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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Historic Letters up for Auction

On the heels of Valentines Day comes the revelation that JFK’s love letters sent when the future president was a U.S. senator are up for auction in Chicago. The letters in the collection were previously sent in the 1950s to a Swedish woman named Gunilla von Post and include 11 handwritten letters and a handful of telegrams that span the length of their covert relationship. Tame by modern standards, there are no lurid details but their historic value is not hard to overlook. The correspondence shows the early statesman Kennedy and his private thoughts, making them invaluable to historians and collectors of JFK memorabilia.

Letters are an important and often overlooked insight into the private lives of important political, cultural and historical figures. In the age before the instantaneous communication offered by email or the low fees associated with long distance phone calls, letters were an essential means of communicating with personal and professional contacts outside of your zip code. Some of these correspondences are very collectible for their deep personal insights and the most famous letters are often collected and published for the public’s benefit.

Another set of unguarded letters written by a public figure who captured the public’s imagination through tragedy are the letters of Princess Diana. A collection of more than 30 letters include notes to her chauffeur and beautician and express her love for her children, her daily routines and her anxiety about the future. The letters are expected to go for anything from $300 to $2,300. A significant price in a market that still has not gotten over the tragic death of the Princess while in Paris in 1997.

MIR has a great deal of experience analyzing and authenticating letters by pivotal historical and cultural figures. Besides the intimate artists’ journals and sketchbooks highlighted on this blog in weeks past, MIR also houses an intriguing letter on the letterhead of the French Ministry of War (a more bellicose title for what is now considered the Minister of Defense) dating from the dawn of the French Revolution. Written in July 1799 and signed by a subordinate of General Grenier, the letter is executed in flowing calligraphy likely generated by a scribe in service of the military officer. Interestingly, the date it was written was not indicated according to the months and years we are accustomed to but rather it is dated in relation to the French Republican Calendar (Year 1 starts on 22 September 1792, Year 2 starts on 22 September 1793, etc.). A seemingly insignificant invoice of military necessities and their costs, the letter allows historians insight into the price of items, the unique dating system and the names of military figures whose names might have been lost to history.

MIR employs a range of specialists in a multitude of fields, insuring that your unique antique item will be analyzed by a knowledgeable expert in the field. A community of people experienced in both academic and professional arenas, MIR is a company interested in and dedicated to the art and items they study. You are highly encouraged to contact MIR with any questions about your treasured items or visit our website for further explanation of our services. You are always encouraged to make an appointment and visit us at our Michigan Avenue office.

Written and Researched by Justin Bergquist

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.

Principal Appraiser: Farhad Radfar, ISA AM

307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308

Chicago, IL 60601

(312) 814-8510

Works Cited:

Dizikes, Cynthia. “JFK ‘Love Letters’ to Young Swedish Woman Up for Auction,” on Chicago

Hutchinson, Bill. “Princess Diana Letters up for Auction Reveal Angst over Media Attention – and Love for James Bond,” on

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.