Autographs, Manuscripts and Documents

at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

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A Papal Document, Original Stephen Ward Art and a JFK New Year's Card Headline at Fraser's Autographs Auction

From the family of a noted Italian journalist, a truly unique document from the controversial 1903 Papal Conclave will feature at the Fraser's Autographs' auction on Friday 5th June alongside a hugely rare New Year's Card from American President John F Kennedy and original artwork by Stephen Ward.

Initiated by the death of Pope Leo XIII, the 1903 Conclave is among the more famous of modern times due to a Jus exclusivae (veto) imposed against papabile Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro by the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I, for what is believed to be Rampolla's liberal views which were at odds with the conservative stance of the powerful Catholic heads of State.

The truly remarkable aspect of this document is that one can clearly see that Rampolla was the favourite, by some way, and ultimately won the vote. Sarto initially had little support from the other cardinals of the conclave but of course once the veto was initiated Rampolla was effectively removed from the ballot.

Offered alongside the document is a ballot paper from Cardinal Svampa with the note "This is the vote I've always given in the seven ballots of August 1-2-3-4, 1903", which leads to speculation that he kept the ballot and his vote as proof of his sustained allegiance to Sarto, and Sarto was not a second choice in obedience to the imperial veto. A good political move perhaps, as Sarto became Pope Pius X.

Tradition dictates that minutes of a conclave are destroyed by burning them to produce the famous white or black smoke denoting the outcome of proceedings. Because this vote was vetoed, it was never burnt with the ballot papers.

The owner was extremely well connected with numerous relations and contacts within the high ranks of the Roman Church. It is the first time they have ever been offered at auction and due to their unique nature and significant historical importance, the interest in this item is expected to be extremely high. Starting bid: £500 [Lot 128].

Custom made by Hallmark in 1963 for President Kennedy, two versions of the card were ordered, the much rarer card featured here with 'Blessed Christmas' omitted. The card front features a photograph of the nativity scene located in the East Room of the White House.

Days before making his fateful state visit to Dallas, Texas, President Kennedy returned to Washington on the evening of November 18 from a trip to Florida. Sometime between his return and the evening of the 20th, both the president and first lady began to sign the cards at their leisure. On the morning of November 21, they boarded a plane and left for San Antonio, Texas, with plans to arrive in Dallas on November 22. There the president would be assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. The cards were never sent and remained relatively unknown, even to the Kennedy Library, until the 1980s.

An extremely rare card indeed, and with only a few known examples, one of which resides in the Smithsonian Museum, this is a highly sought after item. In exceptionally good condition this card represents the chance to own a piece of American political history. Starting bid: £3,000 [Lot 141].

An artist, osteopath and prolific socialite, Stephen Ward, was one of the central figures in the 1963 Profumo affair, a British political scandal which brought about the resignation of the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, and contributed to the defeat of the Conservative government a year later.

These events have been covered in the movie "Scandal (1998)", where Ward was portrayed by John Hurt, in the recent Andrew Lloyd Webber chamber opera "Stephen Ward: The Musical" and most hard-hittingly in QC Geoffrey Robertson's book "Stephen Ward Was Innocent, OK".

We have two original signed drawings by Ward of the same young female model, one of which is dated 1963. The first is mounted and clearly signed "Stephen Ward '63", the second portrait is unframed. They are accompanied by 3 black and white studio portraits of the model in question. Starting bid: £750 [Lot 117].

Further Highlights

A lovely vintage black and white ABC Television photograph of The Beatles performing in the early stage of their career. Signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - and dedicated by Starr across the top left corner: "To David, Best wishes from The Beatles". Obtained in person during 1963 by a photographer for a British national newspaper. Starting bid: £6,000 [Lot 204A].

A rare and very collectable printed "Souvenir of Three Deuces, 72 West 52nd Street, New York" card, signed on the rear "To Bobbie, Sincerely:- Charlie Parker". Sold together with an original black and white photo showing Charlie Parker sat in the Three Deuces club flanked by six guests, apparently including Bobbie Kevin, a drummer with the Ken Mackintosh Big Band. Examples of Parker's signature are particularly sought after, and this is an especially clear example. The item comes from the family of Ken Mackintosh, big band leader extraordinaire. Starting bid: £3,000 [Lot 198].

A stunning 1980s Fender Stratocaster guitar signed on the body by Eric Clapton and B.B. King. The Guitar was signed for a stage tech by Clapton during his residency at the Royal Albert Hall in spring 1991 (as captured on the "24 Nights" live album). Later that same year the tech was also able to secure BB King's signature on the same guitar. Guitars signed by Clapton on the actual body are uncommon; with most examples being 'made up' using signed scratch plates. Starting bid: £2,000 [Lot 205].

Two superb individual signed photographs of Winston and Clementine Churchill. The vendor reports that, "My grandfather, during the Second World War, rented an apartment in the historical centre of Rome to an English woman that suddenly disappeared leaving most of her personal effects in my family's house, including these photos. He has always had the suspicion that the mysterious woman was a spy". Starting bid: £1,750 [Lot 136].

A signed copy of the catalogue "Francis Bacon: Recent Paintings", Marlborough Fine Art, July-August 1965 and inscribed to George Dyer, the artist's lover and subject of the first portrait included in the catalogue. Inscribed, "To George Dyer, with love and best wishes, Francis Bacon". Legend maintains that Bacon first met Dyer when the latter was caught breaking into the artist's studio. The pair became lovers and Dyer inspired some of his finest work in the 60s. Dyer famously committed suicide in Paris on the eve of Bacon's major retrospective there in 1971, thus leading to a darker turn in Bacon's work culminating in the 1973 triptychs depicting Dyer's death. The item was gifted by George Dyer to Nosher Powell, professional boxer, stuntman, bodyguard and man about town in Soho, London. Starting bid: £750 [Lot 1].

A signed circular, apparently to MPs appealing to them for justice after alleged mistreatment in Russia, from John Bellingham (1769-1812), the assassin of British Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval (1762-1812). Circular dated March 12 1812. On May 11 1812 Bellingham entered the lobby of the House of Commons and shot Perceval through the heart (the only Prime Minister to be assassinated). Four days later Bellingham was tried for murder, found guilty and hanged after another three days. This item is sold together with Spencer Perceval's signature, removed from a Treasury document. Starting bid: £500 [Lot 11].

A set of approx. 125 original negatives on celluloid strips, taken from cinefilm shot by an unknown photographer / filmmaker given access to the set of the Beatles' filming of the 'Magical Mystery Tour' television movie in 1967. It appears to this cataloguer that images could quite comfortably be developed from most of the negatives. We have a set of three contact sheets that were developed from the strips in 1999 (viewable on our website) showing The Beatles working and relaxing on the set. Viewing highly recommended. Starting bid: £800 [Lot 11].

The sale will be held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions' London saleroom on Wednesday 5th June 2014 with viewing from Monday 2nd June 2014. The catalogue is available to view online HERE.


Established in 1978, Fraser's Autographs are one of the UK's largest autograph dealers located in the heart of London's Mayfair at Bloomsbury House. Working together with our colleagues at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, we have access to an unrivaled breadth of market leading knowledge. As part of the Stanley Gibbons we are a brand synonymous with quality and expertise. Established in 1856, The Stanley Gibbons Group plc is the world's leading rare stamp and prestige collectibles merchant with offices in the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Channel Islands.

A holder of the Royal Warrant as philatelists since 1914 and AIM-listed in London, the Group is debt-free and has shown consistent double-digit EBIT growth through the recent economic downturn in the UK and Europe.

Bloomsbury House, 24 Maddox St, London - 23rd May 2014