FROM THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE TO THE GREATEST MOVIE NEVER MADE, JULY 8 HISTORICAL PLATINUM AUCTION SPANS POLITICS TO POP CULTURE
By the Intelligent Collector Staff
There are relatively few items in Heritage Auctions’ July 8 Historical Platinum Signature® Auction – just shy of 100 offerings. Yet its breadth and depth stagger when taken as a whole. The event, which spans the birth of the United States of America through the Space Race that pitted this country against the Soviet Union, encompasses politics, popular culture, the Wild West, the Civil Rights Movement and even Shakespeare and Harry Potter.
“Heritage has once again brought together the best of the very best, highlighting the great personalities and events of the last several centuries,” says Executive Vice President Joe Maddalena. “This auction, like all of our Platinum events, serves as a profound reminder that history lives on through these concrete reminders still with us and still with stories to tell.”
Below are just a few of the amazing relics to be appreciated, admired and, yes, acquired.
The First Broadside Edition of the Declaration of Independence Printed in Massachusetts, the Birthplace of the American Revolution
There are only six recorded copies of this historic broadside, and the one offered here is just one of two in private hands. The others reside at Harvard University, Georgetown University, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Peabody Essex Museum.
Broadsides, meant to be posted and read, were used to quickly disseminate news of the day – essentially “the tweet of the day,” says Francis Wahlgren, Heritage Auctions’ International Director of Rare Books and Manuscripts. While the Declaration was being distributed in regional newspapers, just 13 broadside editions of the Declaration of Independence were printed between July and August 1776. They originated in print shops scattered across six states: Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Massachusetts. John Rogers printed the copy offered in this event in Salem at the shop owned by Ezekiel Russell, from which The American Gazette was published in 1776.
Its provenance is impeccable: This Declaration of Independence once belonged to Philip David Sang, who famously collected and studied 18th– and 19th-century American manuscripts often loaned to or donated to universities, museums and libraries nationwide. Its rarity and origin certainly set this Declaration apart, and so, too, its layout: This is the only Declaration broadside printed in four columns.
A Comprehensive Civil Rights Archive From the Hotel Albert in Selma, Alabama, in Early 1965
As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his autobiography, “Selma, Alabama, was to 1965 what Birmingham was to 1963. The right to vote was the issue, replacing public accommodation as the mass concern of a people hungry for a place in the sun and a voice in their destiny. In Selma, thousands of Negroes were courageously providing dramatic witness to the evil forces that bar our way to the all-important ballot box.”
This incredible archive from November 1964 through June 1966 – a period replete with turning points during the fight for civil rights – breathes new life into historic headlines using history’s seemingly mundane errata: hotel receipts, an inventory of phone calls made and meals eaten. Indeed, here is King’s handwritten receipt from one of those turning points: January 18, 1965. On that day, The New York Times reported, “The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was punched and kicked by a white man today while he was registering as the first Negro guest of a hotel built more than a century ago by slave labor.” Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Chairman John Lewis “pinned the attacker’s arms to his sides,” the paper reported, while the man – identified as 26-year-old segregationist James Robinson of Birmingham – “kicked Dr. King twice.” Nazis were in attendance, too, among them George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party.
This archive, preserved in a three-ring binder by a hotel employee, also contains room receipts from that day filled out by Lewis, Hosea Williams and their fellow Southern Christian Leadership Conference members Ralph D. Abernathy, Bernard Lee, Dorothy Cotton and Andrew J. Young; here, too, are those belonging to Rockwell, the office of segregationist George Wallace and other Nazis and Klan members there to disrupt the civil rights protests. The archive also brims with names of journalists there to document the struggle, including a young Ted Koppel and Gay Talese, as well as the federal agents in town to keep an eye on the violent doings in segregated Selma.
The Earliest Example of a Lincoln Assassination Reward Broadside
This auction counts among its rarities numerous documents signed and written by President Abraham Lincoln, including an autograph album he signed during a New Year’s Day reception at the White House on January 1, 1863 – the very day he also signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Here, too, is a document tied to one of the most tragic days in American history: the earliest example of an assassination reward broadside. This first example announced a $30,000 reward for the capture of John Wilkes Booth for Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. Later broadsides, among them one in this very auction, would increase the reward to $50,000.
The poster was issued by L.C. Baker, identified as a colonel and Agent of the War Department, and includes an offer of $30,000 for the apprehension of Lincoln’s assassin. Baker, considered one of the leading spies for the Union during the Civil War, offered to contribute to the reward, as stated in the last line: “The Common Council of Washington, D.C., have offered a reward of $20,000 for the arrest and conviction of these Assassins, in addition to which I will pay $10,000.”
The Only 49-Star Presidential Oval Office Flag Ever Made
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the only president to serve under flags bearing three different numbers of stars: When he was elected in 1953, the country had 48 states; the 49-star flag became official in 1959 when Alaska became a state; and it was subsequently replaced by the 50-star design when Hawaii became a state just seven months later, making the 49-star design an absolute rarity.
The 49-star presidential flag, from Eisenhower’s second term, is one of just three Oval Office flags in private hands: The others are the 48-star flag and John F. Kennedy’s flag. The one offered here was the only one made, further underscoring its significance in American history.
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune Bible
In the early 1970s, trippy film director extraordinaire Alejandro Jodorowsky was tapped to bring Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic Dune to the big screen. The man who’d poked the establishment bear with El Topo and The Holy Mountain declared he would create a multi-hour odyssey that could rival an acid trip. He assembled a crack team of artists and designers to help him bring his (not-quite-faithful) version of the book to life: Dan O’Bannon, Christopher Foss, Jean Giraud (alias Moebius) and H.R. Giger, who would go on to help realize not only Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) but to shape and influence countless other films and television shows. Pink Floyd agreed to participate in Jodorowsky’s absurdly expansive project, as did Salvador Dalí, Mick Jagger and Orson Welles. And yet…
In its push toward production, the would-be movie’s team assembled what is long held to be one of cinema’s most uniquely brilliant and rare documents. In movie vernacular, it’s referred to as the “Dune Bible” – a luxuriously giant tome bursting with 268 monochrome photographic reproduction plates and 11 color plates by the abovementioned artists. Created to sell a vision of Dune that outdoes the original in its strangeness, there are only four known copies of this book.
The plates feature the film’s storyboard with dialogue, captions, stage directions and complete character studies and depictions of the sets and vehicles. It contains the totality of Jodorowsky’s wild inventiveness and singular promise to realize the most ambitious film ever produced. Alas, the studios passed on the Chilean-French enfant terrible and gave the project to the up-and-coming David Lynch. We all know how that one turned out, but we have the sublime vision of Jodorowsky and Co. captured, like amber, in a director’s bible for the ages.
A Handwritten Sigmund Freud Manuscript Discussing Psychoanalysis and Dream Symbolism
From a cinematic fever dream to the interpretation of them, we come to an incredibly rare manuscript penned entirely in Sigmund Freud’s hand: the seminal Dreams in Folklore. Why do we speak, think and behave the way we do? Our contemporary understanding of personality, pathology and theory of mind dominate our cultural and political discourse, and Freud forged the skeleton key for unlocking the puzzle of human development. To this day, every hot take on unconscious desire, sexuality and killer instinct relies heavily on Freud’s pioneering work and the mountains of others’ research and observation built on Freud’s foundational theories.
Freud’s famous The Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1900, presents his groundbreaking theory of dreams and an innovative method for interpreting them. His further determination to solve the riddle of the formation of myths led him to Professor David Oppenheim, a classical mythology and literature student who discussed folklore in terms of Freud’s psychoanalysis. The two collaborated on a would-be publication that applies the principles of psychoanalysis to the interpretation of dreams in mythology. Though Oppenheim initially gathered the folk tales that make up the manuscript’s raw material, the manuscript was written entirely by Freud, barring a few marginal annotations and inserts.
Oppenheim copied out his raw material and sent it to Freud, who then arranged it into a logical and coherent sequence, pasting in Oppenheim’s original material and inserting his extensive commentary from a psychoanalytic point of view. Freud must have returned the whole manuscript to Oppenheim, though a disruption in their relationship led to its publication being scrapped.
Oppenheim and his wife, Amelie, were arrested and taken to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, where he died in 1943. Amelie, however, was among the liberated survivors, and miraculously, she had managed to keep the original manuscript of Dreams in Folklore among her possessions. It wasn’t until after the death of both authors, the ending of World War II and the passage of some 47 years that Dreams in Folklore was finally published. To offer it here, among these other preserved treasures, is a dream come true.