A President's Hat Goes to Auction

OAK Auction's upcoming sale features a bevy of rare treasures, from a Stetson hat belonging to President Lyndon Johnson to a letter handwritten by General George Patton during World War II.

A President's Hat Goes to Auction

For history buffs, OAK Auction's upcoming Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Sports, Books and Photography sale on October 9 is not to be missed. With over 260 lots, the auction will feature extremely rare and one-of-a-kind treasures like Lyndon Johnson’s Worn Stetson hat, photographs signed by Led Zeppelin and Greta Garbo, and documents signed by Benjamin Franklin and President James Garfield during his brief presidency. Here are the highlights of the sale:

Lyndon B. Johnson personally owned and worn Stetson hat
Lyndon B. Johnson personally owned and worn Stetson hat

This hat was actually worn by President Lyndon B. Johnson and later given to a good friend personally by Johnson. Johnson would almost always wear this type of hat when out and was known for wearing the Stetson Open Road style. The hat has a satin liner which has an outline of the state of Texas and is inscribed "Johnson City LBJ Ranch." According to provenance that accompanies the piece, Johnson gave the hat to Bill Burrows, a loyal member of his White House staff.

George S. Patton WW2 War Date Handwritten letter
George S. Patton WW2 War Date Handwritten letter

This extremely rare war-dated letter is signed “G. S. Patton, Jr." and was written on Headquarters Fifteenth US Army letterhead on November 1, 1945. It was addressed to Mary Jane Krieger of Harrisburg, PA, a young woman with whom Patton corresponded during the war, but it is unknown if they ever met in person. Handwritten letters from Patton during WW2 are quite rare and this letter is quite unique and sad. In the letter Patton thanks Mary Jane for a Christmas gift box which he will not open "like a good boy "until December 25, 1945. Sadly he did not live to be able to open the box because he was in a vehicle crash in Germany on December 8 that left him paralyzed and with injuries that led to his December 21 death at the age of 60.

Khalil Gibran Signed Unpublished Quotation in Autograph Album with Other Famous Luminaries
Khalil Gibran Signed Unpublished Quotation in Autograph Album with Other Famous Luminaries

This is a very unusual signed autograph album. The star of the collection is a very rare handwritten quotation by Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese-American artist and writer (1883-1931) best known for his writings on religion and for his best-selling 1923 spiritual-philosophical classic The Prophet. One of his most famous quotations is from The Prophet about marriage. In the poem, which might be the most widely read poem in history at weddings, there is a line that goes "Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone". The signed quotation in the album is "And let us sing altogether Khalil Gibran 1929."

Wilbur Wright at Le Mans signed postcard
Wilbur Wright at Le Mans signed postcard

This wonderful vintage 5.5 x 3.5 French postcard shows Wright taking off in his Wright 1907 Model Flyer at the Camp d'Auvours artillery field near Le Mans, France, on September 21, 1908, and is signed in the upper left in fountain pen, "8 December 1908, Wilbur Wright." In the course of delivering his Wright Flyer to a French syndicate, Wilbur Wright traveled to Le Mans to perform a series of flights that would prove his plane's capabilities. On September 16, 1908, he set a new world record for distance and duration, flying 15.2 miles in 39 minutes. Later that day he marked another first when he flew his first passenger, French balloonist Ernest Zens. On the date of this image, he set a world endurance record of one hour and 31 minutes and 25 seconds over an estimated distance of 41 miles, a flight which won the Aero Club of France prize.

Postcard of Charles de Lambert in his Wright biplane, neatly signed in ink, "Cte. de Lambert."
Postcard of Charles de Lambert in his Wright biplane, neatly signed in ink, "Cte. de Lambert."

With the Wilbur Wright Signed postcard is an additional group of 3 items from the 1909 'Grand Quinzaine d'Aviation de Paris,' at which French aviator Charles de Lambert took virtually all prizes. Triumphant and flouting the law, on October 18th, he flew over the city of Paris and circled the Eiffel Tower—the first time any aircraft had done so. Rounding the Eiffel Tower, he headed back to the aerodrome at Juvisy-sur-Orge. His feat was all the more amazing as it had been only a few months earlier that he had been taught to fly by Orville and Wilbur Wright at Pau.

Benjamin Franklin Signed Document
Benjamin Franklin Signed Document

In this signed letter by Benjamin Franklin dated March 14, 1788, Franklin, as President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, grants John Land “a certain tract of land called ‘The Rosefield’ situate on the waters of Buffaloe Creek in Washington County beginning at a white oak.” The Executive Council comprised the executive branch of the Pennsylvania state government between 1777 and 1790. It was headed by a president and vice president (similar to a governor and lieutenant governor), with Franklin, its sixth president, being the most well-known. His presidency was one of his last acts of public service, as he died less than two years after leaving office. At the time of this land grant, the Constitution had just been ratified, and the first US presidential election was only four months away.

Rare Greta Garbo Signed Photo
Rare Greta Garbo Signed Photo

This amazing rare vintage circa 1931 glossy portrait of Garbo is boldly signed and inscribed in fountain pen, “Helen Shaw, with every good wish Greta Garbo." This photo is from the 1931 movie Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise). It is inscribed to Helen Shaw who was a famous Fly-Tier and actually is in the Fishing Hall of Fame and is called the first lady of Fly Fishing. Signed photographs of Garbo are exceedingly rare—she was known for being extremely private and did not like to sign anything, let alone photos. Garbo was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and received an Academy Honorary Award in 1954 for her luminous and unforgettable screen performances. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Garbo fifth on their list of the greatest female stars of classic Hollywood cinema.

Led Zeppelin Rare Signed Photo
Led Zeppelin Rare Signed Photo

Dating to the '70s is this magazine photo of Led Zeppelin showing John Bonham in full swing with the drums in performance and is signed by John Bonham, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, the rare signatures of the complete group.

Rare James Garfield Document Signed As President
Rare James Garfield Document Signed As President

In this document from June 1, 1881, President James Garfield appoints Presley C. Lane as “Postmaster at Palmyra, in the county of Marion, State of Missouri.” Lane was active in politics, representing Marion County in the state legislature in addition to his role as postmaster. Presidential appointments by Garfield are extremely scarce, as he actively served just four months as president—having taken the office in March 1881, he was shot on July 2 and passed away in September.

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