Remarkable Rarities 2023: The Highlights

by Brooke Kennedy

The live Remarkable Rarities auction brings a select 100 museum-quality artifacts together to form a complete treasure trove for our bidders. In past years we’ve walked the streets of Hollywood, ventured into the stratosphere, and experienced the concert of a lifetime. And, for 2023, we have curated another fantastic selection of items that you can only find at RR Auction.

Our Remarkable Rarities auction will take place at the Royal Sonesta Boston on Saturday, September 23rd at 1 pm EDT in the park view room. 

Bid on any lot simply by raising your paddle number. If you cannot attend the auction in-person you’ll still have your chance to win. When the event begins, head to to place a bid online or schedule a phone call ahead of the event – which is the best way to win. To schedule your phone call and still get the live auction experience, contact Sue Recks at [email protected] or call 800-937-3880.

American Politics

Abraham Lincoln has made frequent appearances in RR’s sales, but this lot is perhaps one of our rarest offerings yet. 

Original first edition copy of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates published in 1860. Lincoln signs the first free end page, “To N. M. Broadwell, Esq., with respects of A. Lincoln.” Photograph by RR Auction.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates is considered one of the greatest dialogues in the history of American politics. During a series of seven debates, President Abraham Lincoln and Democratic candidate Stephen A. Douglas argued about the issue of slavery during the 1858 Illinois senatorial campaign. 

“Douglas promoted the solution of popular sovereignty—that is, allowing settlers of those territories to decide on the question,” writes RR Auction in their description, “while Lincoln argued against the expansion of slavery, though was not yet advocating for its abolition in whole.”

Published a few months before Lincoln’s nomination as the Republican candidate, the book became a rapid bestseller – with over 30,000 copies sold in just a matter of months. Lincoln received 100 copies to distribute to family and friends according to historian Harry E. Pratt. In his census, he located 18 of the 100 copies, but several copies (including this one) have resurfaced since. This book also features Lincoln’s inscription in ink, as opposed to pencil in a majority of other copies. This copy’s recipient, Norma M. Broadwell, studied law as a preceptor alongside Lincoln in the Lincoln & Herndon offices in Springfield, Illinois.

“Ironically, in his first case, he found the opposing counsel to be his former teacher, Abraham Lincoln; and, in the final case that Lincoln argued in Springfield, Broadwell served as his assistant,” said RR. “He became active in Democratic politics, served as Sangamon County judge in 1862, and as mayor of Springfield in 1867. Though on different sides of the political aisle, Lincoln clearly held Broadwell and his call to civic duty in high esteem.”

Breakthroughs in Physics

Under the direction of Leslie Groves, many physicists, military, personnel, and organizers spent several years developing the first nuclear weapons. Their years-long efforts as part of the Manhattan Project resulted in the creation of the atomic bombs – leading to the end of World War II.

The three copper core tamper prototypes photographed with a document from the G. E. Nelson Company. Photograph by RR Auction.

This set of three copper core tamper prototypes were developed for the Manhattan Project in secrecy by the G. E. Nelson Company beginning mid-World War II. The spherical design of this tamper was ultimately used in the design of ‘Fat Man’ – the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan. The copper material, however, was replaced with depleted uranium to surround its plutonium core. The plutonium implosion device of the ‘Fat Man’ bomb would be tested at the ‘Trinity’ site in Mexico, marking the first-ever detonation of a nuclear weapon. 

Included with tampers is correspondence from the G. E. Nelson company relating to the creation and development of the bombs. In one document pictured above, the bombs are both mentioned by their codenames ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Little Boy.’

In addition to this, RR will offer other items from some of the pivotal figures that made the bomb possible including an Albert Einstein signed newspaper on the Hiroshima bomb, a letter by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer on Einstein’s death in 1965, and a copy of Atomic Energy in the Coming Era signed by 49 members of the Manhattan Project.

Modern Music

The talent of Jimi Hendrix introduced the world to an innovative era in hard rock, and this was perhaps best showcased in his work with The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Formed in 1966, the band, consisting of Hendrix, Noel Redding, and Mitch Mitchell, released their debut album titled Are Your Experienced in 1967 to great success. The album’s singles, “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” all became top ten hits in the UK, though they were originally omitted from the UK release of the album. Along with peaking at number two on the UK charts, Rolling Stone ranked the album 30th on their 2020 list, the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Original U.S. stereo issue of Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Each band member signs over their likenesses on the album’s back cover. Photograph by RR Auction.
Original U.S. stereo issue of Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Each band member signs over their likenesses on the album’s back cover. Photograph by RR Auction.

As a result of its influence and popularity, fully signed variants of this album are highly coveted collectors pieces. RR Auction has only ever offered two fully signed copies of Are Your Experienced previously, so this lot is sure to be popular.

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