On Wednesday, June 17, Spink Smythe will hold its first Autograph Auction, bringing the finest in historical autographs to a truly international market.
Manhattan, New York – On Wednesday, June 17, Spink Smythe will hold its first Autograph Auction, bringing the finest in historical autographs to a truly international market after the acquisition of RM Smythe by Spink this past March. Smythe has long enjoyed a reputation for quality, service, and integrity as an auctioneer of autographs, Americana, and other collectibles, characteristics that have been associated with Spink, headquartered in London, for over 300 years.
In keeping with its international scope, Spink Smythe’s auction features an unmatched collection of letters of state signed by world royalty and heads of state from the 19th to the 21st century. Letters of state are among the most desired documents because of their importance and rarity on the market. This collection includes, among many others, letters from Fidel Castro of Cuba; Nicholas II of Russia; England’s Victoria I (announcing the birth of her son, Prince Arthur, later Duke of Connaught); Edward VIII of England (a rare document from his single year as king!); Chulalongkorn of Siam (plus a letter from his successor, Vajiravudh, announcing his succession on Chulalongkorn’s death); Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary; Karl I of Austria-Hungary, announcing Franz Joseph’s death; Japanese emperors from Mutsuhito to Akihito; Wilhelm II of Germany; and scores more. Another rare world leader present is Josef Stalin, who is present in the form of a typed order signed during the Battle of Moscow in which the Soviet leader reorganizes the command structure of tank divisions!
Also offered will be a choice selection of artists’ letters from such immortals as Monet, Manet, Whistler, Picasso, Matisse, and Braque. Each is framed with a print of one of the artist’s works. Included in the collection are original signed drawings by novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, cartoonist Thomas Nast, and illustrator Charles Dana Gibson.
Spink Smythe will also continue to offer the best in American autographs. One of the most important items in the sale is a lengthy autograph letter from 1772 signed twice in the body by George Washington with his full name, “Colo. George Washington,” a rare form for him. The historic letter lists all the volunteers who served with him on his first independent command, when he led the so-called Virginia Regiment into French territory and touched off the American theater of the French and Indian War! Washington records a council resolution favoring the payment to the volunteers of a land bounty promised to them by the province of Virginia. The letter is estimated at $30,000-40,000.
Other founders present in the sale include Signers of the Declaration Thomas Jefferson, William Ellery, Elbridge Gerry, John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, Thomas McKean (also signed by Declaration engrosser Timothy Matlack!), Robert Morris, George Ross, and James Wilson. Leading advocates of the US Constitution Alexander Hamilton (ordering supplies to put down the Whiskey Rebellion!) and James Madison are represented, as is Hamilton’s fatal rival, Aaron Burr. From the revolutionary era are also King George III, Lord North, General Charles Cornwallis, early English supporter of the colonies Edmund Burke, and Admiral Samuel Hood.
Continuing in its tradition as the top source of financial collectibles, Spink Smythe’s autograph sale features rarities from history’s great industrialists and financiers. A mortgage document from 1868 bears the oldest autograph of John D. Rockefeller that we have seen, and is estimated at $3000-4000. The sale also includes stocks signed by Henry Flagler, J. P. Morgan, Collis P. Hungington and Leland Stanford, as well as a letter signed by Morgan, Jacob Schiff, and educator Nicholas Murray Butler, sending an invitation to a lecture on Russian famine relief. One rare stock certificate is signed by Confederate hero Nathan Bedford Forrest, and is estimated at $2000-3000.
The sale also includes scarce early autograph documents signed by Cornelius Vanderbilt and by John Jacob Astor.
This auction also boasts several rarities in the category of science, medicine, and invention. In addition to inventors like Edison, Steinmetz, Wright, and De Forest, there is a scarce autograph letter from Samuel Hahnemann, father of homeopathy, asking a colleague to help foster the “benign cause;” an autograph letter by Michael Faraday while working for the Royal Institution; and a letter from the father of the computer, Charles Babbage, on the rules of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. One extremely desirable piece is a large photograph signed by Sigmund Freud in 1925, the largest and boldest signature on a signed image of his that we have seen.
In addition to these highlights will be the usual quality assortment of artists, writers, composers, military and political leaders, great thinkers, and performers that have long been associated with Smythe’s auctions, and will continue to be so now that it is part of Spink. The auction will begin at 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 18 at Spink’s Shreve’s Galleries, at 145 W. 57th Street, 18th Floor, in Manhattan. Prospective bidders can arrange to lot view or participate in the sale by calling Spink Smythe at 800-622-1880.
Accredited media interested in scheduling an interview to discuss this release or past or upcoming auctions are encouraged to contact Mary Herzog at 212-943-1880