Wednesday, October 4, 2023

University Archives' Oct. 18 Online Auction features Items Signed by History's Brightest Luminaries

Wilton, CT, Oct 4, 2023 -- Two items signed by renowned physicist Albert Einstein (a typed letter signed and a signed photograph), a four-page autograph letter from 1794 signed by First Lady Martha Washington mentioning her husband as “the President”, and a first edition copy of black slave and poet Phillis Wheatley’s 1773 book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, are just a few of the many desirable and highly collectible items up for bid in University Archives’ online-only auction planned for Wednesday, October 18th.

The Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia auction will start promptly at 11 am Eastern time. All 430 lots in the catalog are up for viewing and bidding now – on the University Archives website: – as well as on, and Telephone and absentee bids will also be accepted.

“Our October auction offers an outstanding opportunity to acquire the exact historical item you are looking for,” said John Reznikoff, president and owner of University Archives. “We have it all, from historical documents, autographed material, rare books, photographs, and artwork, to ephemera, relics, and sports memorabilia. The sale is particularly strong in U.S. Presidential & First Families, Early America and Science.” 

Mr. Reznikoff added, “We created a subgrouping within the Science category inspired by Christopher Nolan’s film Oppenheimer, including numerous items related to Physics, World War II and the Atomic Age. Items are signed by Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project. We hope everyone can join us on the 18th.”

Lot 395 is a one-page typed letter in English signed by Albert Einstein dated November 3, 1942, discussing the influence of Johannes Kepler on Einstein’s research into his Special and General Theories of Relativity. Einstein’s hypothesis that light and space curve was based on Kepler’s observations that planetary orbits were elliptical. The letter should command $25,000-$35,000. An aside: the Scottish actor Tom Conti plays Albert Einstein in the movie Oppenheimer.

Lot 396 is a photograph of Albert Einstein taken by Herman Landshoff and later used for the 15-cent U.S. stamp commemorating Einstein’s 100th birthday in 1979. The photo is boldly signed by Einstein (as “Albert Einstein 47”) along the lower margin. It is expected to gavel for $20,000-$30,000.

Lot 397 is a double-sided scientific manuscript in the hand of Richard Feynman, illustrating how a computer program can approximate a solution to a differential equation using Runge-Kutta methods. Both pages also include flow diagrams and a numbered sequence of computer commands (est. $9,000-$10,000). Richard Feynman is played by Jack Quaid in Oppenheimer.

First Ladies Martha Washington, Rachel Jackson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan are highlighted in the October sale. Lot 150 is a four-page autograph letter signed by First Lady Martha Washington written on February 15, 1794 in Philadelphia, referring to her husband three times, as the “President.” Martha Washington letters are especially rare in the private sector. This example is particularly rich in textual references to Washington. The letter has a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000.

Lot 212 is a first edition copy (Stoddard’s Edition 1) of Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, by Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston, in New England (London: A. Bell, Bookseller, 1773). The book is from the personal collection of John C. Shields, a college professor and Wheatley scholar (est. $20,000-$30,000).

Lot 247 is a Dutch land grant signed by Director-General Peter Stuyvesant on April 16, 1654, granting a freehold in what is today’s Manhattan Financial District, just steps away from Wall Street. The land grant, to Cornelis van Ruijven, corresponded to part of a sheep pasture located near the Broad Canal, or “Heere Gracht,” an important trade route and waterway built by free and enslaved Dutch and African laborers in today’s heart of Lower Manhattan (est. $20,000-$30,000).

Lot 244 is a check signed by Polish Jewish émigré Haym Salomon, one of the most elusive of all the Founding Fathers, considered by some even more uncommon than Button Gwinnett. Salomon, along with other Patriot financiers, helped fund the Continental Army; he signed this Revolutionary War-dated check promising him 656 livres tournois (est. $18,000-$20,000).

Right in time for Halloween, Lot 371 is a first edition, second issue of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Westminster: Archibald Constable and Co., 1897), signed and dated by the author as “Bram Stoker / 15 Decr. 1899” on the front loose endpaper (est. 15,000-$20,000). The Literature category also features F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Boris Pasternak, Eugene O’Neill, Charles Dickens and others. 

Lot 347 is a group of over 15 documents belonging to Russian diplomat Egor Constantinovich Mussury, circa 1891-1914, including four diplomatic appointments signed by Czar Nicholas II and two diplomatic appointments signed by King Carlos I of Portugal. The collection, in five languages, charts Mussury’s career in the Russian Imperial foreign service (est. $7,500-$10,000).

Lot 88 is a Civil War-dated autograph endorsement by Abraham Lincoln, dated June 4, 1862 and nicely matted and framed. Lincoln’s signed directive appears on the back of a petition from an Ohio abolitionist named Dr. Amos Pettijohn to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, asking him to expedite his application to become U.S. Marshal of the Arizona Territory (est. $7,000-$8,000).

Lot 419 is a Mickey Mantle rookie card, 1951 Bowman #253, PSA graded, certified “Authentic Altered” and perfectly centered (est. $7,000-$8,000). The Bowman Mantle rookie card is more prized and rarer than the 1952 Topps Mantle rookie card issued the following year. Other major sports figures in the sale include Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Bruce Lee and Tiger Woods.

Lot 57 is an Ohio land grant dated Jan. 17, 1803 and signed by Thomas Jefferson as President and James Madison as Secretary of State, authorizing the transfer of desirable lands adjacent to the Little Miami and Sciota Rivers to Duncan McArthur, a former Indian ranger and Northwest Indian War veteran, and a future Ohio U.S. Congressman and Governor (est. $4,500-$5,500).

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

For more information about University Archives and the online-only Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia auction scheduled for Wednesday, October 18th at 11 am Eastern time, please visit Updates are posted frequently.

About University Archives :
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’ offices are located at 88 Danbury Rd. (Suite #2A) in Wilton, Conn. For more information about University Archives, please visit Updates are posted frequently.