For more than four decades, she was a fixture at America's kitchen table, her daily advice column reaching 90-million readers through 1,200 newspapers around the globe.
Now, fans have a chance to acquire a small piece of their favorite confidant, Ann Landers, who died in June at 83. Personal property and mementos spanning the career of Esther "Eppie" Lederer _ her real name _ will be for sale at an auction Sunday at Butterfields in San Francisco and via the Internet.
Included will be an archive of Lederer's personal correspondence with presidents Kennedy, Carter, Reagan and Bush (the first) as well as Hollywood celebrities and international figures.
There are autographed photos, scrapbooks and speeches, as well as paintings and furniture collected by Lederer, the daughter of Russian immigrants who rose to become one of the nation's most influential women of her time.
Also on sale are a George III mahogany tea table valued at $1,000; a Louis XV-style walnut piano, estimated at between $4,000 and $6,000; an early 18th century George I gilt wood mirror ($6,500 to $8,000); and a pair of Chinese carved ivory lanterns ($3,000 to $5,000).
In an essay written for the Butterfields sales catalog, available at www.butterfields.com, Lederer's daughter Margo Howard writes that her mother was really more of a collector of people than objects, which is "borne out by her fascinating trove of correspondence with politicians, celebrities and other luminaries. Even coming from a generation of pre-e-mail letter writers, Mother stands out as one of the last great correspondents of all time."
An auction spokesman said he expects the auction to be popular with professional collectors. But an Ann Landers biographer said Lederer's throng of loyal readers also might find it appealing.
"When you're a national columnist read by 90-million people, day in and day out, there are those who might feel they want a little piece of you, to break a small chip off the rock of the icon," said David Grossvogel, a Cornell University professor who did a computer analysis of 10,000 Lederer columns for a 1986 book titled Dear Ann Landers: Our Intimate and Changing Dialogue with America's Best-Loved Confidant.
Also available is the IBM Selectric III typewriter on which Lederer composed her columns. Howard said her mother resisted all later forms of technology, such as computers and answering machines, and kept several Selectrics on hand to pillage for parts after the company discontinued the model.
"She was mechanically challenged, a Luddite from the word go," said Howard, a columnist for the online magazine Slate who is writing a book based on letters she received from her mother.