US Independence (from 1775 to 1777)
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 A Tomahawk in the Revolution
2020 SOLD for $ 660K including premium
At the end of the 1760s Richard Butler became an armorer at Fort Pitt in Pennsylvania. During the following decade, he obtained a treaty of neutrality with the Shawnee and Delaware Indians. His archives attest to the production of pipe tomahawks.
Revolutionary War breaks out. The new regiments are equipped not without difficulty. The rifles of the Battalion of Pennsylvania Riflemen are not compatible with bayonets. The soldiers use tomahawks as a secondary weapon.
On May 27 in Denver PA, Morphy sells a pipe tomahawk, lot 1019 estimated $ 300K here linked on the LiveAuctioneers bidding platform. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
This tomahawk made for a Riflemen officer is mounted and inlaid in silver. The maple stick is decorated with porcupine quills dyed in red, black and white in the Shawnee style.
It is signed by Butler and inscribed with the name of Lt Maclellan. John McClellan and Richard Butler were both from Carlisle PA, which may explain why the armorer produced a luxurious presentation piece for this officer.
McClellan did not take long advantage of his tomahawk. He was with the troops who left the siege of Boston on September 11, 1775 with Benedict Arnold, but the conditions of the march to Quebec were too harsh and he died. The tomahawk recovered by his brother was taken by the British as a war trophy during the battle of Quebec.
Important Pipe #Tomahawk Signed R. Butler & Inscribed to Lt. McClellan. On display: Heinz History Center, Canadian War Museum/Museum of Civilization, & #Smithsonian. On the book cover: "Indian Tomahawks & #Frontiersman Belt Axes." Est: $300,000-$500,000. https://t.co/jKTVLvWc45 pic.twitter.com/OyyaLPlSUu— Morphy Auctions (@MorphyAuctions) May 7, 2020
1776 The Dunlap Broadside
2000 SOLD for $ 8.1M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
On July 4, 1776 the original manuscript of the Declaration was signed by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress and especially of this memorable session, and by Charles Thomson, secretary of the Congress. From then they had to act in a hurry to propagate the information in the thirteen colonies and to the army. They had no time left for preparing a clean copy of that draft amended during the debates or a fortiori to have it signed by the delegates who have just approved its text.
The manuscript is forwarded to John Dunlap, a printer operating in Philadelphia who is the usual contractor for official Congress documents. The broadside is printed during the night of July 4 to 5. The manuscript no longer matters : it is lost in this operation. Hancock organizes the distribution of the document while urging each recipient to disclose the text by any appropriate means.
The quantity of copies of the Dunlap broadside is not known although the figure of 200 seems fair. 25 copies survive. Almost all are in US institutions or museums.
One of them was found in 1989 by a bargain hunter in the backside of the frame of a torn painting that he had just bought. It was sold for $ 8.1M including premium by Sotheby's on June 29, 2000, a record at the time for an Internet auction.
The buyer was the television producer Norman Lear supported by Internet entrepreneur David Hayden. Lear is not a collector. He immediately organized the Declaration of Independence Road Trip, a non-profit organization committed for displaying this historic document to as many people as possible through tours from city to city.
1776 Silver, Brass and Pewter
2015 SOLD for $ 1.53M including premium
This early US metal coinage remained confidential and was limited to the year 1776, but a significant quantity has been achieved, probably to test the capability of mass production. Heritage estimate that about 1,000 of them survive.
Some variations exist, because the dies were made by craft and wore out quickly, but also because a few engravers were involved. The operators also had to correct misspellings. Three metals were used: silver, brass and pewter. The majority of them are in pewter, abundant in North America at that time. This surprising diversity is certainly due to the still experimental nature of the project.
The earliest variant, described under code 1-A by Newman, was soon abandoned because its dotted rings were too difficult to perform repeatedly.
The sale by Heritage in Orlando on January 7 and 8 includes no less than fifteen of these Continental Dollars. Two are in silver, three in brass and the other ten in pewter.
The Newman 1-A brass coin is graded MS63 by NGC (lot 5834, January 8). It is the best from three 1-A known in brass. The Newman 1-A in pewter is the only known specimen of the original sub-variant in this material, identified by Heritage during the preparation of the auction (lot 4004, January 7).
The two silver coins are a Newman 1-C graded XF40 by NGC, the best from two known silver 1-C (lot 5838, January 8) and a Newman 3-D graded MS62 by NGC (lot 5842, January 8). Only one other silver 3-D is known. Graded MS63 by NGC, it was sold for $ 1.4 million including premium by Heritage on May 16, 2014.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Both silver dollars : $ 1.53M each
Brass dollar : $ 376K
Pewter dollar : $ 118K
1776 The Dollar of the Continental Congress
2014 SOLD 1.4 M$ including premium
The $ 1 bill is an immediate failure, probably because it would require to print huge quantities to meet the need. Metal coins are minted in pewter, brass and silver.
These $ 1 Continental Currency coins are extremely rare and were not documented in their time. Some dies are signed. For such a small amount of money, it cannot be a private mint but indeed the pattern experiments to develop the coinage of the future independent state.
In silver, only four units are known. One of them is in remarkable condition, graded MS63 by NGC. It is the most correct variant, after and before misspellings in the word 'currency' and signed by the engraver (EG).
This coin was acquired in 1956 by Eric P. Newman. It is the top lot in the sale held on May 16 in New York by Heritage dispersing nearly 700 coins of colonial North America from the collection of the now centenarian numismatist. it is lot 30423 is the catalog.
Note on the reverse the circular chain of the thirteen colonies. Each one is identified in a ring. In 1793, when this symbol was reused without naming the states, the chain cent will be booed by the patriots as a symbol of slavery and almost immediately withdrawn.
POST SALE COMMENT
This highly rare silver coin of the American Revolution was sold for $ 1.4 million including premium.
1776 Announcement in Salem
2018 SOLD for $ 1.2M including premium
The official broadside of the Congress is printed by Dunlap in Philadelphia in the early morning of July 5, 1776 and passed on to the delegates for disclosure in the thirteen colonies without waiting for the ratification. This document is directly or indirectly the source of all early publications of the Declaration.
The Declaration reaches Boston on July 13 and Watertown three days later. The executive Council of Massachusetts meeting in Watertown decides on July 17 a new edition of the broadside for use by religion ministers. It adds in post scriptum a requirement to read the text aloud after the Divine service of the very first Lord's Day following the receipt of the document.
This edition by order of the Massachusetts Council is commissioned to the official printer of the colony, Ezekiel Russell, working in Salem. Very similar to the Dunlap edition, it is typed in a single broad column.
Russell was also the printer of Salem's only newspaper, The American Gazette. The Council was unaware that the Declaration had already been published in the No. 5 of this new weekly paper on 16 July in four narrow columns spreading over two pages. During the composition of this issue the same four columns had been printed as a 43 x 36 cm broadside, perhaps by the Gazette's publisher for his personal trade. A copy was sold for $ 570K including premium by Sotheby's on June 17, 2010.
On July 23 the No. 6 of The American Gazette is devoted to the Declaration as authorized by the Council, with a few words apologizing to readers for that exclusive content. The authorized broadside 50 x 40 cm was certainly printed simultaneously. A poor copy was sold for $ 510K including premium by Heritage on April 5, 2016. A very fresh copy passed at Sotheby's in New York on June 19, 2015 and is estimated $ 1M in the same auction room on January 17, lot 176.
On August 5 the Council approves its official broadside. Both examples discussed above identify on their back the recipient Reverend and his parish. The American Gazette had permanently ceased its publication after its No. 7, probably due to a break of partnership between publisher and printer.
1776 The Signature of John Hancock
2020 SOLD for $ 1.04M including premium
The Congress debates the strategy concerning England : equitable reconciliation or separation. The supporters of independence form a committee in charge of preparing a declaration which is written by Jefferson.
Hancock chairs the session of July 4, 1776 during which the delegates accept the text of the committee of the independence. Now time is running out. John Adams will say later : "We were all in haste". The document prepared by Jefferson is signed by Hancock and attested by the Congress secretary, Charles Thomson. It is immediately supplied to John Dunlap, the official printer of the documents of the Congress.
During the night of July 4 to 5, Dunlap prints a broadcast in approximately 200 copies. To accompany the broadcast, Hancock prepares a letter encouraging its public proclamation. The letter is written by a clerk in thirteen copies on July 5 and 6, and mailed to either a personality or a committee in each of the thirteen colonies. A similar shipment was made to two war leaders including Washington.
Each letter is signed by Hancock. His powerful signature, very legible and underlined with a small monogram, is still proverbial in the United States.
On January 27 in New York, Sotheby's sells one of the letters signed by Hancock, lot 2271 estimated $ 600K. The name of the recipient state has been scratched. It is not one of the nine letters to states whose addressee has been identified. By elimination, it is the announcement of the Declaration by Hancock for use in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia. Five letters from the nine for which the recipient is documented are currently lost.
Delegates were not invited to sign beside Hancock and Thomson during the July 4 session. The original manuscript is lost, possibly destroyed by Dunlap after use. On July 19, the Congress decides to prepare a new manuscript copy on parchment to receive all the signatures.
1776 Pennsylvania Evening Post
2012 SOLD for $ 720K including premium by Sotheby's
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.
1777 British Survey in America
2012 SOLD 780 K$ including premium
In 1776, the British military cartography is the best in the world. The outbreak of the war with the rebels in North America requires a mastery of the land of this distant country by the expeditionary force, and generates a very specific type of map identified as the Campaign Headquarters Map.
They are very detailed manuscript maps made to be used by the staff. Officers of the guides are drawing the regions which they have personally surveyed. The document is a general map of the region in which are inserted several more detailed plans relating to battles, encampments or cities.
These maps record the memory of military movements by the British forces, their enemies and their allies on land and sea, with codes of colors and symbols that allow a rapid interpretation of this highly complex information.
On December 7 in New York, Christie's sells a Campaign Headquarters Map particularly interesting because it describes the campaign of New York in the early months of the war, from August to December 1776, including the seizure of the city by the British. The inserted plans are devoted to the Battle of White Plains and to Brunswick NewJersey encampment.
This document on paper mounted on linen, 152 x 113 cm, was drawn in 1777 by Captain Charles Blaskowitz. It is estimated $ 700K. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This interesting map was sold $ 780K including premium. This is its fair price. One year ago, I discussed a similar work made slightly later by another cartographer which had remained unsold from an estimate of $ 1M.