Amazing Collection of Historic Documents at Douglas Elliman Real Estate


Douglas Elliman Real Estate donated use of its Madison Avenue gallery to showcase an exhibit of some of the world’s most unique and interesting handwritten historical documents prior to their being sold at auction in California on December 18th. Elliman Real Estate, one of the premiere New York City real estate firms, opened its doors to host the week-long promotion after the original site, Fraunces Tavern, suffered extensive damage due to Hurricane Sandy. Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, explained that the company’s “spirit of New York resiliency” inspired it to offer to host the unique exhibit to enable East Coast residents to see firsthand “this amazing collection before it goes to auction.

The intriguing personal documents on display were personally handwritten by some of the most notable figures throughout history including President George Washington, Beatle John Lennon, inventor Thomas Edison, baseball great Joe DiMaggio and literary genius Charles Dickens. The auction included 300 lots of personal documents made available by a private collector and is called “The Property of a Distinguished American Collector Part I” and is hosted by Profiles in History. The collection is so extensive that the auction has been divided into two parts, with Part II scheduled for May of this year.

Adams, John. Important autograph letter signed (‘John Adams”), 1 Page (9 ¾ x 8 in.), Quincy, 26 January 1814, to Richard Rush, the son of signer Benjamin Rush regarding his position to a successful conclusion to the War of 1812; light browning, mounting remnants on verso.


Martha Malinowski, long-time Sotheby’s auction house employee who has since become curator for Profiles in History, cataloged the extensive collection for the auction. She reports that she was amazed to find many documents in the collection she had handled before while working at Sotheby’s and found a sense of quiet satisfaction upon discovering where they had ultimately wound up. Most of the documents reveal something very intimate about the writer, the subject matter or the recipient. Content ranges from an apologetic letter from Joe DiMaggio to screen goddess Marilyn Monroe following a violent argument, the personal thoughts of George Washington, sketches of telephones drawn by Thomas Edison and an invitation from Beatle John Lennon inviting fellow musician Eric Clapton to join forces with him in creating a new musical group.

Malinowski says that the one of a kind historical items are priced so that everyone, regardless of budget, can invest in owning a unique piece of history. Opening bids range from several thousand dollars, for a letter written by a soldier during the Revolutionary War, to hundreds of thousands of dollars for some of the rarest correspondences, including Thomas Jefferson, writer Ernest Hemingway and artist Vincent Van Gogh, who sent get well wishes to a friend in France just several months before his own suicide.

Van Gogh, Vincent. Extraordinary autograph letter signed (“Vincent”), in French, 4 pages (8 x 5 ¼ in.; 203 x 133 mm.), on grid paper, “Saint-Remy de Provence,” 20 January 1890 to “M. & Mme. Ginoux” (Joseph Ginoux and Marie Ginoux-Julien); with envelope addressed in Van Gogh’s hand to: Monsieur Ginoux, Cafe de la gare, Place Lamartine, Arles; spotting, repair to page fold. Less than seven months before his death, Van Gogh shares his thoughts with an ailing friend: Illnesses are there to make us remember again that we are not made of wood.

The first part of this auction brought in an astounding 5.1 million dollars with part II expecting to bring in an amount even larger. The most highlighted piece of the event was without question Vincent Van Gogh’s extraordinary autographed letter that sold for $280,000, an amount exceeding expectations of around $200,000. Prior to this sale, a highly important autographed letter from Thomas Jefferson sold for a quarter million. The majority of the lot was in fact sold at higher prices than expected which certainly portrays the rarity and value of this collection. Fortunately for those who missed the first event, the second part will be much larger and size and should be astounding to the eye. It is without a doubt a must see to all art lovers and collectors alike.

The following includes information is written by Ken Torrino, web relations for Elliman, brokers for NYC, Queens Real Estate.


A dramatic eyewitness account of the battle of Bunker Hill. The Victory obtained by about two thousand regular troops commanded by Genl How [General William Howe


This is a painting of the Battle of Little Big Horn. On 11 June the unit reached their supply depot on the Yellowstone near the mouth of the Glendive’s Creek. At this juncture, Josiah Chance was assigned the duty of Depot Quarter Master (in the rear with the gear), much to his disappointment.


In this photo, George Washington pays tribute to the \ man, who, while leading the administration of Great Britain was responsible for the recognition of American Independence.


Maria Papaefstathiou

VISUAL DESIGNER since 1996 and blogger since 2010. Living in Athens, Greece. She has been focusing her research on poster design and particularly on social poster design and portrait design. Her main poster project is a series of posters celebrating great personalities of traditional and popular culture in Greece and Jamaica. These include actors, singers, musicians, poets etc. This is an ongoing project. “I believe that design is a powerful tool that we designers can use to spark enthusiasm, change mindsets and bring positive actions to our world and our culture”. FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF GRAPHICART-NEWS.COM BLOG. She carefully curates high-quality designs, illustrations, and art, from all over the world that will teach and provoke other designers. Many consider her blog to be an exceptional educational tool. CO-FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE POSTER CONTEST which was launched on December 2011, partnering, the creative activist Michael Thompson aka Freestylee. (

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