JFK letters, Sun-Times photos for sale

One of the love letters John Kennedy sent to Gunilla von Post.

February 15, 2010 3:31:26 PM PST
Some snapshots of Chicago history are on the auction block, along with letters documenting a late president's affair.

The city's past is captured in photographs from the archives of the Chicago Sun-Times. Now those old photographs are for sale. And, it's not just about making money. It's also about preserving the past.

"You really see a history of Chicago," said Doug Allen, Legendary Auctions. "This is an amazing photo that I'd never seen before."

Allen is the president of Legendary Auctions, an internet auction house in the far south suburban Lansing that is auctioning off images from the Sun-Times' archive. Those images were previously only seen in newsprint.

"There's always somebody who wants it because it's the first time they've seen it and it takes them back to a point in time they can't visit any other way today," said Allen.

By selling the photographs the Sun-Times is actually saving the images for the future.

"If it was just money, then newspaper archives would go to the highest bidder," said Allen.

As part of the sale agreement -- the Sun- Times was paid less for the images -- but will get to keep high resolution digital copies of thirty to forty percent the photos.

"They'll archive them for them, tag them with key word searches, they'll take the best images from the archive and give it back to them in a searchable database," said Allen.

Looking through the photographs is a trip back in time. From Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at a Chicago rally to Mick Jagger and the pope's visit, the collection stretches through a century of Chicago's pop culture history. Even famous John Dillinger photos are up for bid, including negatives of his body in the morgue. Whether it's Walter Payton, Babe Ruth, or the Beatles at Comiskey, the worn black and white photos are links to another time.

"It's history and this is one way of capturing that history, reliving it and being able to keep it for years to come," said Allen.

Browse the photos, many of which start at $100, at legendaryauctions.com. Some of the photos are expected to go for thousands of dollars.

The Chicago Sun-Times auction runs through March 4.

JFK's love letters

Legendary Auctions is also auctioning off love letters from John F. Kennedy to a young Swedish beauty just weeks before his marriage to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.

Kennedy only received a single kiss from Gunilla von Post, a 21-year-old blonde he met in the French Riviera, but sent her several handwritten letters from 1953 to 1955.

"They're love letters, they're not just logistics saying, he can I come and see you, here's a guy who was opening his heart in these letters. He would say, I'd love to sail the Mediterranean with you as my crew for a couple of weeks," said Allen.

One excerpt from the legendaryauctions.com website: "I must say you are a good correspondent. Under that beautiful, controlled face that still haunts me-- beats a warm heart... Best, Jack." Read more at legendaryauctions.com.

The JFK auction on Tuesday, March 2.