autograph drafts of letters and notes that reveal the business and personal side of controversial comedian Lenny Bruce, should make $4,000-$5,000.
University Archives was founded in 1979, as a division of University Stamp Company, by John Reznikoff, who started collecting stamps and coins in 1968, while in the third grade. Industry-wide, Reznikoff is considered the leading authenticity expert for manuscripts and documents. He consults with law enforcement, dealers, auction houses and both major authentication companies.
For more information about University Archives and the Tuesday, May 8th online auction, please visit www.universityarchives.com.
Image: Remarkable archive depicting Shel Silverstein’s life and career as a multi-faceted artist, filled with over 500 pages of manuscripts, poems, lyrics, sheet music, more (est. $60,000-$70,000).