Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Federalist auction brings $80,000 for Indiana Soldier

June 17, 2009
Posted by Noah

Besides the fact that Captain Nathan Harlan’s first edition Volume 1 of The Federalist Papers sold for a staggering $80,000 hammer price in yesterday’s Rare Books Auction, let me just say that the combined Rare Books and Historic Manuscripts combined events yesterday came off at a very respectable $1.2 million, roughly, and most everyone involved was pretty up about the whole thing.

More to the case in point, regarding Captain Harlan, it simply couldn’t have been a better, or more moving, auction. I know that most people don’t get too misty when recalling an auction, but if you had the opportunity to watch yesterday on HERITAGE Live!™, then you know that auctioneer Mike Sadler, an ex-Air Force guy himself – and certainly one of the bright lights of Heritage’s Auctioneer staff – put it best when he spoke of the auction and of Captain Harlan himself.

“It’s people like Captain Harlan,” said Sadler before the lot came up, “that make up the very fiber of this nation.”

You know what? I couldn’t agree more. In an age of so much contentiousness over politics and political philosophy, I believe we all can agree that our military men and women are doing their best to the do their jobs to height of their capabilities. This is not the early 1970s when Vietnam was going on – or ended – and soldiers were on the receiving end of much vitriol and hatred when they returned home. In retrospect we know this was unfair to them and – again, despite so much ideological division in this nation – we all are in the same arena when it comes to the support of our troops.

The gesture to Captain Harlan was, we thought, a simple one – waive the 20% Seller’s Commission and give the guy a few extra bucks. It was not done necessarily to just stir up PR, but simply because it was the right thing to do. The PR and media attention did indeed come pouring in like we never could have imagined. The news was all over the world, and the outpouring of support for Captain Harlan, his book, and the gesture of waiving the Seller’s Commission moved people to the core. I also think it brought in several thousand dollars more for the man.

I think of it this way: In all the times I’ve run outside and looked up at the sky on the off-chance a suitcase of money fell from the sky it’s never happened. Well, it happened for Captain Harlan yesterday because his duty as a soldier is a noble and just one.

Here’s just a sample of the hundreds of comments we’ve heard:

“I just read the news item about The Federalist auction. You waived your seller's fee for Nathan Harlan! “Ladies and Gentlemen, you are a top notch, class act. It brought tears to my eyes. In this era of corporate greed bankrupting society, you are a breath of fresh air. And did you even imagine the positive advertising and PR you are about to receive? Probably not. I commend you. You are just too awesome for words.”

I’m getting a little choked up just reading that, as I have for every bit of praise that has come in for the auction. In the micro action we took toward one soldier, and hundreds of dedicated Americans, the auction was transformed into a tribute to every American soldier. They all deserve the kind of thing that happened to Captain Harlan, and I am honored and proud to have been a part of it.

Good luck to you Captain, and god-speed, from all of us here at Heritage.

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-Noah Fleisher

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