Ernest Hemingway Memorabilia: 10 Classic Items



2015-08-03 12:12:19

July 21st marks to birthday of Ernest Hemingway, one of the towering figures of American literature. To commemorate the author, war correspondent, big gamer hunter, lover, fighter and all-round 'man's man', here are 10 items from hemingway's life and career which commanded top prices at auction.


Fishing bag

(Image: Bonhams)

This fishing bag was used by Hemingway extensively throughout the 1940s and 50s, during his numerous trips to Europe. Inside the flap the bag was inscribed "From Ernest and Mary Hemingway — Bag of Tricks, Best Always, Papa," and featured a photograph of Hemingway, also inscribed:

"I wonder if my wife can tell / That I've been raising hell. / To an afternoon of Joy / With a good old boy."
The bag was originally gifted to Hemingway's close friend Charles Thompson, the owner of a marine hardware store in Key West and the inspiration for the character ‘Old Carl’ in ‘The Green Hills of Africa’. It sold at Bonhams in 2012 for $12,500.

Matador outfit & lucky chestnut

(Image: Profiles in History)

This collection of remarkable artefacts dates from Hemingway's time in Spain in 1959 -1960, whilst writing his account of the real-life bullfighting rivalry of Antonio Ordóñez and Luis Miguel Dominguín. The dramatic tale was posthumously published in 1985 as The Dangerous Summer.

First is an ornate matador outfit worn by champion bullfighter Ordóñez, the central focus of Hemingway's book, along with a well-used matador sword known as a 'muletta'. The collection also features a miniature sterling silver bullfighting trophy which Hemingway gave to his friend and editor A.E. Hotchner, and a 'lucky' chestnut which Hotchner gave to Hemingway in 1950.

Hemingway carried the chestnut as a lucky charm for 11 years, before returning it to Hotchner in 1961 - just one month before committing suicide. Accounts of all the items can be found in Hotchner's celebrated biography Papa Hemingway, and together they sold at a Profiles in History auction in 2013 for $25,000.

Letter to Marlene Deitrich

(Image: Auctionmystuff)

Ernest Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich met aboard a French ocean liner in 1934 and began a 25-year, passionate – yet unconsummated – love affair. “We’ve never been to bed. Amazing but true," Hemingway once said of their relationship, claiming they were "victims of un-synchronized passion".

You would hardly tell from their letters, which were intimate and heavily flirtatious. This particular example was written in August 1955, during the lengthy filming of 'The Old Man and the Sea'. In it Hemingway re-imagines Dietrich's then-current Las Vegas show in his own bawdy style:

"If I were staging it would probably have something novel like having you shot onto the stage, drunk, from a self propelled minnenwerfer… as you landed on the stage drunk and naked I would advance from the rear and announce that we were sorry that we did not know the lady was loaded.”

He ends the letter “I think you could say you and I have earned whatever dough the people let us keep. So what. So Merdre. I love you always.” The revealing letter, addressed to his "Dearest Kraut", sold in 2014 during an online sale at Auctionmystuff for $35,000.


(Image: Profiles in History)

From October 1959 and May 1960, Hemingway wrote a lengthy story for LIFE Magazine about the real-life rivalry between bullfighters Luis Miguel Dominguín and his brother-in-law Antonio Ordóñez. A portion of the full story was published across three issues of the magazine, before Hemingway's death in July 1961, and it wasn't until 1985 that the full story was edited and published posthumously as 'A Dangerous Summer'.

This Swedish-made Halda typewriter was used by Hemingway to write much of the book whilst staying with his friend Bill Davis in Malaga in 1959. It was then acquired by his editor and fellow writer A.E Hotchner, who wrote the famous 1966 biography 'Papa Hemingway' and adapted several of his works for the stage and screen.

The typewriter was described as "one of the most important literary relics of the 20th century", and sold at Profiles in History in 2013 for $65,000.

Letter to Ezra Pound

(Image: Christie's)

This letter was written by Hemingway to his friend and fellow writer Ezra Pound, whilst travelling around Spain in 1925. He was intoxicated by Spain, and bullfighting in particular, and he saw his trip as an antidote to the stuffy cultural scene in America during the period. He writes in part:

"Bulls don't run reviews. Bulls of 25 don't marry old women of 55 and expect to be invited to dinner. Bulls do not get you cited as co-respondent in Society divorce trials. Bulls do not borrow money. Bulls do not expect you to marry them and make an honest woman of me bulls ain't exotic. They are normal. And such a goddam relief from all this horseshit about Art etc ... To hell with delicate studies of the American scene. F#ck the American scene. F#ck moers [sic], manners, customs all that horse shit. Let us have more and better f#cking, fighting and bulls".

Hemingway signs off "Yours in Christian Science, Mother Eddy" – a reference to Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. This humorous handwritten letter sold at Christie's in 2007 for $157,326.

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber manuscript

(Image: Wikipedia)

Hemingway's short story 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber' was first published in the September 1936 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. It tells the story of a husband and wife who quarrel during a big-game hunting expedition in Africa, and ends with a charging Buffalo and the accidental – or deliberate – death of Mr Francis Macomber.

The story was written in 1936 during the peak of Hemingway's creative powers – a period during which he also wrote 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' and 'The Capital of the World'. It has been described as one of his "most successful artistic achievements", due to its ambiguous ending which divides critics and readers to this day.

After laying undiscovered for decades in a steamer trunk owned by Jane Mason, an intimate friend of Hemingway's and the supposed model for the female character in the story. Having been found by one of Mason's descendants, amongst a wealth of unique Hemingway material, the manuscript sold at Christie's in 2000 for $248,000 – setting a record for an American short story at auction.

'For Whom the Bell Tolls' inscribed presentation copy

(Image: Heritage Auctions)

This advance presentation copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls, one of just 15, was inscribed by the author “For Martha Gellhorn Hemingway from her loving husband.”

Martha Gellhorn, an author and correspondent, met Hemingway in a Key West bar in 1936 and struck up a close friendship – a relationship that blossomed in 1937 when the pair found themselves under fire whilst covering the Spanish Civil War together. Hemingway divorced his second wife Pauline on November 4, 1940, just a few weeks after the publication of his novel about the conflict, and married Gellhorn on November 21 (when it's believed he inscribed the book).

The book became one of Hemingway's most successful, selling hundreds of thousands of copies and earning him critical acclaim. His marriage to Gellhorn fared less well, lasting five years until he left her for another woman whilst in Britain in 1945.
This book, the only inscribed presentation copy of one of Hemingway's most famous works, sold at Sotheby's in 2004 for $310,400.

Hunting rifle

(Image: James D. Julia)

Whilst living in Cuba in the early 1940s, Hemingway established an FBI-approved counter-intelligence ring of undercover agents known as the 'Crook Factory', which sought to spy on pro-Franco Spaniards who sympathised with the Nazis. Amongst his team was Winston Guest, a distant relative of Winston Churchill, who had met Hemingway whilst hunting in Kenya in the 1930s and later relocated to Cuba.

Hemingway acquired this Westley Richards rifle from Guest, and took it out on expeditions to find enemy submarines in local waters around the island. He believed that if the rifle could pierce the hide of an elephant, it could do some damage to a German submarine – although he never had the opportunity to prove his theory. He later took the rifle with him on his 1953 safari to Mombasa, an expedition which was covered by Look Magazine in 1954.

Originally built in 1913, the much-storied rifle sold at a James D. Julia auction in 2011 for $339,250.

Letters to Malcolm Cowley

(Images: Wikipedia)

This extensive collection of letters was written to Malcolm Cowley, whom Hemingway referred to as “the critic who best understands my work”, during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The letters cover subjects as wide as Hemingway's own thoughts on his work, literature and other writers, his personal life and family relationships. Selected parts read:

"All my life, since I grew up, I have been a man and a writer and it is so much easier to be a good man than a good writer. You take refuge in one sometimes and neglect the other."

"I hated my mother as soon as I knew the score and loved my father until he embarrassed me with cowardice. Tried to explain this in FWTBT [For Whom the Bell Tolls]. I thought him killing himself was not good at all. Very chickenshit. My mother is an all time all american bitch and she would make a pack mule shoot himself; let alone my poor bloody father...”

“..This new book that I have [The Old Man and the Sea] is a concentration of everything I have learned and found out in all my life but I hope none of that shows. But if it seems too simple when you read it please read it please read it again. A story should be a story and read simply and easily...this time I have tried without one trick and yet with all the knowledge I should have acquired by now to make something that I would stand on as what I wanted to do...”

Regarded as the finest and most extensive Hemingway correspondence still in private hands, the collection of letters sold at Sotheby's in 2004 for $355,200.

'The Sun Also Rises' inscribed first edition

(Image: Sotheby's)

This highly rare first edition of Hemingway's celebrated 1926 novel, one of just 5090 copies, was inscribed by the author to Dr. Don Carlos Guffey, the obstetrician who delivered Hemingway’s two sons by his second marriage.

The inscription reads in part: "To Dr. Don Carlos Guffey — Dear Dr. Guffey: —Since you are a collector, marks, mis-spelled words and other evidences of seniority in a volume are probably more important than how it was written but if it is of any interest to you the first draft of this book was commenced on my birthday, July 21 [1925], in Madrid and it was finished September 6 of the same year — in Paris — It was written at Madrid, Valencia, Madrid, San Sebastian, Hendaye and Paris — after it was finished I wrote The Torrents of Spring in the week preceding Thanksgiving of that year. — In November we went to Schruns in the Voralberg in Austria and there I re-wrote the 1st part of this book — went to N.Y. and came back and re-wrote the rest — the portrait on the jacket was by a twirp who said he was making drawings for Vanity Fair and then sold this, which he got me to sign to Scribners — Ernest Hemingway.”

Guffey was a seasoned rare book collector who also owned a large portion of Hemingway's original manuscript for 'Death in the Afternoon'. This inscribed first edition copy of The Sun Also Rises sold at Sotheby's in 2004 for $366,400, setting an auction record for an Ernest Hemingway first edition book.

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