Fine Books & Autographs: March 2, 2023 Auction Highlights

Lot 105: George Washington, Autograph Letter Signed, as President, selling a plot of land, New York, 1790. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.

Our March 2 Fine Books & Autographs sale will feature an outstanding selection of presidential autographs, including clipped signatures and signed letters by George Washington. More than three items are signed by George Washington including an autograph letter from 1790 in which he discusses the character of prospective buyers of the land he intends to sell, a payroll for the Potomac Company, signed in 1785 when he was the company’s president, and two letters from the Revolutionary War. Additional presidential material includes an autograph endorsement signed by Abraham Lincoln in which he grants freedom to a group of captured Confederates, a selection of items signed by William Henry Harrison, collections of White House cards, visiting cards, checks, and franking signatures.

Bidders will have the opportunity to explore material from visionaries, including a signed and inscribed photograph of Walt Disney speaking to a leprechaun from his film Darby O’Gill and the Little People, a selection of autographed letters signed by Paul Gauguin and Joan Miró, and several complete archives of letters by Pierre Auguste Renoir and Thomas Hart Benton.

We are pleased to offer a copy of a book about the long-running television show American Bandstand signed by Dick Clark and over 100 musicians and performers who appeared on the program. Aficionados of classical music can find the autograph musical quotation of a version of the “Happy Birthday” song signed by Toscanini, or an autograph letter signed by Richard Wagner.

Among the writers is an autograph statement signed by Hart Crane describing what is to be done with his remains after his death, a letter signed by Ernest Hemingway describing the summer that inspired his essay “The Dangerous Summer” as “the best time I ever had”, and a collection of autograph letters signed by Charles Beaudelaire and George Sand.

The auction offers other areas of interest including a signature by Babe Ruth on a small card, as well as a check signed by Jackie Robinson. There are also outstanding examples from royals, inventors, and scientists.

Lot 131: Dick Clark & Ray Smith, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Signed throughout by over 100 musicians & others from the show, New York, 1997. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.
At Auction March 2: left: Lot 47: Babe Ruth, signature on a small card, in purple ink. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000; right: Lot 129: Arturo Toscanini, Autograph Musical Quotation Signed & Inscribed, his version of the “Happy Birthday” song, 1949. Estimate $700 to $1,000.

Related Reading

Desirable nineteenth and twentieth century high-spots abound: canonical firsts from Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf all feature. A notable worthy of mention is Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep, bearing a presentation inscription to his sister Rose. 

Collectors will also find a strong selection of fine press books; Eric Gill’s limited edition of The Four Gospels among them, fine bindings from Kelliegram and various Continental examples. Children’s titles include a signed copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the first Mickey Mouse appearance in book form. Among the art and illustrated books is Robert Indiana’s Numbers, one of 35 Artist Proofs, sourced from his own collection, a rare and important Spanish translation of Karl Marx’s El Capital, and the first fully illustrated book-length edition of Clement Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas.

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