by Brooke Kennedy
Our Fine Autographs and Artifacts auction boasted a wide selection of signed photographs, letters, and signatures from some of history’s greats going as far back as the 1500s. Bidding for this auction opened on February 17 and closed on March 8, 2023. Our highest sellers of the evening included founding fathers and history makers.
Top Sellers of the Evening
The highest priced item in the autograph auction was a Ben Franklin signed document ordering a loan to support Pennsylvania’s new currency which was auctioned for $39,928. This document dated December 6, 1785, was autographed while Franklin was serving as president of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council. This exceedingly important document references an important moment in postwar history. Pennsylvania was the first state to push through paper money in March 1785 by an act referenced in this very document. “It’s an important document prominently signed by the influential founding father,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive Vice President at RR Auction.
Next we move from founding fathers to first time flyers, Wilbur and Orville Wright. This ultra-rare signed postcard featuring the Wright Brothers standing side-by-side fetched a winning bid of $30,819. This original postcard is dated May 1, 1909, six years after Orville first flew the airplane while Wilbur ran beside him. At the bottom of their photograph their cursive signatures are visible in bold ink. This postcard was likely signed during a Paris trip the Wright brothers embarked on in early 1909. At an honorary banquet on May 1st, the brothers were honored with a bronze trophy symbolizing the Muse of Aviation on behalf of the Aero Club of Sarthe, where the famous brothers likely signed this postcard.
Moving a short distance, our third highest seller takes us from the city of France to Great Britain where King Henry VII was writing to the King of Castile and Granada. This letter signed in French was written to the King Philip of Castile regarding future Queen Catherine of Aragon’s dowry. Catherine of Aragon was betrothed to King Henry VII’s heir, Prince Henry VIII at the time this was written in 1506. However, the marriage would not be official unless the second installment of her dowry would be available in London. King Henry VII wrote this letter to King Philip of Castille in hopes that he would put pressure on Ferdinand V of Aragon to supply her dowry. Unfortunately, the matter of her dowry would not be resolved for several years—Catherine finally married Henry VIII after he ascended the throne in 1509. This letter took the third spot, realizing a sum of $27,164.
Along with our top three items some honorable mentions from this auction include a handwritten and autographed letter by Abraham Lincoln to Attorney General Edward Bates for $18,750, a 1776 signature from Declaration signer Lyman Hall for $13,589, and a document signed by French Queen Marie Antoinette authorizing payment to the court’s Writing Master for $12,353.
Have Any Pieces of History You’d Like to Sell?
RR Auction is always seeking consignments related to history and other categories including but not limited to pop culture, space, animation, music, technology, and sports. If you have anything you’d like to sell, consider consigning it with RR Auction. You can reach us by telephone at 800-937-3880.
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Have any historical pieces you’re looking to sell? Consider consigning it to RR Auction!