1767 AMERICA ENLIGHTENED BY BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
The eighteenth century was the age of enlightenment. Scholars and philosophers met and sent mails to each other, ideas circulated on variety of subjects. The most able introduced some revolutionary ideas.
Benjamin Franklin was the light of America. In 1767, he was in London, where he represented various American interests.
Franklin then prepared a long political letter, a little over six pages, to one of his friends. Regretting the ineffectiveness of Parliament in the treatment of colonial affairs, he expressed unequivocally that the American revolution is inevitable and even desirable, and that America has everything to become a great country.
This letter never reached its destination. Franklin was suspected, and his astute allegiance to the King was not enough to prevent the precious document to be forfeited. Two years later, he prepared a copy, which reached its goal and arrives now on October 14 on sale at Heritage Auction Galleries in Beverly Hills.
The lot, shared on the release of the auction house, is estimated $ 300K.
1772-1776 NEWSPAPERS TELL THE AMERICAN HISTORY
2011 SOLD 345 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
During the Revolutionary War, Americans were aware of living crucial political events. Already, they inquired about in the newspapers.
These old papers were very fragile, and have been forgotten. Writing live over the news, they are yet the best possible source for the understanding of history.
In 1765, George III issued the Stamp Act in order to rein in the American press. At this point, a Boston shopkeeper decided to keep and annotate the newspapers of Massachusetts. He will continue this passionate work up to the declaration of independence in 1776.
Bound in four volumes, these 3280 pages from eight different titles could stay in very fair condition. The first three volumes are kept by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
The fourth volume covers the period 1772-1776, and contains an index of 70 manuscript pages. It is estimated $150K, for sale on August 25 by James D. Julia in Fairfield ME. Such a grouping is probably unique.
Many details are photographed in the linked file, "Provided courtesy of James D. Julia, Inc., Fairfield, Maine."
POST SALE DISCUSSION
This is a very pleasant conclusion: bought $ 300K before fees, 345K including premium, by the Massachusetts Historical Society, the fourth volume is joining the first three and the entire collection is now reconstituted.
1773 THE BOSTON TEA
On January 26 in New York, Sotheby's sells a mahogany tea table from the end of the colonial period, estimated $ 500K. Made after 1755 in Boston and still in very good condition, it is a fine example of Queen Anne style, improved with arabesques and candle slides. Here is the link to the catalog.
It has long belonged to the Bradlee family. In the tradition of this family, the history of the table dates back to SarahBradlee, who married John Fulton in 1762 and settled in Medford, close to Boston. The young woman was to becomein 1773 the Boston Tea pasionaria.
The British colonial power needed money, and increased the levies of taxes. Sarah Fulton was active in a resistance group, the Daughters of Liberty.
In 1773, the crisis becomes severe. The Government adds tea to the list of taxed products but reimburses the taxes to the East India Company, thus creating an unfair competition against the American merchants. Patriots prevent the landing of goods.
Three boats are waiting in the harbor of Boston. On December 16, Sarah and her friends makeup as Mohawk warriorsa gang of patriots who board the ships and throw the tea to the sea. This colorful and nonviolent act known as theBoston Tea Party was one of key events of the American resistance.
1773-1789 THE 56 SIGNERS OF THE US INDEPENDENCE
The Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, issued by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, is a political act of great courage. The document is signed by 56 patriots, all of them being eager to build the new regimewhich still has to be released from the colonial power.
Artefacts and autographs from these pioneers, many of whom became famous, constitute a theme for a collection.
Thomas Proctor behaved like a numismatist. He endeavoured to own the best signed autograph letter from each ofthese heroes. Pleased with his collection, he assembled them in 1905, well protected in a loose-leaf binder.
Slightly improved by its later owners, this collection is characterized by the political interest of these documentswritten between 1773 and 1789 and by the exceptional condition of preservation of these old papers. The rarest pieceis signed by Button Gwinnett, the most ephemeral of these pioneers, who died in a duel ten months and a half afterthe Declaration.
The collection is expected at $ 1M, for sale by RR Auction in Nashua NH on December 15.
1775 Last Chance before the Revolution
2014 SOLD 910 K$ including premium
The second Congress met in Philadelphia from May 10, 1775. The Americans were now convinced that it was useless to try diplomacy with the British government. The Congress entrusted two of its delegates, Livingston and Lee, with the action of preparing a petition advocating reconciliation, more subversive because it was to be distributed directly to inhabitants in Great Britain.
The petition was printed in Philadelphia. It probably had little direct political impact but it occured in that period of political overheating which will culminate in January 1776 by the anti-royalist pamphlet of Thomas Paine.
The draft manuscript of the petition was discovered in Morris-Jumel Mansion, a house in Manhattan that had served as headquarters during the Revolution and now operates as a museum. An employee who was sorting papers for digitizing immediately understood its importance.
This document written on both sides of 6 leaves 31x24 cm is an autograph manuscript by Robert R. Livingston, confirming his leading role in the implementation of this action. Dated July 1775, it is largely remorsed. It is easily readable but with significant damage at the location of folds.
This historic document whose price is difficult to predict will be sold on January 26 by Keno Auctions in New York. Here is the link to the catalog.
The actual role of Livingston in this operation remained confidential but his patrons had appreciated the efficiency of his work. Member of the Committee of Five charged in 1776 to prepare the Declaration of Independence, he was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and had a brilliant legal career.
POST SALE COMMENT
This outstanding document of American history was sold for $ 730K before fees.
1775 THE FLAG OF THE MINUTEMEN
Since the mid-seventeenth century, urban militias play an important role for maintaining order in the American colonies, especially Massachusetts. The young men trained for immediate response in case of problem are known as the minutemen.
The colonial power standardizes the military color of the militias, first with the cross of St George and, from 1707, with the Union Jack.
In 1775 the young Americans no longer accept the colonial humiliation. War is going on. Around the time of the Lexington alarm in April, the Essex County militia withdrew the British symbols from its flag for sewing a patriotic pattern referring to the desire for union of the thirteen colonies.
Thirteen buff stripes 5 x 15 cm then appear on the fabric of bright red silk, 149 x 160 cm. Seven of them are on the front side, in the canton (upper left corner) of a slightly lighter red, the other six are on the reverse. Curiously it was not considered to have the thirteen stripes on only one side.
This piece is named the Forster Flag from the officer who kept it after catching or brandishing it at Lexington. It is in very good condition for a textile of that age. An article published in 2002 by The Flag Research Center stated that it had even kept its cord and tassels.
The Forster Flag is for sale on April 9 by Doyle in New York. It is the only one privately held among the early flags of the Revolutionary War before the stars and stripes. Its price is difficult to predict. One side is illustrated in the postshared by Paul Fraser.
1776 A Urgency in Philadelphia
2013 SOLD 630 K$ including premium
The first issue of the text of the Declaration is a poster printed in about 200 copies in the night of July 4 and released the next day for the delegates to forward it within the thirteen new states. 26 surviving copies of the Dunlap broadsides are known. One of them was sold for $ 8.1 million in June 2000 with the participation of Sotheby's.
However the newspapers, already very popular with Americans, were the best suited to disseminate such information. On July 6, the Pennsylvania Evening Post is the first newspaper to publish the whole text, similar to the Dunlap version but in two columns.
This document is also very rare. On December 14, 2012, Sotheby's sold $ 720K including premium a bound volume of the entire year 1776 of the Pennsylvania Evening Post including the precious issue #228.
An isolated copy of the #228 in four pages 25 x 20 cm is estimated $ 500K, for sale by Robert A. Siegel in New York tomorrow June 25. This document remains in very good condition. Its first page is illustrated in the post by Paul Fraser.
It was much more urgent to communicate the information than to think about history. There was to wait until July 19 for a manuscript on parchment to be signed by all the members of Congress.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, $ 550K before fees, is in line with the expectation.
1776 Paths to Freedom
2010 SOLD 570 K$ including premium
For the English, the concept of political freedom goes back to the Magna Carta granted by King John in 1215 under pressure from his barons. The British parliament enacted it as a law in 1297 under Edward II. A copy made in 1297 was sold $ 21.3 million including premium by Sotheby's in December 2007.
For Americans, the founding document of freedom is the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, enacted by the Congress under the presidency of John Hancock. One of the copies made the same evening in Philadelphia was sold $ 8.1 million including premium by Sotheby's in June 2000.
The first copies quickly reached the other former colonies. Sotheby's sells on June 17 in New York a print 43 x 36 cm with the text in four columns on one side only, like a poster ("broadside print"). This document has been published in Salem, Massachusetts, circa July 16, 1776, date and place identified by similarity with a publication in a local newspaper.
It is illustrated in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity. It is estimated $ 600K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The lot was announced too expensive, but it still sold: 570 K $ including premium.
1776-1779 A FLAG FROM THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
2012 SOLD 420 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
The thirteen colonies in North America wish to reject the British rule. They organize the Continental Army to free them at the cost of a war. The commander in chief is George Washington.
Washington actions the most ardent patriots, and Peter Muhlenberg becomes the fighting parson. This pastor creates in 1776 the Eighth Virginia Regiment and becomes its colonel. The regiment soon joined the main army, fought at Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth and remained active until 1779.
The flag of the 8th Regiment had remained in the Muhlenberg family. It is estimated $ 400K, for sale by Freeman's in Philadelphia on November 14.
This is a piece of silk with a fringed side, 105 x 114 cm. The designation of the regiment is on a painted ribbon-like stripe in the central cartouche. The textile is well preserved but the colors and inscriptions have faded.
This extremely rare piece is probably the last flag of the American Revolution in private hands.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good price for this very rare piece, unfortunately faded: $ 350K before fees, 420K including premium.
1784 The Treaty of Paris
2019 sold for $ 850k including premium
The ratification by the US Congress takes time because of absenteeism of delegates under the threat of rioting soldiers in Philadelphia. It is signed in Annapolis on January 14, 1784.
The proclamation of the ratification by the US Congress is printed as a broadside 55 x 43 cm with the full text of the Paris agreement. The Congress entrusted this task to John Dunlap, famous for printing the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. The document is distributed to the diplomats who remained in Paris, to each of the States and to the Secretaries of Treasury and War.
Despite that delay, the Americans are the first to ratify the Paris treaty. The British are suspicious. One of their diplomats, the merchant Richard Oswald, a supporter of free trade, has been formally disavowed for the conditions considered as too favorable to the Americans. Having in hands a copy of the broadside without the US seal and without the autograph signature of Congress President Thomas Mifflin, the British plenipotentiary David Hartley fears a trick and complains to Benjamin Franklin.
The Pitt government appreciates that the new world order will be favorable to British trade. The British ratification is accepted on April 9, 1784. The two delegations exchange their ratifications in Paris on May 12, now with the US seal.
Copies of the broadside are rare. Two examples are known with the Mifflin signature and the embossed seal, the other copies being only signed by the Secretary of Congress. These two documents, preserved for archives from the January 1784 circulation, were certainly completed after May 12. One of them is actually kept at the National Archives. The other is estimated $ 800K for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 24, lot 2086.
1789 FEDERAL PRAYERS
In the pious colonial America, it was common after a good harvest to dedicate a day to prayers of thanks. After the independence, the government promoted such a religious communion. Decided by the Congress, the first national Thanksgiving day is observed on November 28, 1782 .
Seven years later, the Congress invited the President to repeat this initiative. With enthusiasm, Washington prepared the proclamation on October 3, 1789. The first federal Thanksgiving day is set for the 26 November. Freed from the British tutelage, the United States may now consider developing a national liturgy.
Two manuscripts of this document are known. One of them is preserved in the Library of Congress. The other copy is estimated $ 8 million, to be sold by Christie's in New York on November 14. It is signed by Washington.
Other federal Thanksgiving days were observed at irregular intervals until the holiday became annual in 1863.
This lot is available for private sale from Seth Kaller in co-operation with Keno. Here is the link to the release by Keno Auctions.
I invite you to play the video shared by LiveAuctioneers before the 2014 private sale :
1816-1817 THE COLORS OF THE CONSTITUTION
2012 SOLD 110 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
Being now more than two centuries old, the USS Constitution was one of six frigates whose construction wasauthorized by the Naval Act of 1794. It is of course named after the constitution of the United States, applied since 1789.
The boats wear out quickly. The USS Constitution was several times threatened to be broken, and saved by the public enthusiasm. The collector who assembled a set of flags and banners of this frigate had chosen one of the most enduring symbols of freedom in the United States.
This collection is for sale in thirteen lots by Freeman's in Philadelphia on April 30.
The oldest flag, 185 x 330 cm, has eight stripes and thirteen stars (lot 13). Let us not be tempted to date it by counting the stars: the identification with the number of united states dates from 1818, and this remarkable relic, in poor condition, had been made around 1800. The estimate is not predictable: the price is set by the passion of buyers.
The earliest precisely datable flag has 19 stars. This model was authorized for only one year, from December 1816 to December 1817. It measures 320 x 430 cm and is estimated $ 100K (lot 9).
POST SALE COMMENT
The oldest piece, whose estimate had not been published, has not been sold. The 19 star ensign was sold $ 90K before fees, 110K including premium.
The highest price for this collection, $ 130K before fees, 158K including premium, was recorded twice:on a pennant of 1837 and an ensign of 1851.
I invite you to play the video shared on YouTube by Freeman's.
1858-1860 A BEARDLESS LINCOLN
2008 SOLD 180 K$
Two presidents dominate the market for historical US memorabilia: Washington and Lincoln. When we talk about photo, one of them remains, Abraham Lincoln, whose political career is entirely contemporary of the beginning of the popularization of photography.
1858 is a benchmark year. In France, Napoleon III celebrates his 50 years with a score of photographs. In the USA, the Homeric debates of Abraham Lincoln and his rival Stephen Douglas on the theme of slavery are the delight of photographers throughout their journey. It is not yet the time of photojournalism, but the portrait we are talking about below shows that the future president already treats his image. Two years later, during the election campaign for the presidency, he will sign some copies of these photos.
It is therefore no doubt that Lincoln signed in or around 1860 this beautiful oval 13x18 cm photo, lot 610 in the sale organized by Profiles in History in Hollywood, or more exactly Calabasas Hills, on 31 July and 1 August.
He has no beard in this picture, which makes even more impressive his figure with hollow cheeks which it seems today that it results from a metabolism that does not fix fats. The whole attitude of this portrait is firm and proactive, and we are told that Lincoln particularly liked this photo of himself.
The estimate is 150 K $. I believe in it. However, this historical image is much singled in the middle of this sale traditionally devoted to memories of Hollywood.
POST SALE COMMENT
This is a well-deserved price for a photo that is truly exceptional: $ 180 K, presumably before fees.
1863 THE IMAGE OF LINCOLN
2010 SOLD 103 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
Photography has quickly gained popularity when it was publicly disclosed in Paris in 1839. On the other side of the Atlantic, Abraham Lincoln was certainly one of the first politicians to understand the communication power of this new technology, which helped to shape his image of a right and wise person. His long face, characterized by an asymmetry related to an accident that happened in his youth, has certainly contributed to show him as an extraordinary man.
I have already discussed in this column a beautiful oval portrait 13 x 18 cm, from a negative made in 1858, sold $ 180 K by Profiles In History on 1 August 2008.
Collectors of photographs like the larger sizes. However, we must not neglect the role of smaller images, cartes-de-visite and stereoscopic views, on the disclosure of the world knowledge in the mid-nineteenth century.
In 1863, a carte-de-visite, 102 x 62 mm, showed the President standing, the hand resting on a low column in Brady's gallery. Walking through the battlefields of the Civil War, Mathew Brady became a legendary photographer, a pioneer of photojournalism.
On Broadway NYC, in Anthony's shop, customers found everything related to photography, for the practice and for image collection. Published by this outstanding firm, a copy of our carte-de-visite, signed A.Lincoln, is estimated 8 K$ by Freeman's, for sale in Philadelphia on January 14.
POST SALE COMMENT
Excellent result, especially when considering the small size of the photo: 85 K $ before fees, 103 K $ including premium. The portraits of Lincoln are probably the only subject that could qualify for that price range in the carte-de-visite category.
1864 THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT
2011 SOLD 225 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
President Lincoln was a great political strategist.
He understood that his Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, was not sufficient to ensurehis total victory against slavery. He dared to try a move that no one had successfully managed since 1804: to amend the Constitution of the United States of America. It will be the thirteenth amendment.
He had to demonstrate that MPs supported his approach. In 1864, he circulated a petition (handwritten by a clerk)among his supporters in the House of Representatives. The many signatures obtained are divided into three tightcolumns under the patronage of Schuyler Colfax, then Speaker of the House, who later became vice president of the United States.
This document had a mobilizing effect, but it was smudged after handling by so many hurried men and it was notdeemed worthy of being presented as such in the Congress. Fortunately, it was not destroyed.
Estimated $ 200K, it is for sale on November 13 by Skinner in Boston, and is shown on the blog post shared by the auction house.
POST SALE COMMENT
It was just a working document and it could have been difficult to sell. The result, $ 190K before fees, 225K including premium, is very good, although it did not reach the lower estimate.
1864 The Colored Flag
2019 SOLD for $ 197k including premium
11 of these USCT regiments were created in Pennsylvania. The new recruits in that state are gathered for three weeks in a training camp. This operation ends with a ceremony with raised flags on September 15, 1864.
The realization of these USCT Pennsylvanian banners had been entrusted to an African-American artist from Philadelphia, David Bustill Bowser. They are of course all different, to identify each regiment during the meetings.
Each flag includes the number of the regiment and a motto that exalts the patriotism of these new Americans, such as : Rather Die Freemen than Live to be Slaves, or : Let Soldiers in War be Citizens in Peace.
Most of these flags have been destroyed or have disappeared. Only one is located. Established for the 127th USCT Regiment, it carries the motto We Will Proove Ourselves Men, highly significant of the vital need of the African-American community to gain a national recognition. It is illustrated with a colored soldier accompanied by a white feminine allegory of America.
This flag measures 1.80 x 1.40 m plus 5 cm of fringes in the height. It has been restored and is now de-accessed by the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War Museum. It is estimated beyond $ 150K for sale by Morphy in Denver PA on June 13, lot 2161. Please read the interview of the CEO of the auction house published by Auction Central News.
An 1864 hand-painted flag carried into battle by the 127th Regiment, one of 11 African-American regiments from Pennsylvania during the Civil War, sold at @MorphyAuctions for $196,800 (includes buyer’s premium) on June 13 #antiques #antique #CivilWar https://t.co/jbx0ctmkK2 pic.twitter.com/A8pthMs2hz— Maine Antique Digest (@AntiqueDigest) June 13, 2019
1864 THE BLUE JACKET OF GETTYSBURG
2009 SOLD 40.2 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
This cloth is shown on so many images that deal with the US Federal Army of the nineteenth century: illustrations, photographs, movies, comics. It is interesting to consider now a true copy of the blue shell jacket, whose provenance is well documented.
It is a short jacket, suited to enable the soldier with the best freedom of movement. On sale at Cowan's on November 4 in Cincinnati, it is joined by a letter written by the sergeant to his mother when he sent her the cloth in 1864.
He had worn it in five major battles of the Civil War, and considered it as the symbol of his luck to have survived. It kept a scratch on the left sleeve from the Battle of Gettysburg (1863), and is still adorned with the sergeant's chevrons (but the buttons have disappeared).
The authentic memories of historic events are highly sought after at auction. This one is estimated 40 K$. Here are the pictures of the lot and its description in the catalog, kindly shared by the auction house.
POST SALE COMMENT
The price remained below the estimate, but I consider it is a good result: 40,2 K $ including premium.
1865 THE OPERA GLASSES OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN
2002 SOLD 424 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM BY CHRISTIE'S
On June 17, 2011, the opera glasses of Lincoln had not been sold by Sotheby's. They are now proposed by Nate D.Sanders, an auction house that operates in Los Angeles. This online sale is ending on April 30.
This lot is illustrated in the news shared by Bloomberg. Nate D. Sanders confirmed to Bloomberg the estimate that had been announced last year by Sotheby's. I republish without modification my previous discussion.
On April 14, 1865, the actor John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln who attended a theatrical performancein Washington. Booth had managed to enter the lodge, where he shot Lincoln in the back of the head. He jumped onthe stage, shouted 'Sic semper tyrannis' to emphasize that his gesture was political, and succeeded to flee.
In the understandable chaos that followed, the opera glasses of the President were retrieved by one of his stretcherbearers, who kept them. A century later, the great-grand-son of this captain became aware of the sentimentalimportance of this silent witness to one of the bloodiest episodes in the history of the Presidents.
On March 27, 2002, this piece became one of the top lots for sale by Christie's from the fabulous Forbes collection of American historical documents. It sold for $ 424K including premium.
The Lincoln glasses come back on the market with an estimate of $ 500K.
1865 REWARD broadside for lincoln's murderers
In February 2009, a historically important US reward broadsidewent unsold at a Californian auction house. The poster that comes now for sale by another auctioneer is certainly the same as there is no difference in the photos of this piece considered as the best of the four surviving copies.
It is estimated $ 125K in the sale managed by Profiles in History in Calabasas CA on December 16, lot 143 in the catalogue shared by the bidding platform LiveAuctioneers.
Here is how I introduced this item in 2009 :
On the evening of 14 April 1865, Abraham Lincoln is in a theater in Washington. John Wilkes Booth enters his box and discharges a pistol in his head. The President died on the next morning. Booth's intention was to "avenge the South", which had just lost the Civil War.
The assassin and his accomplices are at large, but their names are known. Posters offering rewards for their arrest were issued. The award is initially set at $ 30,000 and then 40,000.
On April 20, the War Secretary Edwin M. Stanton is upset. A new poster is published, in thick and powerful letters, a no fancy typography. The reward, in huge figures, amounts to $ 100,000, i.e. 50,000 for Booth and 25,000 for each of his two companions.
To recognize Booth, look for a man 5 feet 7 inches, slender, high forehead, black hair, black eyes, with a heavy mustache. I do not know if this description was helpful, but indeed Booth was shot a few days later.
The original copy of this poster that is coming for sale is laid upon heavy cardstock and in excellent condition,
It is amazing to note that the estimate, $ 100K (lower estimate before the 2009 auction), is at the same price as the reward offered nearly a century and a half ago by the War Department.
It is illustrated in the pre sale tweet by Profiles in History :
1901 the steel bond
2018 sold for € 25k before fees
Carnegie dedicated his last years to philanthropy. When he died in 1919, he only had $ 35 million left, which he bequeathed to charities. He had spent $ 350 million on works for peace and science including the creation of 3,000 public libraries.
Carnegie retires in 1901. He sells his enterprises to John Pierpont Morgan who creates a trust, the United States Steel Corporation. The total price of this sale is $ 480M, of which Carnegie personally receives $ 225M paid in gold bonds at 5% for 50 years. The US Steel is capitalized for a total of $ 1.4 billion.
On January 20 in Würzburg, HWPH sells in one lot three Gold Bonds supplied to Carnegie and his works, lot 563 with a € 25K starting bid. Here is its link on the Invaluable bidding platform.
The main piece of this lot is a $ 100,000 gold bond inscribed to Carnegie's personal ownership in 1901. Five revenue stamps are pasted on the front side. Then comes a $ 20,000 gold bond issued in 1903, with no revenue stamp.
The most recent piece is a $ 100,000 gold bond issued in 1912 for the benefit of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library of Carnegie, Pa and immediately cancelled. On the same day Andrew Carnegie also cancelled the 1901 bond described above and signed it on the back to donate it to the archives of the same library. The borough of Carnegie had been incorporated in his name in 1894 in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.