Bonhams Presents Historic WWII Artifacts to Honor 70th Anniversary of D-Day

New York—Bonhams, the third largest international fine art auction house, will present a historic sale of rare and important material related to World War II on June 5 at its Madison Avenue salesroom. Timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the 1944 Normandy Landings, or “D-Day,” the sale features 350 lots, including important manuscripts, famous photographs, crucial wartime technology, authentic weaponry, personal mementos and battlefield souvenirs. Taken together, the offerings paint a vivid picture of the 20th century war that forever changed the course of human history. 

The sale, presented in two sessions, will address WWII in its entirety by tackling both the geographic and political complexities. The morning session will focus on the European Theater and North African campaigns. Extraordinary relics will be offered from the period’s most important places and events, including Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the war of the Atlantic, the Italian campaigns, the Russian front, D-Day and the resistance in Holland and France. Highlights include a German Army Enigma enciphering machine (est. $50,000-80,000) and several lots of memorabilia related to the British Flying Ace Douglas Bader (estimates from $5,000-20,000). Among a broad selection of D-Day material are an important D-Day flown flag from an American LST-493, one of a handful of surviving flags flown from D-Day ships (est. $12,000-18,000), and a series of the hourly bulletins of D-Day action from “The Dow Jones Hourly News Digest” (est. $12,000-18,000).

The afternoon session will be devoted to the Pacific Theater. It will open with items related to Pearl Harbor and will continue with relics from the American island-hopping campaigns, the China-Burma-India campaigns, the dropping of the atomic bombs and the signing of the peace treaty on the U.S.S. Missouri. Highlights include the declaration of war on America and Britain by Japan that happened after Pearl Harbor (est. $12,000-18,000); the Rosenthal Iwo Jima flag raising photograph sent from Associated Press Guam to San Francisco (est. $50,000-80,000); U.S. President Harry Truman’s signed Hiroshima speech (est. $28,000-38,000); and a collection of 24 photographs, after Yosuke Yamahata, of The Bombing of Nagasaki (est. $25,000-35,000). 

“Every object in the June 5 WWII sale has an incredible story to tell,” marveled Tom Lamb, Bonhams’ business development director for the books and manuscripts department in New York. “They bear witness to the war’s unparalleled turmoil, and testify to the bravery of many individuals as well as entire nations. Presenting the sale on the eve of the 70th anniversary of D-Day is a way of honoring this momentous day and recognizing the tragic losses on all sides,” he added.

The WWII sale will take place at Bonhams New York, located at 580 Madison Avenue, (56th-57th Streets), New York, NY 10022. It will preview there from May 31-June 5. Please call 212-644-9001 for hours and appointments. To view the sale’s catalog, please visit

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