University Archives
We cannot guarantee the accuracy of translations through Google Translate and disclaims any responsibility for inaccurate translations.

Lot 129

Previous image preload Next image preload


Jack Kerouac's Personally Owned Vintage Hand-Painted Mexican Dolls

A pair of vintage Mexican dolls personally owned by Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the famous American writer who brought us "On The Road" (1957). Provenance: The pieces will be accompanied by an estate certification signed by John Shen-Sampas, executor of the Kerouac Estate by descent. John Shen-Sampas is the son of John Sampas, who was the brother-in-law of Jack Kerouac, and the brother of Stella Kerouac, Jack's wife.

The boy and girl dolls are made of hand-painted clay and dressed in traditional Mexican clothing. The dolls' lovingly hand-painted baby faces and articulated hand-painted limbs can be seen peeking out beneath the felt clothing adorned with ribbons and sequins. Currently, the boy's arms, as well as the girl's arms and legs, are detached but included. This is entirely consistent with age, and likely represents a routine repair. A few isolated chips to the feet, else in near fine condition. The boy measures 9.75" high.

These very dolls are clearly visible in a series of candid photographs snapped at Jack Kerouac's last home in St. Petersburg, Florida sometime in 1968. (We will offer high-quality photo reproductions of these photos with this lot.) In the first image, Jack can be seen lounging in a rocking chair in front of a bookcase cluttered with many objects: a lamp, a clock, a radio, a pair of sunglasses, and these two dolls! In the second image, Jack's wife Stella stands behind his rocking chair; the dolls are still in their place on the book case.

These dolls safely fall under the category of tourist kitsch, but perhaps this appealed to Kerouac, who viewed Mexico in an idealized way. Kerouac visited Mexico about half a dozen times during the 1950s and 1960s. Jack Kerouac and friend Neal Cassady's legendary extended road trip, immortalized in "On the Road", was really four separate journeys undertaken between 1947-1950. In the Spring of 1950, Kerouac and Cassady visited Mexico, venturing as far south as Mexico City, and stopping at Sabinas Hidalgo, Monterrey, Ciudad Victoria, Llera de Canales, and other towns. Kerouac's description of Sabinas Hidalgo, a town about 80 miles southwest of Laredo, Texas across the Mexican border captures one of the writer's impressions of the Mexican people:

"We arrived at Sabinas Hidalgo, across the desert, at about seven o’clock in the morning… Barefoot women watched us from dark doorways. The street was completely crowded with people on foot beginning a new day in the Mexican countryside. Old men with handlebar mustaches stared at us. …A group of girls walked directly in front of us. As we bounced by, one of them said, ‘Where you going, man?’”
-- Jack Kerouac, "On The Road"

To Kerouac and the other American Beatniks, Mexico represented a place where they could enjoy more freedom to experiment with the lifestyles they preferred. More importantly, though, Mexico served as a symbol. Kerouac called Mexico "The Pure Land" and admired its simplicity and earthiness. "Tristessa" (1956), Kerouac's novel about a Mexican prostitute, and "Mexico City Blues" (1959), his collection of drug-fueled poems, were inspired by his time in Mexico.

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.


Online Payments Accepted

Accepted Forms of Payment

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Paypal, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


We do our own in-house worldwide shipping!

Applicable shipping and handling charges will be added to the invoice. We offer several shipping options, and remain one of the few auction houses who proudly provides professional in-house shipping as an option to our clients. All items will ship with signature required, and full insurance. Most items are sent via Federal Express, with P. O. Box addresses being sent through USPS. We insure through Berkley Asset Protection with rates of $.70 per $100 of value, among the lowest insurance rates in the industry. Our shipping department cameras document every package, both outgoing and incoming, for maximum security. In addition, we compare our shipping and handling rates against those of other auction houses, to ensure that our charges are among the lowest in the trade.

Upon winning your item(s), you will receive an invoice with our in-house shipping and handling fees included. ***We will ship to the address as it appears on your invoice, unless you inform us otherwise, immediately upon your receipt of invoice***

International shipments: In order to comply with our insurance provider, all international shipments will be sent via Fed Ex and customs paperwork will show a value of $1.00. International buyers should contact our office directly with any questions regarding this policy.

Third Party Shipping Option: If a third party shipper is preferred, the buyer is responsible for contacting them directly to make shipping arrangements. For your convenience, we have provided some recommended shippers. For your protection, we will require a signed release from you, confirming your authorization for us to release your lots to your specified third party Please copy and paste this following link into your browser: http://universityarchives.com/UserFiles/ShippingInfo.pdf. At that point, our responsibility and insurance coverage for your item(s) ceases. Items picked up by third party shippers are required to pay Connecticut sales tax. Items requiring third party shipping due to being oversized, fragile or bulky will be denoted in the item description.

Please see our full terms and conditions for names of suggested third party shippers.

After payment has been made in full, University Archives will ship your purchase within 5 business days following receipt of full payment for item.

Please remember that the buyer is responsible for all shipping costs from University Archives' offices in Westport, CT to the buyer's door. Please see full Terms and Conditions of Sale.

June 24, 2020, 10:30 AM EST

Westport, CT, US

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25.0% and any applicable taxes and shipping

View full terms and conditions

From: To: Increment:
$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