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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hawaii historical documents up for bid

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

King Kamehameha III and his prime minister both signed this 1851 document deeding land in Moanalua to Piheka. Bottom Left: Spink Shreves Galleries' exhibit book.

Shreves Galleries

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Bidders can participate in the auction on the Internet. For more information on the bidding process, or to review the Damon collection, visit www.spinkshreves.com.

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Century-old documents signed by Hawaiian royalty, rare revenue stamps and other historical items owned by the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon are expected to fetch more than $250,000 at auction later this month

The 84-year-old Damon Estate, which is winding down its operations, has retained Spink Shreves Galleries of New York to conduct a public auction of its archival material on Feb. 29.

Charles Shreve, president of the gallery, said the items have been appraised at $250,000 but could sell for several times that because of their scarcity and the large number of rare historical documents in the collection.

Shreve said his company has received inquiries from Hawai'i businesses and collectors of rare Hawaiian autographs.

"This material is so unique and it's in such abundant quantity that it's certain to attract a lot of bidders," said Shreve.

"It has tremendous upside potential."

The collection, which includes documents dating as far back as 1839, will be sold in more than 70 lots that include originals of deeds and other property records signed by King Kalakaua, Queen Kapi'olani, King Kamehameha III and King Kamehameha IV.

It also includes real estate documents signed by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop and her husband, First Hawaiian Bank and Bishop Museum founder Charles Reed Bishop.

What may be the most valuable item is the 1895 bill of sale for Bishop & Co., now First Hawaiian Bank. Charles Reed Bishop sold the bank to Damon, in what was the largest transaction in 19th-century Hawai'i.

According to Shreve, the sales agreement has been appraised at $40,000 to $50,000.

Tim Johns, former chief operating officer and now a consultant for the Damon Estate, said the historical documents are the last of the hard assets owned by the trust.

In 2006, the estate auctioned off Damon's collection of rare coins and Hawaiian currency for more than $3.8 million.

That came after the estate sold its remaining stake in First Hawaiian Bank in 2001 for $2.5 billion and sold its commercial lands in Mapunapuna in 2003 for $480 million.

According to Johns, the historical material had been stored in the estate's downtown headquarters and in its safe deposit boxes at First Hawaiian Bank.

As part of the estate termination process, the records were appraised to determine their value, he said. Proceeds from the sale will go to the beneficiaries of the Damon Estate and to pay expenses associated with the termination of the trust, Johns said.

The Damon Estate was established by Samuel Mills Damon, who served as minister of finance under King Kalakaua and succeeded Charles Reed Bishop as head of the bank now known as First Hawaiian.

Under Damon's will, the estate terminates with the death of Damon's last grandchild, which happened in 2004. The assets are to be divided among Damon's surviving heirs.

Spink Shreves Galleries, a philatelic auction house, handled the 1996 auction of the rare stamp collection of local developer Charles Pietsch III raising about $2 million, Shreve said.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.