Muhammad Ali autographed photograph and valuable Civil War letters auction in the UK

Collectors of American Civil War memorabilia won't want to miss Dominic Winter's forthcoming sale on Wednesday July 21, offering a collection of letters which give an extraordinary insight into the lives of a family of merchants in North Carolina, between 1773-1783.

Each of the six autographed letters are written by Thomas Ogden and one each from his brothers, Titus and Isaac, to their parents James and Mary in Manchester, England. Topics in the letters mainly concern trading and personal news.

"I'm now here about 3 weeks and must confess I never in the whole course of my life met with such genteel treatment. I am one of the family [?] I eat, spend my evenings and sleep with the best in ye house," writes Thomas in a letter which is dated January 31, 1773.

A letter from the Ogden brothers from during the American Civil War

"My brother boards at a very good house in company with several [?] and members of the assembly and I assure you he is considered in a respectable light. We have made acquaintance with some of the best people in town."

In other correspondence, such as the third letter from Titus dated January 20, 1774, the writer tells of his general good fortune: "He [an associate named Thomas Emery] told me if I should like he would purchase a cargo and I should take the consignment to the West Indies..."

But the most fascinating aspects of the letters concern civil tensions, such as the Boston colonists' direct action against the British government over exports of tea to Great Britain, known as the Boston Tea Party.

"People here seem much divided, the great part of ye Americans are for supporting the Bostonians but the English Scotch & Irish talk much against it..." writes Titus, also in his letter of January 20, 1774.

With similar observations dotted throughout the correspondence and other day-to-day insights - such as the brothers' purchasing of a black slave - these letters, which wouldn't be out of place in a Civil War museum, are auctioning at Dominic Winter with a £2,000-3,000 estimate.

Inscribed: 'To John, Muhammad Ali, Sept 27, 80'

Meanwhile, other highlights in the sale include an autographed black and white photograph signed by Muhammad Ali, showing Ali in white boxing shorts with a clenched fist, standing alongside fan John Remington.

In blue ink, Ali's inscription reads: "To John, Muhammad Ali, Sept 27, 80." The 25 x 30 cm photo will auction with a copy of Angelo Dundee's book 'I Only Talk Winning' signed by Major League baseball umpire Mike Winters, and an autographed Frank Bruno publicity photo. The whole lot is estimated at just £100-150.

This is certainly a bargain price, and recent auctions have seen Ali autographs sell for considerably more. In late 2009, a collection of his handwritten letters brought a remarkable £17,925 per letter.

Elsewhere on the current markets, collectors can find two rare and coveted Ali autographs: a superb 14 x 11 cm signed photo autographed in felt tip - very rare in such a large size - and another showing the fighter staring intently across the ring.

Dominic Winter's sale will take place in South Cerney, Gloucestershire, UK.


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