Hiroshima bombing flight book, Mozart manuscript offered at varied auction

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By Sarah Mills

LONDON (Reuters) - A handwritten Mozart manuscript, a flight book from the bombing of Hiroshima and a fragment from a Gutenberg Bible, as well as a cassock worn by Pope Francis, are among a range of items up for grabs in an online sale by U.S.-based Heritage Auctions.

Fifty-two lots are being offered in the Historical Platinum Session Signature Auction, described as spanning "500 years of human innovation" and covering fields such as literature, science and history.

"We start with a Gutenberg Bible leaf, so 1452 about, all the way up to material that went to the moon on Apollo 11," Samantha Sisler, manager of speciality collections auctions at Heritage Auctions, told Reuters.

The Gutenburg Bible was the world's first substantial printed book, of which only a few dozen volumes still survive.

One of the top lots, with of a bid of $400,000 on Thursday, is a logbook written by U.S. Army Air Forces officer Captain Robert A. Lewis, one of the pilots of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first nuclear bomb used in warfare over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

"You have eight pages of his thoughts...hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute of exactly what happened...on the plane ride to Hiroshima," Sisler said.

"And then they dropped the bomb. And he literally writes: 'There will be a short intermission while we bomb', period...It is incredibly significant...words can't describe what you feel when you hold this thing in your hands. Something that witnessed the dawn of the nuclear age."

Other lots relate to American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, who vanished while attempting a round-the-world flight in 1937, including photographs and letters, as well a telescope belonging to the astronomer Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto.

There are also draft works from authors such as Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle and working manuscripts from composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.

"They have corrections and annotations...you can see their genius at work as they're writing, as they're correcting, as they're changing their mind and refining," Sisler said.

She added it was the first time Heritage Auctions, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, had brought several specialities together in response to the varied interests of collectors.

The auction concludes on July 16.

(Reporting by Sarah Mills; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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