Auctions | October 8, 2015

World Leaders and Influential Creatives Headline Swann Galleries’ October 22 Autographs Auction


New York—On October 22, 2015, Swann Galleries’ Books & Manuscripts department will offer Autographs, featuring presidential autographs, many from the Forbes Collection. Autographs by musicians and items signed by world leaders, scientists, astronauts, artists, writers and others are also featured.

The top lots of the sale are an autograph letter signed by Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy to Senator John William Clark Watson detailing the outraged reactions to his “Presidential Fast Day” proclamations, explaining that such reactions are to be expected when the (Confederate) Constitution fails to explicitly recognize Jesus Christ; and an autograph album kept by President John Quincy Adam’s niece, Abby S. Smith, containing over 40 items signed or signed and inscribed by two U.S. presidents (both estimated at $10,000 to $15,000). The album contains an autograph poem signed by John Quincy Adams, as well as an inscription signed by him. Other Americana includes an autograph letter signed by William Tecumsah Sherman, politely declining to endorse the recipient’s forthcoming book, 1865 ($2,000 to $3,000); and a letter signed “Bolivar” by Simón Bolívar as President of Venezuela to the Governor and Commander General of Guyana ($1,000 to $2,000).

Additional presidential items include a typed letter signed by Theodore Roosevelt, urging that the Legislature investigate the working conditions of certain industries that refused to recognize labor unions, 24 January, 1913 ($10,000 to $15,000); an autograph endorsement signed by Abraham Lincoln (“A. Lincoln”) as President, 29 August, 1861 ($4,000 to $6,000), as well as an autograph letter signed by his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, from the same year in October ($4,000 to $6,000); as well as several items from presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, among others.

The auction will feature several lots by influential musicians and composers, including an autograph letter signed by German composer Richard Wagner, 28 April 1853 ($7,000 to $10,000); a carte de visite portrait signed and inscribed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to librettist and poet Paul Collin, 1888 ($6,000 to $9,000); and an autograph letter signed by Johannes Brahms, 20 March, 1876 ($6,000 to $9,000).  

Two other categories of creatives featured in this sale are writers and artists. Among the artist lots are a copy of the Katalog der Wiener Kunstschau signed and inscribed by Egon Schiele, 1916 , on a plate in the catalogue Schiele has corrected the caption below a reproduction of his Levitation ($6,000 to $9,000); and a group of four items including three typed signed letters signed by Henri Matisse to MoMa Director of Exhibitions and Publications Monroe Wheeler, 1951-54 ($2,500 to $3,500). Intriguing items from writers include two typed letters signed by William Faulkner, 16-21 March, 1943 ($4,000 to $6,000); and a typed letter signed by Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, pointing out that someone impersonating her had misled the San Antonio newspaper into publishing things damaging to her reputation, 23 December, 1947 ($3,000 to $4,000).

Gandhi Letter.jpg

Rounding out the sale are items relating to world leaders and memorable public figures, including a letter signed by Mohandas K. Gandhi to Dr. John Haynes Homes, expressing surprise at the accusation of having stated that an independent India should form a military commanded by an American general, 1940 ($5,000 to $7,000); a partly-printed letter signed by diplomat and humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg as Secretary of the Royal Swedish Embassy, 31 August, 1944 ($6,000 to $9,000); and a photograph signed by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, and inscribed by Armstrong, circa 1980s ($3,000 to $4,000).

The auction preview will be open to the public, with an exhibition opening October 19 through 21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and October 22, 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated auction catalogue will be available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

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

First image: Photograph signed and inscribed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to librettist Paul Collin, 1888. Estimate $6,000 to $9,000.

Second image: Letter signed by Mohandas K. Gandhi denying that he stated that an independent India would require an army, 1940. Estimate $5,000 to $7,500.