by Brooke Kennedy
Memorabilia connected to war continues to fascinate a great many people, including collectors who are looking to own pieces from these monumental moments. Pieces from world leaders and major battles are a must for any military buff, and RR Auction’s May 2023 Military and Cold War auction boasted over 180 lots of rare historical memorabilia that had bidders clamoring for their wallets.
This Nagasaki cathedral’s surviving church bell is an incredible surviving example from the atomic bombing on August 9, 1945. Despite the calamity, the cast bronze bell remains mostly intact, displaying dark spots and metal residue from the blast. The bell was recovered by Robert D. Stern, a veteran of the United States Marine Corp during World War II.
“I was a member of the Second Marine Division Occupational Force that landed in Nagasaki Harbor on September 23, 1945. I was aboard the USS Tyrrell which was an attack cargo ship of the United States Navy,” said Stern. “The bell in question was found by me in the ruins of a church. The church was located approximately a half mile northeast of ground zero.”
This incredible piece from one of history’s most devastating events earned a price of $40,264, quadrupling RR Auction’s projected estimate of $10,000.
This next piece comes from the historic treaty of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles. Taking place on June 28, 1919, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles solidified the peace between Germany and most of the Allied Powers during the first World War. This Treaty of Versailles pamphlet was handed out the same day as the treaty’s signing, and this copy personally belonged to Andre Tardieu, three-time Prime Minister of France. The pamphlet features the signatures of three of the Big Four Allied Leaders including American President Woodrow Wilson, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and other members who attended the treaty’s authentication. Expected to go for $16,000, this historical pamphlet more than doubled that number, selling for $38,976 at RR Auction.
In third – selling for more than $30,000 – is this incredible Joseph Stalin signed order hand drawn by his daughter. Drawn in 1934, this playful order was created by Stalin’s only daughter, Svetlana. In red and blue colored pencil Svetlana writes, “Order you to stop shooting. All 440 guns and revolvers with ammo should be moved to warehouse.” Stalin endorses this order, signing his name near the bottom in black pencil. After Stalin’s death, Svetlana would later go on to write the autobiography Twenty Letters to a Friend, where she describes her life in the Kremlin with her father during his rule.
Finishing the night in our fourth and fifth spots are a Napoleon twice signed prisoner release order and a Fialka M-125 cipher machine – which RR Auction sold for a combined value of over $43,000.
Looking to Sell?
As a world renowned auction house, RR Auction has the experience (and the buyers!) to help sell your military memorabilia for big bucks. Everything you can think of from historical documents to weaponry, RR Auction has sold it! You can reach us by phone at 800-937-3880 or by email at [email protected].
We’re seeking military consignments!
We’ll give you a free appraisal on your military items.