How much would you pay for the autograph of Fall River’s most notorious resident?
Boston-based RR Auction is currently selling an authentic letter from Lizzie Borden to an acquaintance in Fall River. The auction will be held online until October. As of October 12, the bid was $1,612. 2.
The auction house estimated the letter to be worth more than $7,500.
The letter’ comes with the original mailing envelope in Bourdain’s hands, with the stamps cut out. Contained in a custom-designed purple leather display folder with a gilt-stamped spine on the front and a blind-printed ‘LB’ axe, “According to RR Auction.
The letter was written on personal letterhead in Lizzie’s pointed, elegant cursive and dated December 12. September 9, 1896 – Years after the brutal murder of her father and stepmother Andrew and Abby Bodden at their Second Street home in August 1892, and the lurid trial in which Lizzie was acquitted. The pair were apparently killed with an axe, and the horrific details in stark contrast to Lizzie’s staid, high-society demeanor caught the attention of the global media. Its unresolved state still fascinates true crime lovers to this day.
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Lizzie’s letter is ‘a window into her personal life’
As of this writing, Lizzie lives with her sister, Emma Bodden, at 306 French Street. The 13 Victorian houses in the Highlands have yet to be named Maplecroft – a name Lizzie would have given it a few years from the turn of the century. The two lived out of the public eye, largely shunned by high society.
Sorry to anyone hoping the contents of this letter contain important clues to solving the case – it was addressed to Miss Jennie F. Bras of 227 Whipple St. and appears to be asking for help with some projects.
“I should be ready to see you any time after 5pm on Wednesday the sixteenth. Yes, I’m tying the pages and need your help. I’d like to ask you to take the ribbon. As much and as wide as you can If you want, please make the color ‘Royal Purple’.”
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A search of the Fall River city directory published around this time revealed no one named Jennie F. Bras. It is unclear who she is or what projects the two are working on.
“I think the content of the letter appears to be related to a scrapbook or some pages that Lizzie seems to plan to tie with a purple ribbon,” said Michael Martins, curator of the Fall River Historical Society.
“The content wasn’t as important as a letter from Lizzie’s cell or anything like that,” Martins added. “I think it’s just a little more mundane. It’s still a window into her personal life.”
Rare Items for Collectors
Martins said he believed the letter had been sold by dealers in the past and was now being auctioned.
The Falls Historical Society houses the world’s largest collection of materials related to Lizzie Borden’s life, including photographs, letters, manuscripts and personal effects. Martins left behind the possibility that this particular letter could enter the collection.
“It’s certainly not as important as other things that come out on the market, but of course we would be interested if a donor would buy it for the Historical Society,” Martins said, “because our purpose is to collect this material and make it Public and available for research.”
Anything in Lizzie’s life tends to be a rare find sought after by collectors.
“More than a century after the Borden murder, the mystery continues to generate public interest, making Lizzie’s limited-edition signature material very high in demand,” said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of RR Auction. “This is the first time we’ve offered it in more than five years. A letter signed by Lizzie Borden.”
Bidding for this letter was conducted at rrauctions.com.
Dan Medeiros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support your local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.