University Archives

Lot 178

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Jack Kerouac Inscribed Balance Sheet Tracking Older Sister Caroline's "I.O.U.s"

A small lot relating to the family finances of Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the famous American writer who brought us "On The Road" (1957). At least one section of the handwritten ledger is inscribed by Jack Kerouac as "Oct. 21 '63 / check #170 / Further loan of $500 to Blakes / 2462.00." The lot consists of a Western Union telegram and two sheets of blue-ruled notepaper inscribed overall with loan and repayment information. Representative pieces in the lot are stamped with the Jack Kerouac Estate stamp. Expected paper folds and wrinkles. Isolated stains and areas of ink bleed-through, else near fine. Each page of notepaper measures 6" x 9."

Jack Kerouac and his mother Gabrielle-Ange Lévesque Kerouac (1895-1973) gave loans to Jack's older sister Gabrielle Caroline "Ti Nin" Kerouac Blake (1918-1964) and his brother-in-law Paul Blake, Sr. (1922-1972). At least one section of the ongoing tally is in Jack Kerouac's handwriting, where he recorded an emergency loan of $500 issued to the Blakes on October 21, 1963. This last loan had been prompted by Caroline's heartbreaking telegram, included within this lot: "Mom I'm desperate will you wire me $500 Letter will Explain." The other handwriting found in the ledger is assumed to belong to Gabrielle.

Between March 1961 and October 1963, Jack and his mother gave three loans to Caroline and Paul Blake, Sr.; a first loan of $3,000 in March 1961; a second loan of $1,000 loan in November 1962; and a third loan of $500 in October 1963. The Blakes paid back their loans in installments of $25-100 on a mostly monthly basis. The ledger stops in October 1963, with an outstanding balance of $2,462 or just over $21,000 in 2020 currency. It is highly unlikely that Caroline was ever able to repay her family's loans, as she died less than a year later of a heart attack at the age of 45.

Kerouac maintained his older sister had died of a "broken heart." In early 1964, Caroline's husband Paul had left her for another woman, effectively abandoning her and their teenaged son Paul Blake, Jr. (1948-2018). Without alimony or child support, Caroline had resorted to selling off furniture and eventually her house. She moved into an apartment where she did yardwork to reduce her rent. Also, as we know, she was supported in part by the generosity of her sole surviving sibling and parent.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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September 30, 2020 10:30 AM EDT

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From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000