Development of USA (from 1778 to 1789)
Chronology : 1770-1779 1780-1789
1778 Set of 3 US Colors
2006 SOLD for $ 5.1M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2021
Lot 1, sold for $ 12.3M including premium, is a flag of the 2nd Continental Light Dragons taken in 1779 at the Battle of Pound Ridge.
The other three flags were sold together for $ 5.1M, lot 2. They constitute the 3rd Virginia Detachment color set, taken at Waxhaws in 1780.
One of them is in gold-yellow silk 128 x 115 cm painted with a beaver dropping a palmetto tree and sewn with a block of sky blue silk bearing the thirteen silver stars in the disorder of a constellation. The other two, a little smaller, are respectively in gold-yellow and blue silk. Their terminus post quem is the definition of their style by the Continental Army in 1778.
1778 Presented by Lafayette to Washington
2002 SOLD for $ 2M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
The involvement of the Marquis de La Fayette in the American Revolution is inextricably linked to his admiration for George Washington. The two men had met in August 1777, two months after Lafayette's arrival in America. The young French officer then participated in the difficult episodes of Brandywine and Valley Forge.
Lafayette knows that he has the means to help Washington. After the official alliance between France and the Americans, he returned temporarily to France in 1779 to contribute to propaganda and send reinforcements, spending at that time $ 200,000 on his personal fortune.
The steel mounted pistols inlaid with silver and gold are signed by Jacob Walster, a gunsmith operating in Saarbruck (Saarbrucken), little documented but whose competence is attested by the supply of a pair of pistols to King George III. La Fayette probably made this acquisition while he was garrisoned in Metz, between August 1775 and June 1776. The gift was probably made in 1778.
Transferred by inheritance from Washington to one of his nephews, these historic pieces are offered by the son-in-law of the nephew to Andrew Jackson in 1824 in testimony of support for his first presidential campaign, where he was overcome by John Quincy Adams. When he died, Jackson bequeathed the pistols to the son of Lafayette, who had also been a godson of George Washington. They will remain in Lafayette's family until 1958.
1779 George Washington at Princeton by Charles Willson Peale
2006 SOLD 21.3 M$ including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Washington is towering by his tall stature and by his phlegm, and surprises his assistants by his abnegation and his virtues. It is not enough. He had never exercised a command on the battlefield and his weak and inexperienced army has everything to learn.
Everything seems easy for the British in December 1776, to the point that they decide to take up their winter quarters in New Jersey, waiting for the sunny days to capture Philadelphia. George Washington will soon be unable to pay his exhausted troops. In a heroic burst, he surprises the British garrisons in Trenton and Princeton. These were the first ever victories of the American army.
The war remains undecided, and they must continue to set an example. On January 18, 1779, the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania commissions a portrait of General Washington to Charles Willson Peale.
The young artist had made an early portrait of the hero at Mount Vernon in 1772. He had been part of the reinforcements from the militias of Pennsylvania who had contributed to the victories of Trenton and Princeton, and had been appreciated by the soldiers for the miniature portraits painted on the field of battle.
The work which responds to the order from Pennsylvania is a full-length standing portrait of Washington after the Battle of Princeton. The hero is displayed in his signature attitude of modesty, without the face or the clothing having been embellished. He puts his hand on a cannon. Symbols of victory include a column of British prisoners with their red coats. This oil on canvas 246 x 149 cm is kept at the museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
The strengthening of the young nation also includes an international propaganda to its new French and Spanish allies. Autograph replicas are made by the artist. One of them, oil on canvas 244 x 156 cm dated 1779, was conveyed to Spain by an American diplomat. The political message gradually lost its force and the painting ended up being bequeathed to a Capuchin school in the Basque region, where it was bought around 1918 by an antiquarian dealer from New York.
This portrait of Washington at Princeton was sold for $ 21.3M including premium by Christie's on January 21, 2006, lot 547, over a lower estimate of $ 10M. Please watch the video prepared in 2015 by the auction house to remind the sale of this outstanding painting, the last of its type in private hands.
1784 The Map of Abel Buell
2010 SOLD for $ 2.1M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the War of independence and defined the new external borders. It was ratified on January 14, 1784 by the US Congress and became applicable on May 12.
For Buell, this recognition of the United States is an opportunity. He prints a wall map, in four sheets with vertical joints for a total dimension of 115 x 129 cm, which he announces on March 31, 1784. McMurray's map, which refers to the same treaty, is manuscript and smaller, 67 x 96 cm.
Buell's map is the first map of the United States printed by an American in American land, and one of the very first US documents to receive a copyright. It is titled A New and Correct Map of the United States of North America. The title block includes the thirteen-star US flag.
Buell is not a geographer. His map reuses the work of colonial cartographers. The borders between the thirteen states are not yet fixed, and he takes the opportunity to extend his state, Connecticut, to Mississippi.
This map was only printed in two successive variants, before and after the copyright inscription. The first state is known in a single copy kept at the New York Public Library.
One of the six surviving copies of the second state was sold on December 3, 2010 by Christie's for $ 2.1M including premium, lot 32. It has been hand colored and is one of the best preserved copies despite some misses on the edges of the sheets. The image of this specific copy is shared by Wikimedia.
The purchaser, David M. Rubenstein, entrusted its conservation to the Library of Congress. This philanthropist had bought three years earlier the last copy in private hands of the Magna Carta to lend it to the National Archives
1786 Joseph Brant by Gilbert Stuart
2014 SOLD for £ 4.1M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2021
The Mohawk captain Joseph Brant had been an unwavering ally of the British in the wars against the French and then against the American rebels. His mastery of the English language enabled him to become the most important negotiator of the Iroquois cause, and he was honored as such by King George III. He was a pious Anglican. Brant is an alteration of the first name given by white people to his father.
He made two diplomatic stays in London, in 1775-1776 and 1785-1786. Like the Polynesian Omai whose portrait was painted by Reynolds in 1776, he aroused curiosity in aristocratic salons, skillfully exploiting his "noble savage" personality and not hesitating to show himself in public in an Iroquois costume.
His second stay in London follows the Treaty of Paris of 1783, because of which the British could no longer keep the promises made to their native American allies. Joseph reunites with his only white friend, Earl Percy, of whom he had been a comrade in arms during the New York campaign in 1776. Percy acceded in 1786 to the Duchy of Northumberland.
Percy, who had a strong temperament, supported the Loyalist American painter Gilbert Stuart, in exile in England since 1775. A portrait of Joseph by Stuart, oil on canvas 76 x 61 cm, had been commissioned by him in 1786. Still in the ownership of the Dukes of Northumberland, it was sold by Sotheby's on July 9, 2014 for £ 4.1M including premium from a lower estimate of £ 1M, lot 21.
The 43 year old Mohawk warrior has a tall feathered headdress and large silver ornaments on his coat. His upright and intelligent manner is in line with his diplomatic mission. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1786 The Know How of Ephraim Brasher
2021 SOLD for $ 2.1M including premium
Larger foreign gold coins tempt counterfeiters. Based in New York, Ephraim Brasher is an assayer, who marks with his EB punch the coins for which he guarantees the conformity. He will try to develop the production of US coins.
The standard of gold currency is the Spanish 8 escudo coin, also named a doubloon, made in Lima. Two varieties of Brasher doubloons are known, the Lima type and the New York type. Tiny wear from the EB punch on the New York type ensures that the best Lima type unit was anterior.
The Lima type was not designed to circulate. It is a counterfeit of the 8 escudos of 1742, with the same inscriptions. Brasher added his full name. On the reverse the heraldic figures, hand engraved, are rough.
Two units of the Lima type have survived. Both were clipped, probably by the assayer himself to adjust the weight to the 408 grain value specified in 1786 by the Bank of New York for the 8 escudo coin. On the better of the two coins, this date was deciphered in 1991 in the cropped edge. On both coins, the EB mark is on the reverse, in the center of the Jerusalem cross.
All these blunders indicate that Brasher's goal was to promote his expertise in the strike of metals. His Lima type doubloon is the very first gold coin minted in the United States with locally created dies and a gold alloy whose composition is different from that used in Lima.
The better of the two coins, graded MS61 by NGC, will be sold by Heritage in Dallas on January 21, lot 3935. The other coin, graded XF40 by NGC, was sold for $ 690K including premium by Heritage on January 12, 2005.
1787 First Flights of the Eagle
2021 SOLD for $ 9.4M including premium
The popular iconography seized on this patriotic symbol in 1786, with the engravings prepared by James Trenchard for the first two issues of Columbian Magazine. The eagle with its outstretched wings, the thirteen stripes on the breast shield, the olive branch and the arrows appeared in 1787 on the reverse side of the Cent and Half Cent from Massachusetts.
The first gold coin illustrated with these symbols is the New York-style Brasher doubloon, also in 1787. The finest of the seven known examples, graded MS65 by NGC, will be sold by Heritage in Dallas on January 21, lot 3934.
Brasher was a metallurgist and definitely not an artist, which is amply demonstrated by his Lima-style doubloon prepared in 1786. In the meantime he partnered with the designer John Bailey. His new doubloon is superbly engraved on both sides. The centering is very good, with full readability all around.
Both sides are inspired by the national emblem. The eagle has all of its attributes, including the constellation of thirteen stars around its head. On the other side, the Eye of Providence shines its radiant light from above a pyramidal mountain. The inscription conforms to the federal motto E Pluribus Unum but the production is located in Nova Eboraca (New York).
Brasher's Lima-type and New York-type doubloons were not documented in period, which confirms how limited their use was. The gold alloy had undoubtedly been recovered by the melting of some jewelry. Brasher assayer's punch EB gave these coins an authorization for circulation and they are considered regular by numismatists.
A half doubloon is kept at the Smithsonian. It was made with the same dies and a thinner planchet. Unlike the doubloons of the same year but in accordance with the two known Lima style doubloons, some trimming was required to adjust the weight. This half doubloon was perhaps an intermediate version for testing the dies.
Heritage Auctions will offer the Donald G. Partrick Collection in a series of auctions over the next year, making available one of the most historic collections of American colonial coins ever assembled.https://t.co/lZtpZzLOKC#Coins #DonaldPartrick pic.twitter.com/0a798TEqkh— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) August 11, 2020
Join us tomorrow for a little F-U-N!— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 20, 2021
It is a coin any collector would love to own, but only one will be able to possess. We could only be talking about the 1787 New York-Style Brasher Doubloon!
Jan. 20-24 FUN US Coins Auction #HeritageAuctions #coins https://t.co/Jq3TVG58jP pic.twitter.com/wysPjhL8uk
1787 Doblons for New York
2014 SOLD 4.6 M$ including premium
Meanwhile, business transactions use large foreign gold coins, dominated by those from the Spanish colonies in South America. Banks and grand merchants are the only users of such coins. To deal against counterfeiting, they have their gold checked by specialists, the assayers, who put their own punch on the controlled pieces.
Ephraim Brasher is a goldsmith operating in New York City where he is a neighbor and supplier of George Washington, the President, known as a great lover of silverware. Brasher appreciates that he can play a role in the fight against the monetary anarchy, but his offer in early 1787 to carry out a copper coinage for the state of New York is rejected.
Brasher is an assayer. He knows well the doblon of Lima, a large gold coin worth 8 escudos and weighing 26 grams, whose name is anglicized to doubloon. Circa 1786, he produces in his workshop some Lima-type doubloons which are not fakes because their gold content is correct.
Brasher changes his theme in 1787 for producing doubloons and half doubloons to the use of New York identified under the Latin name Nova Eboraca. The pieces are stamped with his initials, EB, with two possible positions on the wing and on the breast of the eagle. Although their centering and cutting are awkward, they are beautiful coins whose design is sharp enough to discourage counterfeiting.
The only known Brasher doubloon with the mark on the breast was sold for $ 7.395 million in a private sale in December 2011, although its condition is only graded AU50 by PCGS.
On January 9 in Orlando, Heritage sells one from only two units in mint condition from an overall surviving total of six wing marked doubloons. The coin for sale is graded MS63 by PCGS. Here is the link to the catalog.
The coin for sale had been the first Brasher doubloon that was described in the nineteenth century. It was at that time in the estate of an important dealer importer named Gilmor also known as an early collector of coins.
This mercantile provenance strengthens the argument that the Brasher doubloon, earliest gold coin made for circulation in the United States, was designed to supersede the foreign currencies in large commercial operations. Other assumptions are however not rejected such as a promotional operation or a demonstration of know how.
POST SALE COMMENT
This great coin was sold for $ 4.6M including premium.
PRIVATE SALE IN 2018 :
1787 Washington promotes the Spirit of the American Constitution
2009 SOLD 3.2 M$ including premium
George Washington, the hero of the War of Independence, is one of the most active proponents of this reform. In a letter written to his nephew on November 9, he explains that power is not given to people but will always be with the people.
This autograph letter of four large pages is presented for auction by Christie's in New York on December 4. We anticipate a price equivalent to the major political manuscripts of Lincoln. It is estimated $ 1.5 million.
I would not discuss the U.S. Constitution without mentioning the great legislator who designed the mechanism for implementing such a political masterpiece. His name was James Madison. His unsignificant presidential output undervalues him in the American memory, and it is a pity. The U.S. Constitution is still in force today without fundamental changes, while the French Revolution, which began two years later, is mostly leaving an emotional memory.
POST SALE COMMENT
As I expected (or better: as I hoped in the preparation of my auction barometer) this letter of Washington met the prices of the two political manuscripts of Lincoln recently sold (with less than 10% accuracy range).
$ 3.4 million including premium at Sotheby's in New York on April 3, 2008, and the same price at Christie's in New York on February 12, 2009.
For Washington, yesterday: $ 3.2 million including premium.
See the image of that lot, shared before the sale by AuctionPublicity.
1787 Brasher Doubloon
2005 SOLD for $ 3M including premium by Heritage
1787 Brasher Doubloon
2005 SOLD for $ 2.4M including premium by Heritage
1789 Creation of American Freedoms
2012 SOLD 9.8 M$ including premium
The founders of the nation are now trying to redefine the delicate balance between the executive and legislative branches while considering also the need for autonomy of each state. Their work is outstanding, since the system defined between 1787 and 1789 is still the foundation of the US law.
George Washington is one of the key figures in this success. On June 22 in New York, Christie's sells his personal copy of the main acts of Congress. This collection gathers the Constitution, various acts including the creation of major Executive Departments, and the first draft of twelve articles known as the Bill of Rights for an effective and pragmatic definition of freedoms.
This collection was a working document for the new President. It is also a much valuable autograph: signed on the title page, it includes handwritten notes in the margin of several acts.
This collection of 53 sheets 30 x 19 cm assembled in 1789 in a binding probably made in the same year remains in excellent condition. It is difficult to predict the price of such a treasure, but the auction house tries an estimate: $ 2M to 3M. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
US people know to recognize their historical documents of great importance. This extraordinary witness of the birth of the Constitution was sold $ 9.8 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared before sale on YouTube from Fox News :