Bonham's to sell $60k Melville and $25k Gauguin letters

The Bonham's Rare Books and Manuscripts sale is pulling together an exceptional range of autographed pieces from the worlds of art, literature and science.

The pieces include two remarkable Albert Einstein memorabilia: a printed letter, in German, estimated at $3,000-5,000, and a photograph estimated at $1,500-2,000.

In the former, he explains his works published for the benefit of Dr Ford of Princeton. The latter shows him meeting the California Governor.

A three page handwritten letter from Darwin discusses his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, and his two-volume work Zoonomia, aka The Laws of Organic life. It is estimated at $7,000-9,000.

A messy, one page 1923 handwritten letter from Sigmund Freud written on his own stationery is estimated at $4,000-6,000. Meanwhile, a 1929 printed letter from his one-time friend and rival Carl Jung, bemoaning the ubiquity of Freudian doctors, is expected to sell for $1,500-2,500.

More recent signatures of note include those of the NASA Mercury 7 astronauts in Martin Caiden's book about the Mercury space projects.

This historic book, with dust jacket, is estimated at $2,500-3,500 and features the autograph of Mercury 7's Walter Schirra.

At Paul Fraser Collectibles, we currently have a beautiful vintage matte-finish, 10 x 8 inch photograph featuring the Mercury 7 crew, which can be yours to own.

Works by a number of artists will feature at the Bonham's sale, including handwritten letters from Matisse and Monet, expected to be worth a few thousand, and a signed print from Picasso valued at around $8,000.

An inscription by F. Scott Fitzgerald ($6,000-8,000)
F. Scott Fitzgerald's inscription ($6k-8k)

The pick of these pieces, however, is a four page letter from Paul Gauguin - estimated at $20,000-25,000 - in which he complains about his wife, his finances and art critics' reaction to current artists, especially Manet.

"You only have talent once you're dead," he writes, bitterly.

Gauguin's letter foreshadowed the break-up of his marriage. His comment probably refers not only to old masters, but to his friend van Gogh who had been fêted after his death. Of course, the comment would later apply to the Gauguin himself.

There are several pieces from literary figures, including letters from Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle and A A Milne (the latter being exchanges with Christopher Robin Milne).

The most expensive is a long letter from author Herman Melville - estimated at $60,000-80,000 - to his publisher, promising a more readable work after a recent commercial failure. The letter hints at a forthcoming work, Moby Dick.

Two of the best inscriptions are written by Ernest Hemingway, on a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls, and another by F Scott Fitgerald addressed to William Judd.

"Parisien, Critic, Playrite, Bibliophile, Drunkard, and Good Egg from F. Scott Fitzgerald," he writes.

Both are estimated at $6,000-8,000, while a postcard from Fitzgerald in which he apologises for being "a bastard" is estimated at $5,000-8,000.

This fantastic range of signatures is available on October 19. The sale also includes a fine range of rare and first-edition books and a collection of unique surfing memorabilia.


For further information on our Mercury 7 autographs and other collectible items, please contact Adrian Roose at or telephone +44 (0) 117 933 9503


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