Lion Heart Autographs May 23 auction is open for bidding on Invaluable.com. Their first of two auctions for 2018, there are 160 lots, covering history, art, literature, science, and music. From Amelia Earhart to Puccini, Teddy Roosevelt to J. Robert Oppenheimer, Steinbeck to Castro.
Or as they describe it: TR “Big Stick” Letter; Autographs by Naughty Royals, Sorcerers, Spies; Weird Tales of Sex, Scandal, Faked Death & More!
I called the president of Lion Heart, David Lowenherz, to talk about the sale:
Lion Heart Autographs advertises its May 23 auction as a “No Buyer’s Fee” auction. Why don’t you charge one?
Lowenherz: “Lion Heart auctions have been free of any additional buyer’s charge from the start. That means that the hammer price is the price the bidder pays. There is no buyer’s commission, which I consider a “tax,” making our policy unlike almost all other auction houses, which commonly charge up to 30% on top of the hammer price. Like all taxes, I feel that a buyer’s fee acts as a disincentive to collectors.”
Do collectors appreciate this benefit?
Lowenherz: “I’ve received many supportive comments from collectors and libraries, who now feel that their hard-earned money is going into the autograph itself and not towards an administrative fee with no intrinsic value to them.”
Everyone seems to be getting into the auction business these days. Why did you?
Lowenherz: “I’ve been a full-time dealer since 1978 when I opened Lion Heart Autographs in New York City. In the past, we reached customers through catalogs, mail, and telephone. In fact, our catalogs were so interesting and well-designed that clients started to collect them in addition to the autographs I offered in them!
“We no longer print catalogs because one can view autographs so much better online and we can offer new inventory instantly. However, we continue to engage our customers in several ways. First and foremost through our website, www.lionheartautographs.com, which acts as a dynamic catalog. Then directly to customers, mostly through email. Additionally, we exhibit at two shows every year, the Palm Beach Show over President’s Weekend and the New York Antiquarian Book Fair – the most prestigious rare book and manuscript fair in the world today.
“We added the online auction format through Invaluable.com in order to increase our exposure and to offer clients who prefer to buy at auction the opportunity to acquire items at a price level they can choose. Auctions focus everyone’s attention on the day of the sale. There is plenty of time to bid before the auction starts, but on auction day, that is when everyone’s mind needs to be made up!”
Is the online auction system fair?
Lowenherz: “Completely. After a bidder’s registration is approved, I have no idea what the person is bidding on or how high they have or plan to bid if they bid through Invaluable. If a client prefers to bid on the phone directly with us or have us execute a written bid on their behalf, we can also accommodate that. Online bidders should know that in the case of identical high bids, the bid submitted first is the one the online auction system will select as the winner, which is why it’s important to get bids in early.”
What are some of the highlights of your May 23 auction?
Lowenherz: “Certainly Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 letter in which he invokes a “Big Stick” reference to define his conservationist views is both charming and significant. Outside of the original “Big Stick” letter that sold for around $40,000, this is the only other TR letter I am aware of that uses that phrase ever to come on the market.
“A truly historic letter is Sir Humphrey Davy’s ALS announcing the discovery of his safety lamp, probably the single most important discovery in the history of coal mining.
“There are numerous letters revolving around Irish literature, an astonishingly candid letter by Franklin Pierce about slavery, George S. Patton as a cadet in West Point, several archives of American Western writers, good literary letters by Conrad, Frost, and Steinbeck, and much, much more; 160 items in all.”
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that your auction lots have a lifetime guarantee of authenticity. Few auctions offer that.
Lowenherz: “Yes! We guarantee every autograph we sell as authentic without time limit. After forty years of experience as a dealer and appraiser whose client list includes major universities and libraries such as Harvard, Yale, The U.S. Library of Congress, the Pierpont Morgan Library and institutions like the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall and the estates of Leonard Bernstein, Martha Graham, Irving Berlin, Alvin Ailey and Otto Nathan—the personal secretary of Albert Einstein, Lion Heart Autographs bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise that satisfied customers have relied on for decades.”
My favorite lot is the Amelia Earhart signed photo standing in front of her airplane. What can you tell me about it?
Lowenherz: “The photo was likely taken at Burbank, California’s United Airport around 1935 and Earhart is in front of her Lockheed Vega 5B, which she affectionately called her “little red bus,” and which she flew that year on her historic solo flight across the Pacific Ocean – a first for a woman. Standing on her right is Albert Paul Mantz, a stunt pilot and her technical advisor on the trans-Pacific flight and on her left, Lockheed test pilot, Marshall Headle, both of whom have also signed the photograph. Interestingly, Earhart was named as a co-respondent in Mantz’s divorce case!”
If you love ageless autographs, be sure to check out Lion Heart’s May 23 Autograph Auction. You’ll be glad you did.