Signed portraits of early astronauts, 17th-century Virginia map lead Waverly’s Dec. 8 auction in suburban Washington

November 17th, 2011 by

440-lot sale features of fine and rare books; autographs, maps

Original pencil drawing of Astronaut John Glenn, one of a set of six drawings of early US astronauts by Ruth E. Johnston, who worked for NASA and in the White House. Five of the drawings are autographed individually by the astronaut subject. Group estimate: $2,000-$4,000. Waverly Auctions image.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – A set of original 1960s autographed pencil portraits of early US astronauts and a 17th-century map of Virginia with quaint spellings of geographic locations are among the highlights of Waverly Auctions’ Dec. 8 sale in suburban Washington, D.C. The 440-lot event features fine and rare books, autographs and manuscripts, maps and atlases.


A selection of 381 lots of books dating from the 16th century to present day will open the sale. Desirable early imprints are included, with the best of the first editions being an 1826 British 3-volume edition of James Fennimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757. Published by John Miller, London, the set is expected to make $1,000-$2,000 at auction.


Several especially collectible Presidential signatures will be offered, with most of them appearing on portraits or other ephemera such as photographs, documents or Christmas cards. A long-forgotten trove of Harry S. Truman autographed ephemera will be presented in four groupings. Waverly Managing Director Anson Brown said the collection had been “buried for decades” and came from one of Truman’s college classmates, Donald S. Dawson, who also served as the president’s executive assistant from 1947 to 1953.


Within the Dawson archive are numerous photographs signed by Truman and members of his Cabinet, including many personally inscribed to Dawson. “The personalization adds value to the signed photos because the recipient was a member of the president’s inner circle,” Brown noted.


The star lot of the sale is a set of six original 1960s pencil on art paper portraits of pioneering American astronauts as sketched by Ruth E. Johnston, who worked for NASA and also in the White House Social Office under Presidents Nixon and Johnson. The photorealistic portraits were drawn from actual NASA photos and include depictions of John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Walter “Wally” Schirra, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Scott Carpenter and Gordon Cooper. Five of the matted and framed portraits are individually autographed by the astronauts seen in the drawings, and four are personally inscribed to the artist. Each is accompanied by the original halftone photo Johnston used as the basis for the drawing. The personal archive is to be auctioned as one lot with a presale estimate of $2,000-$4,000.

Map of Virginia and Delmarva Peninsula, circa 1684-1696, Nicolaum Visscher. Titled in Latin, outline hand-coloring, additional coloring of engraved decorations. Estimate $4,000-$6,000. Waverly Auctions image.

Approximately 15 American, European and Middle Eastern maps have been cataloged in the Dec. 8 sale, with the top lot expected to be a map of Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula from the period 1684-1696. Titled in Latin, the Nicolaum Visscher map features outline hand coloring and colored engraved decorations [wild animals, structures, etc.], plus an especially attractive cartouche with a profile view of “Nieuw Amsterdam [Manhattan]” – complete with a Dutch windmill, wood houses and open fields.


“What makes this map important is that it is an early Virginia map with names for various locations that quickly changed. ‘Pennsylvania’ is spelled phonetically on the map, and the Delmarva is shown off scale, which is interesting. We expect a lot of local curiosity in this lot,” said Brown. The map is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.


Full-length drawing of ‘The Cat in the Hat’ by Theodore Geisel, a k a Dr. Seuss, black and red felt tip pen, 20 3/8 inches by 10 3/8 inches. Estimate $1,000-$3,000. Waverly Auctions image.

Pop culture is represented by an Elvis Presley signed LP, an Andy Warhol signed pen-and-ink drawing of a Campbell’s soup can, and a “Cat in the Hat” full-length drawing signed by Theodore Geisel, a k a Dr. Seuss. The latter artwork is executed in black and red felt tip pen and measures 20 3/8 inches by 10 3/8 inches. The inscription reads “Best Wishes! from the Cat in the hat and Dr. Seuss,” with a black squiggle immediately under the signature. Estimate: $1,000-$3,000.


Waverly’s Dec. 8 auction will be held at the Quinn’s & Waverly gallery located at 431 N. Maple Ave., Falls Church, VA 22046. Start time is 6:30 p.m. Eastern. All forms of bidding will be available. For additional information call 703-532-5632 or e-mail Visit Waverly’s online at