The summer is notoriously slow for autographs, even in good times, so with the recession still in full-bloom, few had high hopes for season sales. But University Archives reports that the high-end autograph market is alive and well. So well that the firm is experiencing one of its best years ever.
"In June we sold with Seth Kaller Inc., a Lincoln manuscript collection, The Unique Abraham Lincoln, for just under our $1,650,000 asking price," reports John Reznikoff, president of University Archives. "We only first offered it in April." The collection included two leaves from Lincoln’s last State of The Union address; one not known to exist for over 145 years. The first known writings of Lincoln, written when he was just a teenager, a rare sum book page and other pieces were also included. Read
the April 7, 2011 article.
"In August we sold perhaps the most famous Robert E. Lee letter extant, where he explained to his brother why he resigned his U. S. Army commission to later lead the Confederate forces," Reznikoff continues. "It didn't sell in a recent Sotheby’s auction, where it was
estimated at$400,000-$600,000. We received the newly discovered letter and placed it with a private client in a matter of weeks."
In September, University Archives sold what they called, "probably the most important Supreme Court item ever offered": Justice John McLean’s draft of his dissenting opinion in the Dred Scott Decision. Dred Scott v. Sandford was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that people of African descent brought into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants, slaves or not, were not protected by the Constitution and could never be U.S. citizens. It ultimately led to the Civil War.
“This is a trend that my colleagues and I in the historic autograph market see getting stronger and stronger," Reznikoff says. "We sell items for as little as a few hundred dollars, but premiere items are moving very swiftly these days. It seems
that wealthy collectors feel that tried and true collectibles are a safer haven than the jittery stock and real estate markets.”