by Brooke Kennedy
On September 23, 2023, RR Auction brought the best of the best to our bidders with the annual Remarkable Rarities event. Featuring 100 curated lots, bidders could explore those influential moments in modern human culture from the drafting of the Constitution to the debut of the first iPhone.
Taking place at Boston’s Royal Sonesta Hotel, bids poured in from every corner of the world as bidders joined us in-person, online, and over the phone.
Man on the Moon
Sold for $375,000, this cuff checklist is a scarce piece from the final Apollo mission. Gene Cernan’s cuff checklist saw extensive lunar activity, being worn for around 7 hours and 12 minutes during the first EVA of the Apollo 17 mission. Look closely at its pages and you can still find streaks of lunar dust.
It was during this very mission that Cernan exclaimed as he took his first step onto the moon with this checklist strapped to wrist, “I’m on the footpad. And, Houston, as I step off at the surface at Taurus-Littrow, we’d like to dedicate the first step of Apollo 17 to all those who made it possible.”
The list displays a comprehensive guide for that mission’s entire extravehicular activity including preparation procedures and maps. You can even spot some cartoon astronaut dogs performing their own lunar excursions, including the iconic character Snoopy.
“EVA1 was a high level work period. The cuff checklist reflects that by being completely smothered with lunar dust,” said Cernan in his letter of provenance. “I have kept this cuff checklist as a memento of my time on the Moon at the Valley of Taurus-Littrow after NASA returned it to me in 1973.”
Beyond its rich history and provenance, this checklist came displayed in a museum-quality custom case with an engraving in the aluminum platform.
An Evening Performance
Though they had tickets to ‘Our American Cousin’ at Washington D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre, two playgoers had a front row seat to one of history’s well known tragedies – Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Two tickets stamped April 14, 1865 were among RR’s featured lots this year, two of only three used tickets known to RR Auction to be in existence. The other – which also features that same stamp – is part of Harvard University’s collection.
“The Harvard stub, which consists of just the left half of the ticket, is the only other used April 14th Ford’s Theatre ticket known to still exist,” said CBS 42. “With similar seat assignments filled out in pencil and a stamp placed identically to the ones on the tickets auctioned off Saturday.”
These two tickets from that evening help paint a picture of what these two playgoers witnessed. Seated in section D in seats 41 and 42, the playgoers would have sat in the dress circle’s front row, giving them a perfect view of Booth as he jumped from Lincoln’s box to make his escape.
Originally auctioned at Christie’s as part of the Forbes collection in 2002 where they sold for $83,650, Remarkable Rarities 2023 was the first time they had been to auction in two decades. Bidding began at $60,000 during the live auction, with bids climbing until they realized a price of $262,500.
The Nuclear Age
The building of the atomic bomb has received renewed interest with the release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. The film brought several key figures to the screen including Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and – of course – Robert Oppenheimer. Those who have a keen interest in this topic were treated to several Manhattan Project artifacts, which included a one-of-a-kind chronicle of those involved.
Signed by many major players of the Manhattan Project, this impressive collection of signatures found in a copy of Atomic Energy in the Coming Era ended the auction with a price of $162,500. Along with familiar names like Einstein and Oppenheimer, signatures from the Enola Gay crew and 14 Nobel Prize winners can be found when flipping through the pages. The original owner, Kenneth Crouch, was an amateur historian along with being an autograph collector.
According to Bertrand Russell’s ‘The Bomb and Civilization,’ “From the scientific point of view, the atomic bomb embodies the results of a combination of genius and patience as remarkable as any in the history of mankind.”
Boarding the Titanic
Like the ship it originated from, this Titanic key attracted much attention from bidders who brought the selling price to an impressive $131,250. Working aboard as a crew member, saloon steward Alfred Arnold Deeble assisted first-class passengers in the dining saloon as they enjoyed elegant meals to the sounds of a soothing orchestra.
When the rescue ship, CS Mackay Bennett, pulled the body of Deeble from the icy waters of the Atlantic, found on his person was a rusty key with a metal tag labeled ‘pantryman.’ After his burial with other Titanic victims in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Deeble’s sister, Lily, wrote to the White Star Line requesting the effects retrieved from his body. Since their return, the key has remained in the family for four generations.
At the end of the day, RR Auction’s Remarkable Rarities achieved a total sales figure of $4,059,063. Head to part two of our recap where we discuss our record-breaking sales of books by Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.
Though our biggest live event of the year has ended, there is still time to bring your pieces to auction before the end of 2023. Consign your items to our December and January Fine Autographs and Artifacts auctions or our upcoming Olympic Memorabilia auction – the first of 2024. Head to the link below to submit your lots or contact our team at 800-937-3880.
We’re seeking autograph consignments!
We want to discover your rare and remarkable pieces.