DALLAS, TEXAS - The Edward C. Gillette Collection of Early Political and Presidential Display Items, offered at auction by Heritage Auction Galleries on March 1, 2008, realized $770,297 for 440 lots, setting a new record for an auction of material of this type.
"We were very gratified by these results," observed Tom Slater, Director of Americana Auctions for Heritage. "I have been active in this specialized collectibles area for over 35 years, and have never before seen such an outstanding collection of early political and presidential display items offered in a single auction. Understanding the importance of this historic offering, we made every effort to give this landmark collection the presentation and promotion it deserved, and we were happy to see that the material was duly appreciated by hobbyists."
"A significant factor in the auction's success was the wide range of bidders that participated," Slater said. "...'cross-over' bidding from other collecting disciplines resulted in prices not normally achieved in auctions which appeal only to political collectors."
"For example," Slater continued, "as a category, the canes and walking sticks brought prices never before achieved in political collecting circles, including many individual record prices for manufactured varieties for which direct comparisons are possible. A Lincoln cane, made from a piece of fence rail split by 'Honest Abe' himself, sold for $10,755, nearly triple what Gillette paid for it at auction just two years ago. Additionally, a number of manufactured canes for candidates such as Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft sold at record levels that represented multiples of their pre-sale estimates."
Slater continued, "One price that left the consignor speechless was achieved by a pair of postally -used 1860 campaign covers, which sold for $5,078, roughly ten times their pre-sale estimate. The estimate was based on their value to political collectors, but they had a vastly greater significance to philatelic collectors, who discovered the offering on the internet and then participated in the spirited bidding."
"Another fine example of cross-over bidding was seen in a Civil War sword celebrating General George McClellan that doubled its pre-sale estimate, realizing $19,120," Slater said. "Ornately decorated, it bears a raised bust of McClellan on the scabbard, and was made, not for use in battle, but to be engraved as a presentation piece to a ranking army officer. Gillette added the sword to his collection because McClellan was Lincoln's opponent in the 1864 presidential election. It had a strong appeal to Civil War collectors, based both on its beauty and its rarity. Normally, collectors in this area would be unlikely to know about an offering like this in an auction aimed mainly at political collectors, but the exposure across many different collectible lines, as provided by Heritage, resulted in higher than expected bidding activity, and extremely aggressive final auction prices."
"Most of the Gillette Collection appeared in the dedicated March 1st auction catalog," Slater added. "However, a number of significant pieces have also been held back for inclusion in the political section of Heritage's fall auction of general Americana."
Highlights of the auction included:
George Washington: Sought-After "March The Fourth - 1789 Memorable Era" Inaugural Brass Shank Button:
REALIZED: $8,962George Washington: Great Liverpool Pitcher Featuring the Most Desirable George Washington Portrait Transfer:
Thomas Jefferson: Amazing Scrimshaw Ivory and Silver Page-Turner:
James Monroe: Extremely Rare White House China Dinner Plate:
Hannibal Hamlin: Important Coin Silver Teapot by Gale & Hughes of New York, Engraved to Lincoln's Future First Vice President in Memory of an Earlier Vice President, Daniel D. Tompkins:
Henry Clay: Magnificent Paris Porcelain Cup with Hand Painted Portrait:
Daniel Webster: Massive 1853-Dated Bronze Statue of the Highest Quality:
Abraham Lincoln: Especially Nice Signed Civil War Appointment:
Abraham Lincoln: Superb Solid 18K Gold Memorial Watch:
For more information about Heritage's auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HA.com.