From ‘Honest Abe’ to Bob Dylan, rare historical items up for auction in Wilton

University Archives' latest auction includes some rare treasures, including an autograph book dating back to the 1840s, signed by both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

John Craven

Sep 5, 2023, 9:38 PM

Updated 260 days ago

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Think history is only in a museum? Think again. This week, a Wilton auction house is selling everything from a handwritten letter by author F. Scott Fitzgerald to the autographs of five presidents.
University Archives has been auctioning history to the highest bidder for decades.
“We buy and sell documents and relics and photographs of famous people, or famous events in history,” said owner John Reznikoff.
Their latest auction includes some rare treasures, including an autograph book dating back to the 1840s, signed by both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.
“It's the only item I've ever seen signed by the people who would become the president of the United States and the president of the Confederacy,” said Reznikoff.
The auction also includes Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to his 1965 classic, “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” The item could fetch a hefty $50,000, but there are items at all price points.
“You could buy a presidential autograph -- maybe not a popular one -- for $100. But you could also spend $1 million,” said Reznikoff. “I have people who drive a pickup truck and people who own hedge funds.”
You can bid online for more than 500 items here, but only until Wednesday morning.
All these historical treasures aren't just confined to the auction house. You may have some of them sitting in a box right in your attic. The letter from Fitzgerald was found by a Westport homeowner.
“Just sitting in a box,” said Reznikoff. “These were donated – dropped off at the Westport Library.”
But history also has a dark side. Four years ago, Reznikoff was criticized for attempting to sell part of a blood stained seat from President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
“It's kind of sad that someone's still trying to make a buck off of that,” said Keith Fowler, a visitor to Dallas’ Dealey Plaza, where JFK was killed.
But Reznikoff believes people deserve to own a piece of history – even when it's ugly.
“We do draw the line in certain spots, but there's light and dark to history,” he said.


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