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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Treasured letters up for auction
A letter by Napoleon [Copyright: Christie's Images Limited]
Napoleon sent his future wife Josephine kisses through this letter
A love letter by Napoleon and a tolerance plea from Mahatma Gandhi are among a collection of letters to be auctioned in London.

The collection, estimated to sell for 2m, was collected by the late Albin Schram, who kept them in a filing cabinet in his home in Switzerland.

He was inspired to start his collection when given a letter from Napoleon to Josephine by a family member in 1973.

The auction takes place at Christie's on 3 July.

Napoleon's letter was written after an argument about the family wealth of his future wife Josephine, resulting in accusations that the French leader did not love her for herself.

In the letter, estimated to be worth up to 50,000, he declares his passion for her: "I send you three kisses one on your heart, one on your mouth and one on your eyes."

A letter by 16th Century poet John Donne is described by Christie's as "the finest manuscript by his hand in existence" and is estimated to sell for 120,000.

Tolerance plea

He wrote to Lady Kingsmill in 1624 to offer condolences for the death of her husband.

Albin Schram [Copyright: Christie's Images Limited]
Albin Schram was passionate about his letters collection

"Let us not, who know in God's house there are many mansions, but yet have no model, no design of the form of that building, wonder at his taking in of his materials, why he takes the young, and leaves the old, or why the sickly overlive those, that had better health," Donne wrote.

Also for auction is a letter from Gandhi, written 19 days before he was assassinated in 1948, in which he pleads for tolerance of Muslims. Its estimated value is up to 12,000.

Mr Schram, who died in 2005, was born in Prague in 1926. Drafted into the German army in World War II, he was taken prisoner and held in Russia before escaping in mid-1945.

Thomas Venning, director of Christie's books and manuscripts department, said Mr Schram pursued his new passion in auction rooms in London, Paris and Germany, usually bidding in person.

"Schram's guiding principle was his own insatiable intellectual curiosity, pursued through his voluminous reading," he said.




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