Records & Results: Autographs

Auction Record for Mohawk Chief & 

Loyalist Joseph Brant at Swann 


Our Autographs sale on March 21 saw significant interest in Americana, scientists and popular figures. Of the sale Marco Tomaschett, the house’s autographs Specialist, noted:

“Highest prices were mostly for historical autographs, demonstrating that the broad interest in history continues.”


Joseph Brant, Thayeadanegea

A 1776 autograph letter signed by Joseph Brant, Thayeadanegea–the leader of the Mohawk people and military, and British Loyalist–writing with news after he had been in England meeting with King George III, recounting events related to the American rebels, brought $35,000, a record for a letter by Brant.


An autograph letter from Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant.
Lot 1: Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing with news after pledging support to King George III against the American rebels, 1776. Sold for $35,000, a record for a letter from Brant.


Founding Fathers

Founding Fathers proved to be popular, with a 1793 ALS by Alexander Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury, to the President and Directors of the Bank of the U.S. expressing that they will receive an appropriation for giving advances to the Mint ($12,500).


Autograph letter signed by Alexander Hamilton.
Lot 14: Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.


George Washington’s signed ticket for the Mountain Road Lottery from 1768 earned $8,450; two autograph documents signed from 1764 and 1765 concerning payment for services rendered in various lawsuits by John Adams brought $3,900; and Thomas Jefferson was present with a 1792 printed document signed, as Secretary of State, that sold for $5,000


An act of the Second Congress signed by Thomas Jefferson.
Lot 147: Thomas Jefferson, printed document signed as Secretary of State, 1792. Sold for $5,000.


U.S. Presidents

An 1875 photograph signed and dated by Ulysses S. Grant led an assortment of signatures from U.S. Presidents, earning $10,000.


Signed and dated portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
Lot 143: Ulysses S. Grant, photograph dated & signed as President, portrait by Brady, 1875. Sold for $10,000.


A partly-printed document signed by Abraham Lincoln, appointing John T. Hogeboom as Appraiser of Merchandise in April of 1864, brought $5,500, and a group of five typed letters, signed by Theodore Roosevelt from 1902-05 to his sister Corrine Roosevelt Robinson, was won for $3,380.


Document signed by Abraham Lincoln appointing John T. Hogeboom as Appraiser of Merchandise.
Lot 151: Abraham Lincoln, partly-printed document signed appointing an appraiser, 1864. Sold for $5,500.


Of British Interest

Of British interest was a group of six ALS from 1989-92 by Diana, Princess of Wales, to her friend Elizabeth Tilberis, the editor of British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as an 1884 ALS by Queen Victoria to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, expressing her sorrows over the death of her son Leopold ($10,400 and $5,750, respectively).


An autograph letter signed by Queen Victoria to Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Lot 127: Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, ALS to Alfred, Lord Tennyson upon the death of her son Leopold, 1884. Sold for $5,750.


Scientists & Inventors

Scientists and inventors were present with a 1944 ink-and-wash portrait by Charlotte Berend-Corinth of Albert Einstein, signed by the physicist, at $9,100.


Albert Einstein signed half-length portrait in ink & wash by Charlotte Berend-Corinth.
Lot 106: Albert Einstein, signed half-length portrait in ink & wash by Charlotte Berend-Corinth, 1944. Sold for $9,100.


Two offprints signed by Linus Pauling, which featured his articles The Nature of the Chemical Bond, 1931, and Ascorbic Acid and Cancer, 1979, brought $4,500, and Nikola Tesla’s 1935 signed monogrammed correspondence card sold for $4,250. 


Nikola Tesla's signature on monogrammed card.
Lot 123: Nikola Tesla, signature & date on monogrammed correspondence card, 1935. Sold for $4,250.


Group Autographs

Additional highlights included a 1950-56 guestbook for Lüchow’s–a New York City restaurant that was a popular meeting place for the city’s entertainers, artists, musicians and athletes. The book featured over 400 signatures from the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Al Hirschfeld, Grace Kelly, Joan Miró, Cole Porter, Eleanor Roosevelt and Barbara Streisand, and sold for $6,500.



Charles B. Driscoll’s personal copy of his book Doubloons, with over 500 signatures and inscriptions from the 1930s-40s, sold for $4,750. The first edition featured authors, artists, entertainer and others, including Einstein, Aldous Huxley and Thomas Wolfe’s signatures on the same page.


Complete Results.

More about selling at Swann.