Important Autographs to Watch in the June 2021 Sale

The autographs portion of the June 17, 2021 auction includes uncommonly inspiring items in nearly every major category of collecting. Below Marco Tomaschett shares a selection of highlights.


Among the Americana items is a letter from Declaration signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton writing over 20 years after the death of his friend George Washington that the General’s “great and disinterested services will be revered by every good citizen of these States to the gates of time.”

Another renown General who helped create a nation was Giuseppe Garibaldi, who wrote in 1867 the very letter in our sale, encouraging President Andrew Johnson, the members of Congress, and all Americans, to “trample underfoot every kind of individual prejudice in order to maintain intact the unity of the great Republic, the most powerful symbol of liberty in the world.”

Related Reading: Autographs & History Part I: U.S. Presidents


Leading the world in the domain of practical ideas was Thomas A. Edison, whose famous anecdotes emphasized the importance of endurance over inspiration, explaining in the 1922 letter Swann is offering that Edison and his assistants worked five days and nights without sleep so that the first phonograph would be ready to be unveiled at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.

The Arts

The master of musical theater Steve Sondheim celebrates the successful opening weeks of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in a 1962 letter also available in our sale, in which he also jokes that the title “ex-queen of television” might apply equally to Leonard Bernstein or his wife.

Among the writer autographs in the sale is an extraordinary 3-page letter from the expatriate Thomas Mann, writing to his two eldest children in 1938 about their recent book on the culture of exiles, acknowledging that “German freedom and the Weimar republic have been destroyed; we, you and I, are not altogether guiltless in that matter.”

After Picasso, it would not be easy to find a more important Spaniard in the visual arts than Joan Miró, who wrote to Ballets Russes director Serge Grigoriev in 1933 the letter that Swann has on offer, in which Miró describes some changes to be made to the costumes he designed for the ballet Jeux d’enfants, illustrated with two small sketches.

Related Reading: Autographs & History Part II: George Bernard Shaw & Enrico Caruso

In addition to these, look to the June 17 sale for excellent examples of letters, documents, photographs and other items, signed by U.S. presidents, astronauts, suffragists, labor leaders, and others.

Do you have an autograph from a historical figure we should take a look at?

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