Auction alert: Alexander Autographs Historical Autograph & Manuscript Auction closes Wed. and Thurs., Jan. 20 and 21!
At a juncture like this, I can’t help but think it’s the ideal time to reaffirm our mission: to provide a fun, interesting, informative venue of interest to collectors in a wide range of fields. We will endeavor to do so by offering features, news and a calendar of events that will hopefully become a valuable resource in your collecting adventures.
Whereas most collector Web sites are narrow in their subject matter – focusing on toys, say, or photographs, or music boxes – we at AmeriCollector want to be more diverse: In fact, we welcome reader submissions on any collectibles subject in the form of leads, advice, comments and questions, as well as reviews of shows, exhibits and other events you have recently attended. (As we’ve indicated before, we just request that you be honest, sincere and nice; check your facts; and try to include supporting and even contrary opinions from others. Needless to say, avoid using offensive language or innuendo: We’ll only have to cut it.)
[singlepic id=137 w=320 h=240 float=left]Also, unlike dealer sites, we are not selling anything except space: While we welcome collectibles-related advertising, we will not run glowing accounts of people, businesses, auctions or events that we don’t feel comfortable with, don’t believe in or wouldn’t recommend to our own friends or family members. Of course, it’s not always possible to know in advance what an upcoming antique fair or museum exhibit is going to be like: In those cases we’ll attempt to give you a taste of what to expect through interviews with the exhibitors, organizers and others involved, then follow them up whenever possible. (Again, we also look forward to hearing about them from YOU.)
That said, let me urge my fellow autograph and memorabilia collectors to check out the Alexander Autographs 2010 Winter Historical Autograph & Manuscript Auction (viewable online at www.alexautographs.com), which will be held in two parts on Wed, Jan. 20, and Thurs., Jan. 21.
I don’t know how many people view the various collectibles auctions held by the many auction houses around the country, but I suspect that Alexander Autographs, located in Stamford, Conn., falls beneath the radar. In other words, I believe they have A LOT of interesting stuff, yet I don’t think many collectors know about them, which means less competition and more opportunities to win great items at great prices.
In fact, I suspect Alexander Autographs auctions are a magnet for other dealers, who can pick up some real bargains and then resell them to their regular clients.
(I myself have participated in two Alexander Autographs auctions, winning one lot each time, and bought about three items from their online store. In each case, even with the buyer’s premiums for the winning auction lots, I felt I got well below the going retail prices for those items.)
Some things you need to know:
• As always, you must be registered to bid, so if you aren’t already – or aren’t sure if you are – get right on it! You’re supposed to register 24 hours before the auction begins.
• Alexander Autographs has absentee bidding (where you bid in advance and hope for the best), live in-person bidding, live telephone bidding and live online bidding, if you can be at your computer when your lot numbers come up. Live bidding goes fast. My advice: Watch the bids, and if you want something bad enough, don’t balk – KEEP CLICKING: Electronics are not as instantaneous as you may think! Two auctions ago, I lost a cache of letters penned by wild-animal collector Frank “Bring ’Em Back Alive” Buck – written while on expedition in China, no less – because I hesitated five seconds.
• The minimum bid for an item is half the low estimate given in the lot description or $20, whichever is greater.
• Alexander Autographs’ live bidding is handled by an outside company (not eBay), which takes its cut: 3 percent of the hammer price. The buyer’s premium for absentee, in-person and live phone bidding is 19.5 percent; the buyer’s premium for live online bidding is 22.5 percent.
• It’s a two-part auction. Part I (lots 1 to 538) begins Wed. Jan. 20, at 10 a.m. EST; Part II (lots 539 to 1421) begins Thurs., Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. EST.
There are LOADS of treasures in this auction, at ALL PRICE POINTS. I wish I could afford to bid on any number of them, but, well, my family likes to eat sometimes. Here is a brief selection, with some few highlights …
• A great typed letter dated 1914 and signed by legendary Western lawman William “Bat” Masterson (1853–1921), written to Robert Marr Wright (1840–1915), Dodge City, Kansas. Like his compadre Masterson, Wright was a former frontiersman, Indian fighter and Dodge City pioneer; he also served a term as mayor of the town and authored the 1913 book “Dodge City: The Cowboy Capital.” The letter reads in part: “Mr. Taub was in to see me the other day and told me he has received six books from you all in good shape. Mr. Taub reads your book with much enthusiasm. He is the sort of a young man who likes that western stuff.” As any serious boxing collector knows, “Mr. Taub” was sportswriter/radio fight announcer Sam Taub (1886–1979), Masterson’s assistant at the New York Morning Telegraph. Est. $12,000 to $15,000 (no bids yet).
[singlepic id=131 w=320 h=240 float=left]• A .32 caliber bullet seized from the Barrow Gang (a.k.a. Bonnie and Clyde and Associates) in a 1933 raid in Dallas County, Texas. The description doesn’t indicate the exact circumstances under which the ammo was taken, i.e., if it was left behind or dropped or taken off one of the gang members. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, of course, were killed by police machine-gun fire in Louisiana in 1934. The slug was lost for 30 years before being found in the attic of a Dallas County deputy whose father – who had been a Dallas County deputy as well – helped Sheriff R. A. Schmid chase the gang. According to the description, “the round is ‘live’ and should be handled accordingly.” Est. $400 to $600 (now at $200).
• A signed portrait photo of Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977), 5 x 7, black-and-white. A pencil notation from the original owner on the back reads: “I received this picture [singlepic id=132 w=320 h=240 float=left]on August 23, 1919.” Small fold to top left corner, a little smearing to signature. Est. $400 to $600 (now at $400).
• Various African-American historical items. More on this subject as we move into Black History Month, but there are a number of items of African-American interest in this sale, including slave bills of sale, est. $150 to $300.
• Typed, signed document in which Michael Jackson (1958–2009) transferred the rights to “We Are the World” to United Support of Artists for Africa in 1985. The actual recording featured a veritable pantheon of pop/rock superstars: Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Smokey Robinson, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson and loads of other, lesser deities. It raised over $63 million in aid for famine-stricken Africa, was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks and won three Grammys (Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group), an American Music Award and a People’s Choice Award. The biggest-selling single of all time, it has sold 20 million copies as of last year. Est. $15,000 to $20,000.
• An original doodle of a dog with a tin can tied to its tail by Norman Rockwell (1894–1978). It’s on the first free endpaper of a first edition of “Norman Rockwell: Illustrator” by Arthur L. Guptill (1946), above an inscription that reads: “My very best wishes to The Lenox Library, Sincerely, Norman Rockwell.” The description indicates that the artist’s wife, Molly, taught at the library, located only five miles from The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. Est. $2,000 to $3,000 (no bids yet).
• Two documents (separate lots) signed by the Sun King, Louis XIV (1638–1715). Yeah, THAT Louis, of the trendsetting duds and the wild parties. These are untranslated: Maybe Louis was just cancelling his newspaper subscriptions, but try out your high school French on them and see. Both are small folio (about legal-size). One, signed in Versailles in 1687, has a damp stain on Louis’ signature, but it still looks good and is estimated to sell for $400 to $600 and is at $260 at this writing; the other, signed in St. Germain-en-Laye in 1670, has just a little bit of foxing on the edges and is estimated to go for $500 to $600 and is now at $320.
• An official 1930 New York Yankees Major League baseball autographed on the sweet spot by Babe Ruth (1895–1948) and by Lou Gehrig (1903–1941) on the opposite side. In addition to the Bambino and the Iron Horse, the ball’s signed by Lefty Gomez, Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri and twenty other players. The Babe’s signature is rated 4/10, and the ball comes with a certificate of authenticity from PSA/DNA, authenticator to major auction houses. Est. $4,000 to $5,000 (now at $3,750). This is one of three Ruth-signed balls in this auction.
All images courtesy of Alexander Autographs, www.AlexAutographs.com