Louis Armstrong Archive, ca. 1950

Value (2014) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

My husband's father was a sheriff in Seattle, and a policeman, and he worked at the Trianon as a bouncer. He met Louis at the shows, and he would invite Louis afterwards, with his group, to his house. His wife, Alma, would serve them dinner, and they would listen to music in the family room and just hang out and have a good time.

Well, I think everyone knows the icon Louis Armstrong was, a premier jazz musician, born in 1901, although he told everyone he was born the Fourth of July in 1900, and who passed away in 1971. Now, who is this man here in this picture?

That's my husband's father, Elmo, and Louis, and my husband and his sister, Melody.

And we have a picture of your husband here with Louis Armstrong. And then Alma, who was your mother-in-law, a dedicated, signed picture of Louis Armstrong. But what's so interesting about this archive is this incredible collection of writing. Now, Louis Armstrong did sign a lot. A small signature like this can be very meager, at $50. We have these postcards that he signed on the road. What I love about these letters is that they're so personal. This one, for instance, is talking about his record that he just released, "What a Wonderful World." What I also love about this is that he's such a good writer. "Man, there are so many ways I want to start this letter to you, and I want to tell you how elated we are..."

In these letters, you know he didn't have an easy life. He was on the road a lot, he was sick. He mentions his wife, Lucille, taking care of him and what a really great woman she was. So he loved being on the road, but it had its problems.

Well, the typescript letter here, I've found a number of comparables for between $2,500 to $3,000. The handwritten letters, especially when they have personal references like this, at auction would be more in the $3,000 to $5,000 area. We have this fabulous 11-page letter, which is front and back of each of the pages, having some dialogue about his most famous songs. That's $6,000 to $9,000. So with the postcards and everything else you have here, it is an archive that is worth, at auction, about $20,000.

Oh, my goodness.

Appraisal Details

Heritage Auctions
New York, NY
Update (2014)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Appraised value (2008)
$20,000 Auction
Palm Springs, CA (June 07, 2008)

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