Honoring Presidents Day at Bonhams& Butterfields – Massive Unpublished Reagan Archive on the Auction Block

. February 9, 2008

Fine Books & Manuscripts sale features Ronald Reagan Archive of unpublished correspondence, unseen photos and rare personal ephemera

Bonhams & Butterfields brings rare signed documents, first edition books and historic collectibles to auction on Sunday, February 17, 2008 — this sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts to be held in Los Angeles and simulcast to San Francisco. Timed to coincide with the 41st California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Los Angeles, the auction will offer bibliophiles, institutions and collectors an opportunity to view and vie for printed treasures and historical rarities.

One highlight of the auction’s Presidential section is a tremendous archive of correspondence, unpublished candid family photographs and ephemera related to former US President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004). From the personal collection Zelda Multz, president of the Ronald Reagan International Fan Club, the offering spans five decades – from the 1940s-90s – following Reagan’s career from actor to Screen Actors Guild president to California Governor to President of the United States.

With letters affectionately signed “Ronald Reagan,” “Ron” or “Dutch,” the lot features over 100 signed handwritten missives and 35 signed typed letters written from various places including Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C. Each was written to Zelda Multz, the correspondence filed in many cases with its original transmittal envelopes, many with hand annotations. The lot includes: 380 unpublished vintage snapshots of Reagan and family members, more than 300 publicity stills of Reagan, as many as 40 autographed photos, signed and inscribed Christmas cards from the Reagans, and 40-years of news clippings, magazines, promotional material and political flyers. Present also are 20 letters from Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, 28 letters from Nelle, Reagan’s mother, and several letters from Reagan’s first wife, actress Jane Wyman. The archive is expected to bring $100,000 – $150,000 on Feb. 17.

Zelda Multz first joined the Ronald Reagan Fan Club in 1944 and began correspondence with the actor that continued for nearly 50 years. Always a great communicator, Reagan writes candidly about his life, his marriage, the adoption of his son Michael (which he wished the press would not publicize), his divorce, and his work (including a particularly humiliating conversation with Jack Warner, who told him he wasn’t a “draw”). By the 1950s and ‘60s, his letters dealt more with his political awakening – discussing Communism in Hollywood, his gradual conversion to the Republican party, and his political ambitions.

A passage from January 5, 1965, reads: “Last night we listened to the State of the Union address and I had a cold feeling of fear. The promises listened so good and of course they represent goals that had been in all our dreams. It comes down to the method of achieving those goals, and underneath all the rosy promise was the sound of more and more government and less and less freedom.”

Reagan kept Ms. Multz abreast of his plans to run for California Governor, and once elected, answered her questions about the major crises of his administration — including the campus riots at University of California at Berkeley. Once Reagan began his campaign for the Presidency and was elected, the correspondence became less frequent, but did resume its frequency with warmth in his early retirement years.

According to department Director Dr. Catherine Williamson, “Reagan and his ephemera remain of great interest to fans of both his acting and political careers. This archive gives us rare insight into the private thoughts and personal feelings of the world leader who uttered the immortal words ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’.”

A scarce fragment of curtain from Ford’s Theatre is offered with a card reading “grasped by President Lincoln when assassinated in box in Ford’s Theater of Washington / April 15, 1865.” Is estimated at $2,000 to $3,000 while an unusual photograph of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States, taken in the summer of 1887 could bring $400/600. A carpet fragment taken from the Ladies waiting room at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad depot after Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau (est. $4/600) is to be offered, as well as a Presidential signed letter from John Fitzgerald Kennedy to leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate Norman Thomas regarding Nuclear testing, which could bring as much as $12,000.

Additional highlights from the 500-lot sale include: an exquisite first edition of F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby (est. $120/140,000); one of the most important World War II aviation manuscripts from World War II pilot Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, Captain of the Enola Gay (est. $100/150,000), a rare copy of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (est. $60/80,000).

Timed to coincide with the 41st California International Antiquarian Book Fair (ABAA), the sale’s preview opens early at 9am on Friday, February 15 and continues on Saturday with the sale beginning at 9am on Sunday. The illustrated catalog is online for review and purchase at www.bonhams.com

Category: Auction News

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