The 225-lot auction is already online and will go live on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 10:30 am EDT.

WESTPORT, Conn. – Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Davy Crockett will all have one thing in common on Tuesday, September 26th at 10:30 am Eastern time. That’s when all four – and a parade of other past luminaries – will make an appearance in University Archives’ online-only auction of rare autographs, documents, manuscripts, books and relics.

The catalog is already up and ready for viewing, at September 26th is when the auction will go live, on the internet bidding platform The 225-lot auction is packed with important, scarce and highly collectible signed documents and other items relating to some of the most revered and influential names in United States and world history.

“This auction has lots that show the range of our offerings, with such diverse names as Neil Armstrong, Ben Gurion, Harry Houdini and Marilyn Monroe,” said John Reznikoff, the founder and president of University Archives based in Westport. “The Founding Fathers are in demand, too. We’ve got four George Washington lots, two Ben Franklin lots and one Thomas Jefferson.”

But the present day is represented as well. Significant items from modern day presidents such as George W. and George H. W. Bush, as well as Barack Obama, show that the political side of the catalog overall represent the ‘bookends’ of American history. One of the expected top lots, in fact, is a presidential two-fer: a letter written by George W. Bush to Barack Obama, all torn up.

A bit of explanation: In January 2009, outgoing President Bush wrote a congratulatory letter to President-elect Obama (as is presidential custom), in which he warned, “As you lead, you will be tested. You will be criticized. You will be second guessed.” It was a first draft, close to the final letter, but not perfect so Bush tore it into four pieces. An alert valet retrieved it from the trash (with Bush’s full knowledge and consent). Now it’s up for bid. The final letter is considered by many as one of the best and most important letters ever written from one president to another.

Going back a little further in time, Ronald Reagan’s personally owned (and very large) designer hall bench, previously housed in his and Nancy’s home in Bel Air, California, is in the sale. The 10-foot-long bench, which comfortably can seat six, also comes with a matching mirror, satin pillows and a statement of provenance from Christie’s, which offered it in a previous auction.

The George Washington lot #214 is more typical of something one might find in an auction with presidential memorabilia: a signed letter dated March 24, 1781, in which Washington elevates Lt. Col. Adam Hubley, a Rev-War hero and contributor to the Declaration of Independence. The letter is matted and framed and includes a lovely hand-painted engraved portrait of Washington.

Davy Crockett was a fighter, not a signer, so anything with his autograph is automatic gold to collectors. The item up for bid is Crockett’s signature with a faint remnant of a free frank stamp. It’s matted, framed and glazed. The signature was found in an 1830s album kept by the wife of an officer in the Black Hawk War, in which both men fought. It may have been cut from a letter.

A handsome framed single-page letter hand-written and signed by Thomas Jefferson and dated “Monticello Apr. 18.26” will come under the gavel, nicely presented in a blue suede matte and framed together with an engraved portrait of Jefferson. In the letter, Jefferson seeks restitution from some of the massive debt he incurred during his famous but financially troubled lifetime.

First Lady fans will be mesmerized by the deep chocolate brown leather correspondence folder signed and inscribed by May Todd Lincoln to Henry Fowler, a childhood friend of her son Tad’s, dated June 14, 1867. The folder is embossed in a diamond grid with gilt ruling and has accordion pockets, note paper and tilts to the pockets written in French. Mrs. Lincoln spoke fluent French.

A single page letter hand-written by Benjamin Franklin, dated April 25, 1745 and signed “B Franklin”, was penned while Franklin was Postmaster of Philadelphia, a post he’d held since 1937. Under Franklin, Philadelphia became the center of the postal system of the colonies. The letter is nicely framed and matted and comes with a hand-painted engraved portrait of Franklin.

Who was more famous: Harry Houdini or Marilyn Monroe? Answer: both. The sale includes a rare stock certificate signed “Harry Houdini” as president of the Houdini Picture Corporation, dated May 12, 1922; and a typed contract from 1952 signed by Marilyn Monroe (as “Marilyn Monroe”) in which the young starlet enters into a contract to appear in Jantzen swimwear ads.

There are several Mormon Church-related lots in the auction, including a Perpetual Emigration Fund receipt from 1853, regarding women traveling alone, clerically signed by Erastus Snow, a Mormon leader and missionary. Also sold will be an historically important letter hand-written by Admiral Nelson, dated May 20, 1803, just two days after taking command of the HMS Victory.

John Reznikoff started collecting in 1968, while in the third grade, and in 1979 he formed the company he runs today, University Archives, a division of University Stamp Co. Industry-wide, Reznikoff is considered the leading authenticity expert for manuscripts and documents and he consults with law enforcement, dealers, auction houses and both major authentication companies.

For more information about University Archives and the Tuesday, September 26th auction, visit

Ronald Reagan’s personally owned (and very large) designer hall bench, with a matching mirror, satin pillows and a statement of provenance from Christie’s.