Five for Friday: Rare Artifacts from American Literature

The scope of American Literature encompasses more than just the books written by our most famous American authors; it also includes the personal artifacts belonging to these authors that give insight into their personal lives. Our September 14 Rare Books Signature Auction offers meaningful and unusual lots from these American authors that provides a deeper historical understanding into the category of American Literature.

1.  Design and Production Archive for the Golden Record attached to both NASA Voyager Spacecraft

Jon Lomberg was a design director for NASA’s Voyager Project back in the 1970s. Tucked inside his private papers is the original design and production sketch for the Golden Record, a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried in/on a phonograph record, a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The trove includes 35-milimeter slides from the Record’s production, various books and documents signed by Lomberg. Bonus: the archive was created and maintained by Carl Sagan, who began work with Lomberg in 1972. (est. $10,000+).

[Carl Sagan,]. Jon Lomberg. Design and Production Archive for the Golden Record attached to both NASA Voyager Spacecraft


2.  T.S. Eliot. Collection of 17 Typed Letters, Signed, Written to His Niece

Considered one of the 20th century’s major poets, T.S. Eliot maintained a close relationship with his niece, Charlotte Stearns Gussow, writing to her regularly on a variety of subjects. A collection of 17 letters that is on the block gives fans and historians a peek inside the poet’s everyday thoughts. They even feature an unusual signature by his wife, Vivienne Haigh Eliot. Her involvement is extremely unusual, due to the fact that they had a stormy marriage, and would separate in 1933. Although they would remain married until her death in 1947, their difficult relationship and her mental health issues are said to have inspired Eliot’s landmark 1922 poem, The Waste Land. (est. $2,500+).

3.  Collection of Plates from Campi Phlegraei, 1776

Once a generation, a scientific work propels human understanding forward in a way its predecessors never could. In the case of William Hamilton, his work on geology increased our understanding of the natural world, primarily through its outstanding images of geologic forces. Offered in one outstanding lot: 19 original hand-colored etched plates from his landmark 1776 reference book offer an instant collection from what is considered “one of the most lavish books of the 18th century.” (est. $2,000+)

4.  The Pistol Once Belonging to Erle Stanley Gardner

Let it never be said rare book auctions are boring. This season’s sale presents a collection of Personal Items from Eale Stanley Gardner, a lawyer and a prolific author most famous for the creation of sleuthing attorney Perry Mason. Furthering the image of a grizzled mystery writer, the set includes Gardner’s own Smith & Wesson Model 36 Double-Action Revolver, his pewter Abercrombie & Fitch liquor flask and a silver-plated copper cigarette case. (est. $1,000+).

5.  An Embroidered Cat by a Young T.S. Eliot

This depiction of a cat by T.S. Eliot is dated some 45 years before his 1939 publication of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which in turn would inspire and serve as the basis for the musical Cats, which was adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and winner of Best Musical at the 1983 Tony Awards. ($1,000+).

Written by: Eric Bradley

Posted by Eric Bradley

Public Relations Director

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