History | September 17, 2016 4:00 am

Buy a ’60s NASA Test Robot, Gandhi’s Autograph in Same Auction

NASA Robot
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)

We’ve covered a fair amount of auctions so far this year at RealClearLife, and the vast majority have had something in common: an overarching theme that ties all the items together. Contemporary art. Abraham Lincoln. Sports memorabilia. JFK. The NASA space program.

But Boston-based RR Auctions clearly decided to throw that concept out the window with its latest sale, which might as well be called “All the Strangest and Coolest Things Money Can Buy” (actually, they entitled the sale “Remarkable Rarities”). In it, you can buy a plethora of historical artifacts, ranging from a personally handwritten George Washington letter from 1796, featuring his signature; a Civil War Union surgeon’s kit; and get this, a 1965 NASA space suit test robot.

The auction takes places between Sept. 15-25 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Below, find out more about these items and seven more.


George Washington Signed 1796 Letter

If you ever wanted to own a real piece of history connected to the first president of the United States, this is your chance. The letter, dated October 12, 1796, is in response to praise and concerns from his historic “Farewell Address.” In it, Washington expresses confidence that his fellow Americans will always choose a fitting and able chief executive to lead the country. For more on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $362,500

George Washington Signature
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)


Ludwig van Beethoven Handwritten Music

This lot includes a fragment of paper featuring an unrecorded and unpublished work by famed composer Ludwig van Beethoven. If you’re wondering, it’s a G-minor Adagio. For more information on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $40,000

Ludwig van Beethoven
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)


Martin Luther King, Jr. Autographed Sermon Quote

On this piece, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote down a part of his sermon “On Being a Good Neighbor” and signed it (it was originally delivered during the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956). The handwritten quote was sent to a Swedish newspaper during King’s visit to Sweden in March 1966, where he spoke at the Stockholm Opera House. For more information on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $30,000

Martin Luther King Autograph
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)

Malcolm X Typed Letter Signed

An extremely rare letter written by Malcolm X to his teacher, Elijah Muhammad, talking about their beliefs. It was typed out three years after he’d become an acolyte of Muhammad’s, the famed leader of the Nation of Islam. Also included in the lot is the original mailing envelope. For more information on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $20,000

Malcolm X Signature
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)


Orville and Wilbur Wright Signed Photo

The forefathers of flight, the Wright Brothers successfully tested the first-ever manned airplane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. The photograph is dated May 1, 1909, after the brothers ventured to France to show off their discovery and train French pilots. For more information on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $20,000

Wright Brothers Autographs
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)


Mohandas Gandhi Signed Woodcut Engraving

It’s not every day you see such an important figure’s handwritten name. This 1942 woodcut engraving of Gandhi is by artist Fritz Eichenberg. It was originally created for The Catholic Worker, a Christian newspaper. The engraving is signed “God is Truth, M.K. Gandhi,” referring to the core tenet of his philosophy. For more information on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $15,000

Ghandi Autograph
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)


Walt Disney Signed Christmas Card

Yes, we went there. Christmas is only a few months away, and this would make a unique gift to someone special. It’s a Christmas card from 1931 signed by Walt Disney in fountain pen ink. It was only the second Christmas card issued by the Disney company and features Mickey Mouse serenading Minnie Mouse with a Christmas carol. For more information on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $15,000

Disney Autograph
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)


Photo Signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill

This photograph of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was taken on the deck of the U.S.S. Augusta during the Atlantic Conference in April 1941. Besides being signed by the two political giants, it’s also autographed by Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations Harold R. Stark, and General George Marshall. For more information on this item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $10,000

FDR and Churchill Autographs
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)

Civil War Union Surgeon’s Field Kit

As you can probably guess from the photo below, this is a Civil War–era amputation kit, which belonged to Dr. Abraham Stout of the 153rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. It consists of a saw, bone nippers, surgical scalpel, and other items that were used to perform battlefield surgeries. The lot also includes a Civil War bullet with teeth marks on it—you know, for the pain. For more information on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $4,000

Civil War Amputation Kit
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)


NASA 1965 Space Suit Test Robot

This is a hydraulically powered, life-sized robot dummy designed for NASA to use in testing space suits between the years 1963-65. It’s 230 pounds and can simulate 35 basic human motions. One of just two in existence. Watch a video on it here. For more on the item, click here. Pre-auction estimate: $80,000

NASA Test Suit Robot
(Courtesy of RR Auctions)