Hitler: A History of Infamy, Sold Off in Little Pieces

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STAMFORD, Conn. — The items were sometimes delicate, often minimalist and always haunting: a monogrammed silver matchbox; a gold locket with a butterfly design; a letter-opener, its sturdy handle embellished with an eagle and a swastika. Up for auction here on Thursday, the relics fetched record prices and even spurred bidding wars, purely because of their history: They are believed to be among items owned by Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.

While the recession may mean that many Americans have been wrestling their overworked credit cards back into their wallets and cutting back on expenses large and small, some collectors have been paying record prices for historic artifacts. At Alexander Autographs, a small auctioneer that expected to generate about $800,000 in sales at its two-day auction, sales reached nearly $600,000 on Wednesday. By Thursday, they were edging toward $1 million.
A Congressional document signed by Thomas Jefferson, expected to fetch $15,000 to $17,000, sold for $34,000. Seven documents signed by John Adams surpassed their estimated sales prices.

But Bill Panagopulos, the company’s owner, said buyers were once again feeling more comfortable buying items that once belonged to history’s villains, too.

“When the towers came down, they wanted George Washington. They wanted solid leaders,” he said. “You couldn’t give the bad guys away.”
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