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Auction Date: May 2, 2014

Lot 1228: Historic Signed Revolutionary War Corresponde

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Historic Signed Revolutionary War Correspondence from George Washington Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and First President of the United States
Estimated Price: $18,000 - $25,000
Item Views 133 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Historic Signed Revolutionary War Corresponde ManufacturerNone ModelNone
TypeOther Gauge Catalog Page136
Barrel Finish Grip
Stock ClassOther RatingSee Condition
DescriptionMeasuring 12 inches long and 7 1/2 inches wide, the correspondence consists of two sheets of paper filled out on three sides, with a date line on the first page of "Morris Town 12th Janu. 1780" written in the hand of Tench Tilghman, Washington's aide de campe from 1776 until the end of the war. Morris Town (aka Morristown) is a small town in New Jersey where Washington established his camp for the Winter of 1779/1780, with Ford Mansion serving as his headquarters. Morristown was ideal for General Washington's purposes, having a wide variety of useful industry and being well located between the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and the British held New York, which was a high priority target; other recovered correspondence of Washington from the day in question relate to the planning of a nighttime raid on Staten Island, with an eye on capturing enemy soldiers and war material. This particular correspondence is on the subject of the estate of Colonel Thomas Colvill (spelled both Colvill and Colville in different sources); a perennial pain in Washington's neck until virtually the end of his life, he agreed to be one of Colvill's executors back in the 1760's in what was supposed to be only a nominal role. It turned out that Thomas was also the Chief Executor for his brother John, a task he left incomplete at the time of his death, and that Thomas' estate included bequeathments to English individuals who could not be clearly identified incomplete real estate deals and other tiresome complications. Both pages bear a watermark in the center the first a "JB" in a circle, the second a British seal, suggesting the paper itself was captured enemy material (the fact that both pages were written so that the water marks would be upside-down suggests a deliberate contempt for the symbols which would not be out of place for a revolutionary leader). At the bottom of the second page is the address "To/David Ariel (possibly Arril) Esq./Atty. At Law/(Illegible)" below the signature "I am Sir/Your most Obdt. Servt./G.Washington". Included with the lot is a series of photocopied excerpts from books on Washington, covering his activities on the 12th as well as some of the hassles of the Colvill estate.

ConditionVery fine. Both sheets show minor foxing along the edges, along with some wear on the creases and minor staining. The ink is strong overall, with a small amount rendered illegible by crease wear and along the bottom edges of both sheets, cause unknown. The signature line is solid, though it does run into the edge of the paper a bit. After his departure from the Presidency Washington had the foresight to collect as many of his papers as physically possible and a large number of them still remain together, but the early historians declared some of the papers 'unimportant' and dispersed them to private collections. Every time a set of these papers arrives on the market it represents a unique opportunity to acquire an irreplaceable artifact from the man who defined the American Presidency and set many of the traditions that hold to this day.
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