Accessible to the World
That letter has the comparatively modest starting bid of $1,875.

While auction houses often lowball opening bids to entice buyers, Luray says “the family wanted [the auction] to be accessible. Usually when you work with estates, people say, ‘I’m not selling unless I get X.’ But they came in and said we want this to be accessible to the world. So even though I think the manuscript for Tortilla Flats is worth more, we set a very reasonable opening bid.”

Other pieces of ephemera from Steinbeck’s estate include an inkwell (starting bid: $185), a silver-plated wine cooler ($250), and a bronze bust ($525), which have a more tenuous connection to history. Those “don’t have a lot of intrinsic value,” Luray says, “so they have value only because they’re coming from the estate.”

The real point is that the world is still interested in Steinbeck.

“Some writers have their ups and downs,” she says. “But Steinbeck is consistently collected.”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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