Jaraveyre

Antiques & The Arts

1607 Galileo Galilei Letter | Austin, Hour 2 Preview


GUEST:
So this is a letter from Galileo, I think. APPRAISER:
Where did you get it? GUEST:
My grandmother got it as a gift from my great-grandmother in the late ’40s, and she recently started
giving away her things, so… APPRAISER:
Very nice. GUEST:
I got lucky. APPRAISER:
Nice grandma, boy. GUEST:
Yeah. APPRAISER:
When you brought it in and you put this in front of me, at first we were kind of… heart
stopped, and, like, “This can’t be.” Galileo’s autograph is very rare. Never in the ROADSHOW have we seen anything
like it. Rarely do they come on the market at all,
so at first I was skeptical, I looked at it closely with my colleagues. And then when you mentioned your grandmother
made a note about when she purchased it, that really helped me out because it was bought
at, it turns out to be, a very famous 1947 auction of a Philadelphia collector of autographs. His name is John Gribbel. GUEST:
Okay. APPRAISER:
And his stuff was sold at Parke-Bernet in 1947. His autograph collection is very, very well
regarded. That to me was strong evidence that what we
did have, in fact, here is just what you said. So my skepticism kind of evaporated at that
point. It’s written September, 1607, kind of midway
in his career. For a collector who wants thought, science
and discovery, this is a great example. He is probably one of the most sought-after
autographs in those fields. GUEST:
Wow. APPRAISER:
It’s written in a very formal Italian. Very beautiful hand. And it’s very warm and friendly. It’s not scientific, which would be ideal. Sure. I mean, that would be the complete ideal if
he was talking about astronomy or it’s talking about the moons of Jupiter or something. However, he is so rare that anything that
he signs his name to, whether it was a bank receipt, would be of great interest and collectability. It’s neat, it’s well written, perfectly clear–
“Galileo Galilei,” his full name. And below that, “Lecturer of Mathematics.” It’s perfectly clear, the condition is excellent,
it’s been well looked after. I would give this an auction estimate of $60,000
to $80,000. GUEST:
Oh, my God, wow. APPRAISER:
Now, do you remember what she paid for this? GUEST:
Well, that piece of paper says $170. APPRAISER:
$170 in 1947, which, after the war, that was a lot of money. GUEST:
Was a lot of money. APPRAISER:
That was just coming off of World War II. Things were not great. It’s a fantastic thing. I would insure it for $100,000. GUEST:
Okay. Thank you, wonderful.

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