John Steinbeck Letters, Journals, and Manuscripts to Be Auctioned


You could own part of the most well-known and renowned American literary giants personal ephemera before the end of 2023. John Steinbeck’s collection of letters, journals, and manuscripts will be auctioned off by Bonhams on October 25.

The family of Steinbeck’s youngest sister, Mary Steinbeck Dekker, currently holds the materials. Among the items up for auction are personal diaries and ephemera, presentation copy novels, and more. This is an opportunity for collectors to own a piece of American history.

Several major research institutions across the country hold Steinbeck’s most valuable items in their collections. Among them are the repositories at Stanford, the Morgan Library, and the University of California at San Jose.

If you want to consider adding to your own collections, it might set you back a pretty penny. Among some of the items being auctioned are the following:

  • Letters between Steinbeck and younger sister Mary, which span a series of decades and cover personal and professional topics. These are expected to net between $250,000-$350,000
  • The original typed manuscript for Cup of Gold, Steinbeck’s first novel. It includes noted from a reader and notes made by Steinbeck himself. The estimated bids are between $100,000 and $150,000.
  • A journal from 1949 that includes entries about the death of one of the author’s best friends, his divorce from his second wife, and the meeting of his next wife. It is expected to net between $20,000 and $30,000.
  • An Arthurian wrought-iron sword and calligraphic manuscript the author received from Mary when he was working on the Acts of King Arthur project. The estimated price between $2,000 and $3,000.
  • A set of Steinbeck’s personal childhood books, which include a book of arithmetic, Mother Goose Melodies, and The Toy Shop, a book about Abraham Lincoln.

You can discover the entire catalog of auction items at the Bonhams website. Even if you’re not in the market to drop the cash, the materials are a fascinating to view.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.


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