SAN FRANCISCO – A Northern California gallery plans to auction goggles it says were worn by famed aviator Amelia Earhart during an early plane crash.
The auction Sunday in Oakland will also feature negatives and photographs of Earhart, who disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe. Clars Auction Gallery, which is running the auction, said 15 of the photographs — the bulk of the lot — include shots of Earhart at a barbershop and making other preparations for the round-the-world flight, as well as the plane taking off on March 17, 1937.
That was one of two attempts Earhart made that year to circumnavigate the globe. Her plane would disappear during the second attempt a few months later. She was declared dead in 1939.
"It's more like a day-in-the-life concept," said Marcus Wardell, a furniture and decorative arts specialist with the gallery. "She's getting up in the morning, packing, going to the barber's and the plane sort of taking off."
Those photographs were recently discovered by a California woman whose mother was a student of Earhart's and received the photographs as a gift from the pilot, Wardell said. They were expected to fetch between $600 and $800 each.
The goggles — 1920s Luxor aviator goggles that have a cracked left lens — were brought into the gallery's free appraisal clinic by Barbara Englehardt, a Contra Costa County resident who got them from a friend about 20 years ago.
Earhart was wearing them during a 1921 plane crash, Wardell said.
The collection also includes autographed photos and negatives of Earhart.
"Normally, you get one or two items at a time," Wardell said. "You don't get such a large collection."
The goggles were estimated to fetch between $20,000 and $40,000. Wardell said goggles Earhart wore during her flight across the Atlantic Ocean went for more than $140,000 two years ago.
"I had no clue how valuable they were," Englehardt said in an interview Saturday. "They were just valuable to me. I cherished them for a long time."
Englehardt said her friend bought the goggles at an antique gun show although she did not know for how much.
Earhart gave the goggles to her flying instructor, Neta Snook Southern, who told Englehardt that she gave them to a friend, according to Englehardt.
Englehardt, who just turned 72, said she wanted to ensure the goggles weren't lost or discarded if something happened to her.
"Anybody that's going to pay that much money for the goggles, they really want them and will take care of them," she said. "And that's what I want."
She planned to split the proceeds with the friend who gave her the goggles and hoped to buy a new car.