Swann Galleries holds regular curated auctions of Autographs, offering examples by well-known scientists, world leaders and influential composers, as well as manuscripts by canonical writers and important artists. The department made history on October 25, 1988, when it offered the first Anne Frank autograph ever to come to auction; in May 2016, we sold Anne Frank’s personal signed copy of Grimm’s fairy tales to an institution for $62,500.
The top lot in the department was an autograph letter signed by Phillis Wheatley to Obour Tanner, in which she discusses the American Revolution; the letter was purchased for $253,000 in November 2005. Further highlights include a Civil War album containing a page signed by 14 U.S. Presidents, including Lincoln, which was purchased for $60,000 in November 2016; in the same sale, we sold a letter signed by Connecticut Governor Samuel Huntington to New Jersey Governor William Livingston informing him that his state had just ratified the U.S. Constitution, for $36,400. A letter by George Washington to his spymaster, Benjamin Tallmadge, requesting intelligence during the Revolutionary War, reached $40,000 in November 2017.
The department also handles collections, most notably Revolutionary Americana from the Allyn Kellogg Ford Collection, which brought over $2M in 2012, and documents from the personal files of Marlene Dietrich, including letters to the actress from Ernest Hemingway, one of which sold for $18,750 in May 2017. We accept quality consignments with an eye towards good provenance and scarcity.
NewsSee all news
2020: Year in ReviewDecember 23, 2020
Autographs by Washington, Hamilton & Hancock Bring Top Prices in November 2020 Sale of Fine Books & ManuscriptsNovember 23, 2020
The Voice & Hand of Frederick DouglassNovember 12, 2020
Department ScheduleSee Past Auctions