A Rare Letter Signed by Beethoven Is Heading to Auction

Perhaps this will be music to your ears: A letter written and signed by Ludwig van Beethoven will hit the auction block later this month.

The rare three-page missive, which was written in German to an unknown recipient, is part of Heritage Auctions’s Historical Platinum Signature sale, taking place on July 25. The auction encompasses all sorts of rare items, including letters, books, space-related lots, and more.

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“Our collectors always look forward to this highly curated auction filled with special material, the best of the best in their respective categories,” Joe Maddalena, the executive vice president of the house, said in a statement. “The interest in these auctions is never less than extraordinary: The opportunity to own this material appeals both to collectors and consignors because these Historical Platinum events showcase this material in their proper cultural contexts. The significance of this material is extraordinary across the board.”

A Thomas Jefferson manuscript
A Thomas Jefferson manuscript

The Beethoven letter is the highlight of the sale, where it’s expected to hammer down for at least $90,000. In the note, the composer asks an unnamed nobleman to pay him an afternoon visit. That on its face isn’t of much importance, but Beethoven also mentions a “letter from Ries,” referring to Ferdinand Ries, another musician who would become one of Beethoven’s closest friends and advisers.

If you’re not so musically inclined, other top lots include an extremely rare manuscript written and signed by Thomas Jefferson (with a starting bid of $60,000). In the notes, Jefferson details his private papers collected upon a bookshelf, including a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. There are similarly letters and manuscripts written by the likes of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Albert Einstein, and Marie Antoinette.

A rare hardcover edition of the first Harry Potter book
A rare hardcover edition of the first Harry Potter book

In the books department, a hardcover first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is set to achieve a pretty penny, with a starting bid of $60,000. A dozen publishers at first rejected J. K. Rowling’s story about the Boy Who Lived, and Bloomsbury ended up printing just 500 hardback copies. A similar book sold for for an impressive $471,000 at another Heritage Auction in 2021. At the time, that was the most paid for Philosopher’s Stone in any form. This latest offering is one of many Harry Potter mementos up for grabs recently: A rare proof of the series’s first book is hitting the auction block on July 1, and the original illustration for The Philosopher’s Stone just hammered down for a record-breaking $1.9 million.

From Western music to wizardry, Heritage’s Historical Platinum Signature Auction has it all—maybe even to the tune of some record-setting prices.

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