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|Founded||Amherst, New Hampshire, 1980|
|Services||Auction House, Art valuation|
RR Auction is an auction house headquartered in Boston’s North End with a production office based in Amherst, New Hampshire. First established in 1976 and officially founded in 1980 by CEO Bob Eaton, the company is known for its monthly auctions of rare documents, manuscripts, autographs, and historic artifacts, often exceeding 1,000 lots per sale. The auction house has developed global recognition with a worldwide client base and publishes monthly catalogs in print and online via issuu.
In 1976, RR Auction CEO and founder Bob Eaton, then 19 years old and recently graduated from Newton North High School, purchased $1800 worth of sports memorabilia. The memorabilia included a Babe Ruth baseball and Red Sox World Series programs, and he proceeded to sell them for ten times his original purchase price. After this, Eaton established RR Auction and began to sell sports cards and signed memorabilia out of his basement, until he decided in 1980 to send out a mailing list of the items he had available for sale --- thus founding the company in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.
In 1995, RR Auction switched from retail sales to auctioning and Eaton decided to bring the business to Amherst, New Hampshire, where the company has an office to this day. The first internet auction occurred the same year. At this time the company also began including items other than autographs.
RR Auction launched the option for online bidding in 2004. This has contributed to the growth of the company over the years. In 2009, RR Auction brought in $8 million in annual revenue. This increased by 2014, and this same year the company opened an auction gallery in a new 1,500 square-foot facility in Boston’s North End community after expanding considerably after the launch of their website.
The auction house now focuses on artifacts from American history and pop culture, and these are often the themes of their online and live auctions, though autographs are still the most commonly featured item. Their auction website remains active while they still send out monthly catalogues. The mid-sized auction house registers up to $10 million in sales every year and mails out over 1,000 monthly catalogues while their online auction system draws around 6,000 visitors per week.
In 2015, an unsuccessful attempt to bring a California class-action lawsuit against RR Auction was thrown out after no other individual was found to join the class; the company characterized the suit as “extortion by litigation.”. The California lawsuit was dismissed in 2017. In a countersuit filed in Federal Court in New Hampshire citing the ACPA, RR Auction sought to protect its reputation and trademark against online attacks by the complainant; this became the basis of an article about "malicious cyber-gripers" in the New Jersey Law Journal.
Notable Items and Auctions
- Documents connected with the Alamo, including receipts signed by William Barret Travis and Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s map, were featured at auction in November 2011. Part of the proceeds were donated to the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas.
- A pair of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s guns sold for over $500,000 in September 2012. These guns were carried on the outlaws when they were killed by officers in 1934.
- President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 convertible sold for $318,000 in October 2013. This convertible was an official vehicle used to transport the First Couple, designated “Limo One,” noteworthy as the last automobile to safely carry Kennedy before his assassination in Dallas.
- Over 400 items from the collection of Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, including Abraham Lincoln's eyeglasses, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Rolex watch, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s cane, were offered at auction in September 2014.
- An original White House plinth sold at auction, salvaged by Joseph Williamson Jr. when Theodore Roosevelt remodeled the White House in 1902.
- A George Washington signed letter sent to Timothy Pickering (Washington’s secretary of state) was sold in January 2017 for over $61,000. The letter was written only one year after George Washington left the office.
- In March 2017 RR Auction managed to sell a partly printed document signed by Queen Elizabeth I. The document, which carries the crisp signature of Queen Elizabeth at the head was in very good, almost fine condition and was sold for $36,750.
- A Thomas Lynch Jr. (signer of the Declaration of Independence) signature was sold in May 2017 for $24,504.90. The signature was accompanied by a series of documents meant to certify its provenance and authenticity, including a certificate of authenticity from Charles Hamilton dated on September 18, 1995.
- John F. Kennedy’s diary was sold at RR Auction in April 2017 for $718,750. That was the diary that John F. Kennedy kept as a Hearst reporter during the summer of 1945 and which included a series of remarkable comments and personal observations regarding notable historical figures of the time.
- In July 2017 RR Auction managed to sell two of Dr. John Warren’s amputation kits that he used in the Revolutionary War. Dr. John Warren was one of the founders of Harvard Medical School and worked as a militia volunteer and surgeon. The amputation kits were sold for over $104.000.
- A first-issue mono pressing of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band signed by all four of the Beatles sold at auction for $175,698 in January 2014.
- Johnny Ramone’s personally owned, stage-used red Mosrite guitar sold at auction for $71,875 in January 2015.
- A Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart autograph letter, written in 1786 to his friend the Austrian botanist Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin, sold at auction for $217,000 in October 2015.
- A Hummer owned and customized by rapper Tupac Shakur, purchased by him just three months before his tragic death, sold for $337,114 in May 2016.
- A handwritten and signed Brit Awards acceptance speech that Prince was supposed to give during the 1993 event was sold in March 2017 for $32,129. The speech, which was read by Kylie Minogue was in acceptance of the award for Best International Artist of that year. The speech was part of a bigger batch of one of a kind items that ranged from $20,000 on an album that did not get released to $25,000 on a jacket.
- In April 2017 a signed Dark Side of the Moon album signed by the band members was sold at RR Auction for almost $28,000. The album did not include the record, but carried the signatures of Roger Waters, Davis Gilmour, Nick Manson and Richard Wright.
- In early 2017 RR Auction sold a love letter signed by Judy Garland and addressed to none other than Frank Sinatra. The letter actually confirms the rumors about the two having had an affair while Judy Garland was still married. The 1950s love letter was sold for $5,897.15.
- September 2011: Alan Shepard’s letter to his parents regarding him trying out for the “Man in Space” program, written in 1959, was sold at auction for $106,000.
- November 2014: A 1962 Hasselblad camera body and Zeiss lens that saw use in orbital photo experiments on NASA missions sold at auction.
- April 2015: The first Apollo mission’s flight software, a Block II Apollo Guidance computer display and keyboard built by MIT computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, sold at auction.
- October 2015: The only privately owned watch worn on the surface of the moon, owned and worn by astronaut David Scott on Apollo 15 in 1971, sold for $1.625 million. This was the highest bid RR Auction has ever received on an item to date.
- One of the most valuable items sold by RR Auction in 2017 was an Apollo 11 flown command module Colombia rescue arrow which was attached to the crew hatch. The item was estimated at $100,000 and was eventually sold for over $147,000.
- January 2012: A final letter written by the Titanic’s bandleader, 33-year-old Wallace Hartley, sold at auction for $155,000.
- January 2013: A 1970s photograph showing Princess Diana and an unknown man sold for $18,396.
- April 2014: The first email ever sent by an American President, sent by Bill Clinton to astronaut John Glenn in 1998, sold at auction for more than $11,000.
- November 2015: The white 2003 Cadillac Escalade used during the final three seasons of The Sopranos, the interior signed by the late actor James Gandolfini, sold for $119,780.
- A 1924 Chamonix Winter Olympics Official’s badge was put up for auction in January 2017 and sold for over $33,000, although the initial estimate was of $25,000. The badge was sold with the original light blue ribbon and it belonged to a figure skating judge.
- June 2009: An iconic photograph of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue, signed by the theoretical physicist himself, sold at auction for $74,000.
- 2010: A Charles Darwin signed portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron sold at auction for a record-setting $27,579.
- 2012: An Edgar Allan Poe letter to Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of a literary publication and author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," sold at auction for $164,000.
- August 2013: A letter written by German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved nearly 1,200 Jews from Nazi death camps, dated August 22, 1944 and asking permission to move his factory from Kraków, Poland into Czechoslovakia, sold for over $21,000.
- April 2013: Truman Capote’s 86 page typed hand-notated manuscript for the novella 1958 Breakfast at Tiffany’s sold for over $300,000.
- In 2014, a handwritten John Lennon letter sells for $28,000
- February 2016: A collection of author Mario Puzo's papers, including multiple drafts of The Godfather novel and movie screenplay, sold at auction for $625,000. The 45-box archive was put up for auction by Puzo’s children.
- In February 2017 RR Auction sold an autographed picture of Marilyn Monroe. The inscription reads "To Tony, Love & Kisses, Marilyn Monroe.” and the photo, which was taken during a press conference for The Prince and the Showgirl was sold for more than $19,000.
- A pay order signed by Isaac Newton issued to "the Accountant General of the South Sea Company," went up for auction in June 2017 and was sold for $53,805.68.
- Al Capone’s diamond watch was auctioned off in June 2017 and sold $84,375. The 14 karat white gold and platinum watch was especially made for the infamous gangster as the case bears his initials „AC” out of twenty three cut diamonds.
- "Driven by Internet sales growth, RR Auction aims for $25M in revenue this year". Boston Business Journal. 4 June 2014.
- Partridge, James (9 January 2011). "Pieces of History Authentic Artifacts at the RR Auction House". The Suit Magazine. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
- "Interview: Bobby Livingston, RR Auction - a life spent in autographs". Paul Fraser Collectibles. 18 January 2010.
- "RR Auction - Virtual Catalogs". issuu. RR Auction. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
- "Signs of the Times: Bob Eaton of RR Auction - New Hampshire Magazine - August 2012".
- "Meet The Owners: RR Auction".
- "Driven by Internet sales growth, RR Auction aims for $25M in revenue this year - Boston Business Journal".
- Huddleston, Scott (9 October 2011). "Alamo papers to be sold". My San Antonio.
- Radio, FOX News (1 October 2012). "Bonnie & Clyde Guns Fetch Over $500,000".
- Department, RRAuction Marketing. "RR Auction: Past Auction Item".
- Lovering, Daniel (21 August 2014). "Trove of U.S. presidential artifacts to be auctioned in Boston". Reuters.
- "Want a Real Old White House Memento? Warning: It Won’t Be Cheap". The New York Times. 11 August 2015.
- "Beatles signed 'Sgt. Pepper' album brings $175,698 at auction". Goldmine: The Music Collector's Magazine. 17 January 2014.
- Kreps, Daniel (23 January 2015). "Rare Johnny Ramone Guitar Brings $71,000 at Auction". Rolling Stone.
- "Rare letter from Mozart to friend sells for $217,000 at auction". NY Daily News. Associated Press. 16 October 2015.
- "Tupac Shakur's Hummer Sells For Nearly $338K In Boston RR Auction".
- "Astronaut's letter to parents sells for $106,000".
- "First Hasselblad camera and Zeiss lens in space up for auction".
- "Apollo-era computer auction brings back memory to a pioneer in computer scientist - The Boston Globe".
- "Titanic band leader's final letter sells for $154,974". 27 April 2012 – via Reuters.
- "Princess Diana 'mystery man' photo sells for $18K - NBC News".
- "You Can Buy The Laptop Bill Clinton Used To Send The First Ever Presidential Email".
- "Cadillac used in 'The Sopranos' sells for $120,000 at Boston auction".
- Atlas, Amelia (21 July 2016). "Iconic Einstein Pic Fetches $74K".
- "Poe letter sells for more than $164,000 at N.H. auction - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". 17 May 2012.
- "Truman Capote's 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' manuscript up for auction".
- "Handwritten John Lennon Letter Sells For $28,000 at Auction". Rolling Stone Magazine.
- "'The Godfather' Author's Papers Sell At Auction For $625,000".