Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Items signed by Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, others are in University Archives’ April 19 auction

The Rare Signed Manuscripts, Books, Photos & Relics, Signers of the Declaration & Sports auction will start at 11 am Eastern and features signed items in many collecting categories.

WILTON, Conn. – A handwritten note twice signed by Abraham Lincoln just days before winning the 1864 presidential election, ship’s papers from 1794 signed by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and a 1748 handwritten note signed by Benjamin Franklin are a few of the expected highlights in University Archives’ next online-only auction slated for Wednesday, April 19th.

The auction – Rare Signed Manuscripts, Books, Photos & Relics, Signers of the Declaration & Sports – will start promptly at 11 am Eastern time. In honor of the 248th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in the American Revolution, the catalog will feature over 55 lots of material autographed by Declaration of Independence signers.

All 413 lots in the catalog are up for viewing and bidding now (on the University Archives website:, as well as, and Telephone and absentee bids will be taken, but there’s no live gallery bidding. The sale represents United States presidents from George Washington all the way to Joe Biden.

“Other items include historical documents and relics, rare books, large vintage photographs and memorabilia highlighting the best in U.S. presidential, early American, science, sports, aviation and space, international, Judaica, literature, art, music and entertainment,” said John Reznikoff, president and owner of University Archives. “This is a great collecting and buying opportunity.”

Lincoln penned a cheerful note to an unidentified young man, probably his eldest son Robert, on the cusp of the 1864 presidential election. Lincoln wrote: “Bravo! my good boy. Whether Mr. L. shall be re-elected or not, he feels sure that you will stick to the cause of the country. A. Lincoln”. Lincoln’s use of the third person is rare but not without precedent. The note should fetch $40,000-$50,000.

Sitting President George Washington and future president Thomas Jefferson boldly signed three-language ship’s papers for a Martinique-bound schooner on June 6, 1794. The combination of such signatures on a document like this is outstanding, as is the size of each massive signature: 4 inches for Washington’s and 2 ½ inches for Jefferson. The pre-sale estimate is $20,000-$30,000.

Lot 221 is one of two superb Benjamin Franklin signed items up for bid. The note is signed and dated June 15, 1748, the same year Franklin turned down a colonelcy and instead enlisted in the Pennsylvania militia. The letter is believed to be addressed to Andrew Pepperrell, the son of Sir William Pepperrell, the commander of British Army forces at Louisburg (est. $18,000-$24,000).

Lot 405 is a first edition, first printing hardcover copy of Jackie Robinson’s biography, Wait Till Next Year, which he co-wrote with Carl T. Rowan, dedicated to him on the front loose end paper, in part as: “5-20-60 / To Carl with best wishes and thanks for all you did to help (make) Wait Till Next Year a success. Your participation helped us very much…” Rowan covered current events relating to the Civil Rights movement and later became America’s first Black syndicated columnist (est. $18,000-$20,000).

Science and technology items continue to perform extremely well at auction. Thomas Edison signed a contract around 1880 in Bolivia for a light bulb design first successfully tested in the United States on October 21, 1879. Edison’s international patents often duplicated existing U.S. patents and protected the inventor’s interests abroad. The contract should hit $14,000-$18,000.

Albert Einstein signed and inscribed a charming photograph of himself dressed in yachting clothes to Dr. Max Heimann in December 1935. The photo testifies to the physicist’s love of sailing, which often led him into near catastrophe, like running aground and nearly drowning. The photo, accompanied by a PSA/DNA letter of authenticity, should realize $9,000-$12,000.

On to sports, where lot 406 is a vintage photograph of early baseball legends Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, John McGraw, Gabby Street, Christy Walsh and Nick Altrock, signed by all six along the bottom. The photo was taken at the 1931 World Series game between the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals. The 8 inch by 10 inch photo carries an estimate of $10,000-$12,000.

Lot 413 is a bloodied and battered white Montreal Canadiens jersey belonging to Bob Gainey, worn by him during the 1978-1979 NHL season, playoffs, and Stanley Cup finals, graded MEARS A10. The jersey is described as showing “heavy use” and has washed out bloodstains, stick and slash marks, board and friction burn holes and “overall trauma” (est. $6,000-$7,000).

A vintage Ewing & Harris gelatin silver photograph of Teddy Roosevelt, signed by the president in the last few months of his second term, is truly gargantuan, housed in a frame measuring 15 ½ inches by x 23 inches overall. The photo was previously on display at the Krainik Gallery of Vintage Photographs and was once auctioned by Christie’s. It’s expected to reach $7,000-$8,000.

There are eight lots dedicated to John F. Kennedy, including a typed signed letter, on White House stationery, dated Oct. 9, 1963 and written to astronaut Gordon Cooper, with space content. The letter reads, in part, “I am delighted with the personalized album covering the highlights of the MA-9 (Mercury-Atlas 9) space flight….” (est. $4,000-$5,000).

A huge architectural drawing by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the Louis B. Fredrick House of Barrington Hills, Illinois, is expected to bring $6,000-$7,000. The drawing, pencil-signed and dated by Wright (as “FLW / April / 55”), is all hand-drawn and hand-ruled in pencil and represents one of Wright’s last Usonian designs. Unrolled, it measures 35 ½ inches by 23 ¾ inches.

The 37 Declaration of Independence signers represented in the April sale include John and Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock and rare signer Arthur Middleton. Some signers are represented by multiple lots. An autograph letter signed “John Hancock” as Governor of Massachusetts, dated Sept. 28, 1788 was written to a Valley Forge veteran in the Northwest Territory, recommending a young Revolutionary War officer who would be killed three years later at the Battle of Wabash. It should garner $6,000-$7,000.

University Archives has become world-renowned as a go-to source for rare items of this kind. It is actively seeking quality material for future auctions, presenting a rare opportunity for sellers. Anyone who has a single item or a collection that may be a fit for a future University Archives auction may call John Reznikoff at 203-454-0111, or email him at [email protected].

University Archives was founded in 1979, as a division of University Stamp Company, by John Reznikoff, who started collecting stamps and coins in 1968, while in the third grade. Industry-wide, Reznikoff is considered the leading authenticity expert for manuscripts and documents. He consults with law enforcement, dealers, auction houses and both major authentication companies.

University Archives’ new offices are located at 88 Danbury Rd. (Suite 2A) in Wilton, Conn. For more information about University Archives and the online-only Rare Signed Manuscripts, Books, Photos & Relics, Signers of the Declaration & Sports auction on Wednesday, April 19th, at 11 am Eastern time, please visit Updates posted frequently.

An autograph note signed by Benjamin Franklin, one of two signed Franklin items up for bid, dated June 15, 1748, the year Franklin rejected a colonelcy and enlisted in the Pennsylvania militia (est. $18,000-$24,000).