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Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

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Declaration Signer James Wilson’s Signed Copy of, 1774 Maryland Guide, the First Original American Legal Work, Earliest on Law of Wills

[JAMES WILSON], Signed Book. Vallette, Elie. The Deputy Commissary’s Guide within the Province of Maryland. Annapolis: Ann Catherine Green and Son, 1774. Octavo. Engraved title & table by Thomas Sparrow. Signed twice by Wilson at head of title & on front free endpaper recto. Both signatures ruled through in ink by subsequent owners, other owner’s signatures on endpaper. A little blue & red crayon underlining & scrawl at head of title.

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An important association copy of a rare book with many first claims: this is the only edition of the first original American legal work, and the earliest book published in America on the law of wills. It also contains the only engraving from a colonial Maryland press, by Thomas Sparrow, the only engraver south of the Mason-Dixon Line before 1775.

Item #23609, $10,000

John Hancock Writes His Brother with Seasons Greetings, Inquiring of Family News, and Asking About the Family Slaves

JOHN HANCOCK, Autograph Letter Signed, to Ebenezer Hancock. London, England December 27, 1760. 8½ x 7 in., with remnants of a black wax seal.

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Writing from London while attending his uncle’s business, a young John Hancock asks about his uncle and aunts, congratulates his sister’s marriage, talks about his own ill health and recovery, and inquires about the house slaves at the Hancock Mansion.

Item #23234, $29,000

Declaration Signer Robert Treat Paine’s Signed Cicero

[ROBERT TREAT PAINE], Signed Book. M. Tullii Ciceronis de Officiis Libri Tres. Cato Major sive de Senectute. Laelius sive de Amicitia. Paradoxa. Somnium Scipionis. Ex recensione Joannis Georgii Graevii cum ejusdem animadversionibus. [Marcus Tullius Cicero On Duties The Three Books. Cato the Elder on Old Age. Laelius on Friendship. Paradoxes. Scipio’s Dream. From review of Johann Georg Graevius and the same considerations.] Amsterdam: Henry Wetstein, 1691. 4¼ x 6½ in. Binding: Hardcover (Full Leather). Also signed by his grandson Charles C. Paine, 1843.

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non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici

(“Not for us alone are we born; our country, our friends, have a share in us.”)

With the Republic ended after Caesar’s death and the Senate abolished, Cicero wrote what he considered to be his masterpiece—a work on ethics that emulated Greek philosophers as Romans had little native-grown philosophy. Among its most important elements is “On Duties,” written as a letter to Cicero’s then 21-year-old son who was in university studies in Athens.  Cicero composed “On Duties” in less than four weeks in October-November 44 BC, just over a year before Marc Antony had him killed. This Latin collection of the most popular of Cicero’s moral treatises includes “On Duties.” Among the famous sayings printed here:  “Primum, minima de malis.” (“Of evils choose the least.”)

In addition to being signed page bythe Massachusetts Declaration of Independence Signer Robert Treat Paine on the title, it is also signed by his grandson Charles Cushing Paine on the front pastedown. Like his grandfather and father, Charles C. Paine attended Harvard University,  where he would have read Latin texts such as this.

Item #23617, $2,750
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