by Brooke Kennedy
RR Auction’s October Fine Autographs auction presented bidders with lots in over 25 categories, and this month’s top sellers presented a diverse mix of genres. Many lots exceeded their original estimates and our consignors’ expectations by the auction’s closing.
One of the highest priced and most important presidential documents from this auction comes from President Dwight Eisenhower with a total sale price of $16,500. In this handwritten manuscript dated June 19, 1959, Eisenhower writes his statement regarding the rejection of his appointee for Secretary of Commerce, Lewis Strauss.
“Last night the Senate refused to confirm the nomination as Secretary of Commerce of Lewis Strauss—a man who in war and in peace has served his nation loyally, honorably and effectively, under four different Presidents,” wrote Eisenhower. “I am losing a truly valuable associate in the business of government. More than this—if the nation is to be denied the right to have as public servants in responsible positions men of his proven character, ability and integrity, then indeed it is the American people who are the losers through this sad episode.”
Aside from his contributions under several presidencies, Strauss served as a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, effectively shaping the United States’s nuclear policy. However his career was not without controversy, as he was the driving force behind Oppenheimer’s prosecution and subsequent security clearance revocation in 1954. As a result of his less-than-stellar reputation, Strauss’s Senate nomination failed with a vote of 46-49, putting an end to his career in government.
Before making his breakthrough in Hollywood, Bruce Lee began his professional life as a martial arts instructor when he was just a teenager. In 1960, Lee introduced his first martial arts school, the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, in Seattle, Washington where he would teach friends his techniques. As students, they would also receive membership cards that featured their personal information that Lee would sign. Several of these cards have survived and have become popular auction offerings, including this one that sold for $14,373, featuring Lee’s bold signature as well as that of Taky Kimura.
The 36 year-old Kimura first met Lee when he was just 18 years old, and he would eventually become a certified instructor in Jun Fan Gung Fu. When Lee moved to Oakland, California in 1964, Kimura was appointed as the head instructor of the Seattle location. Though Lee was miles away, he would still sign membership cards and send them to Kimura who would fill them out and distribute them to new members. RR Auction has successfully sold several examples of these cards featuring the signature of the martial arts icon for great prices.
The Original ‘Apple’ Orchard
Though Steve Jobs is closely tied to Silicon Valley, he came of age in Oregon when he enrolled at Reed College in 1972. Though he had to drop out of school after six months to help preserve his parents’ money, he hung around campus to help audit creative courses on Shakespeare, calligraphy, and dance. It was there he met and befriended the undergraduate student body president Robert Friedland.
“Friedland served as the caretaker of an apple orchard south of Portland near McMinnville—the largest city in Yamhill County—which he turned into a commune called All One Farm,” according to RR Auction’s description. “Jobs spent a great deal of time at the commune, and numerous accounts (including one from Steve Wozniak), attribute Apple Computer’s name to Jobs’s time working in the Yamhill County orchard.”
Three years after the founding of Apple computer, Jobs sought to purchase land at the compound that became the inspiration for the tech-defining company. And thanks to the success of the Apple II, Jobs was able to make that a reality. This contract dated 1979 shows Steve Jobs’s agreement to the sale of “certain real premises situated in Yamhill County, Oregon,” for $150,000. Since he wasn’t in the habit of signing autographs, any item with Steve Jobs’s signature is extremely valuable, with this rare association piece realizing $13,791.
2023 has been a huge year for RR Auction, and in 2024 we only expect our business to grow. Join us for our upcoming January and February Fine Autographs and Artifacts auctions and our first Olympic Memorabilia auction of 2024. You can give our team a call at 800-937-3880 or get a free estimate on your items by clicking the button below.
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