To serious travelers, few historical figures of the 20th century loom larger than Amelia Earhart. She was the preeminent female aviator of her age, a record-holder, a teacher, an author, and a fierce advocate for women’s rights—in and out of the cockpit. The opportunity to own a piece of Earhart history is not one that comes along often.
On December 7, however, as part of its “Evening of Exceptional Watches” sale, auction house Christie’s in New York will offer an unusual silver travel timepiece that once belonged to Earhart. The artifact, sold by Tiffany & Co. about 1932, features a mechanical watch that emerges from a slide-open sleeve. Adorned with an artful “AE” monogram, the piece was a gift from another famed female flyer, British aviator Amy Johnson, and on the underside of the case are engraved the words, To Amelia, In Sincere Admiration, Amy. (Adding to the watch’s intrigue, the piece emerged from the workshop of one Henry Blank, a jewelry maker from New Jersey who had survived the Titanic disaster in 1912.)
Prompting the gift was Earhart’s successful solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic in May of 1932. She accepted the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for the feat and earned the esteem of established female flyers from all over the world—including Johnson, who had already won fame as the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1930.
Christie’s Thursday sale also includes a Patek Philippe wristwatch formerly owned by Joe DiMaggio and a diamond-encrusted Gruen watch that once graced the wrist of jazz great Billie Holiday. Christie’s expects the Amelia Earhart timepiece—which will be sold with a selection of archival images and a first-edition copy of the 1939 Earhart biography Soaring Wings (written by her husband, George Putnam)—to bring between $60,000 and $120,000.