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Thomas Jefferson Transmits the First Patent Act to Governor of New York George Clinton, Who Later Replaced Aaron Burr as Jefferson’s Vice President

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Letter Signed, as Secretary of State, to Governor George Clinton of New York, April 15, 1790, New York. 1 p., 7¾ x 9½ in

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In his position as Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson conveyed copies of new federal laws to the governors of each of the states. This letter, signed by Jefferson, conveyed the First Patent Act, formally An Act to Promote the Progress of Useful Arts, to New York Governor George Clinton, who would later serve as Jefferson’s second vice president.

Item #26389.99, $28,000

George Washington’s Famous Letter to American Roman Catholics: A Message of Thankfulness, Patriotism, and Inclusiveness

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], “Letter to the Roman Catholics in America,” ca. March 15, 1790, New York. Printed on the first page of The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, April 10, 1790. Providence, Rhode Island: John Carter. 4 pp., 10⅛ x 15⅜ in.

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The prospect of national prosperity now before us is truly animating, and ought to excite the exertions of all good men to establish and secure the happiness of their country, in the permanent duration of its freedom and independence. America, under the smiles of a Divine Providence—the protection of a good government, and the cultivation of manners, morals and piety, cannot fail of attaining an uncommon degree of eminence, in literature, commerce, agriculture, improvements at home, and respectability abroad.

As mankind become more liberal, they will be more apt to allow, that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community, are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality.

Item #24985.99, $14,500

Alexander Hamilton Signed Registration for Schooner Robert of Baltimore

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Partially Printed Document Signed, Registration of Schooner Robert, April 10, 1790, Baltimore, Maryland. Form printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine in New York. 1 p., 8¾ x 13¼ in.

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Under a law passed in September 1789, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton signed blank certificates in New York and sent them to the collectors of the various ports of the new nation, where the local collector of the port filled them out and signed them. This registration system was part of a Congressional effort to limit the merchant marine to American-built ships owned and crewed by Americans. If a ship met the necessary requirements, it would “be deemed and taken to be, and denominated, a ship or vessel of the United States,” with all the benefits of any U.S. laws. Baltimore collector O. H. Williams filled out and signed this form for the Schooner Robert, owned by Baltimore merchant William Patterson.

Item #27521, $18,000

1790 Massachusetts Newspaper Discussing Nantucket Whalers

[NANTUCKET], Newspaper, The Columbian Centinel. Boston: Benjamin Russell, December 15, 1790. 4 pp.

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Item #30051.015, $450

Harvard’s 1791 Graduating Students and Theses, Dedicated to Governor John Hancock and Lieutenant Governor Samuel Adams

HARVARD COLLEGE, Broadside. List of Graduating Students and Theses for Disputation. Boston, Massachusetts: Samuel Hall, 1791. 1 p., 18 x 22 in.

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Interesting broadside in Latin issued for Harvard University’s 1791 commencement lists Latinized names of 27 graduating students. Among the graduates are New Hampshire Justice John Harris (1769-1845); U.S. Representative Thomas Rice (1768-1854); and Henry Dana Ward (1768-1817), youngest son of General Artemas Ward (1727-1800), who initially commanded the patriot army around Boston in 1775.

Item #24462, $1,500

Thomas Jefferson Pays Import Duty on Famous Louis Chantrot Obelisk Clock

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Manuscript Document Signed, October 17, 1791, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. 1 p., 8 x 13 in.

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This declaration notes that Thomas Jefferson imported a clock, which arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Minerva from La Havre, France, on October 17, 1791. On May 12, 1792, Jefferson paid the import duty of $7.52 according to the provisions of the Tariff of 1790.

Consisting of a pair of black marble obelisks between which a brass clock was suspended, Jefferson commissioned this in the Spring of 1790 to replace a similar piece stolen from his Paris residence. He later had it mounted on a shelf above the foot of his bed. Susan Stein, the Richard Gilder Senior Curator at Monticello, described the obelisk clock as “arguably one of the most important and interesting objects at Monticello.” After Jefferson’s death, his daughter Martha called it the object “I should have prized beyond anything on earth.”[1] The original clock was passed down through the Jefferson family until it was donated to Monticello in 2016.

This is a rare record of payment of the tariffs that funded the nascent federal government, in effect bringing together Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, in the temporary capital of Philadelphia. Jefferson’s correspondence to William Short arranging for the purchase and delivery of the clock also mentioned obtaining two artists proofs for the Congressional Medal of Honor voted for John Paul Jones, which had yet to be completed.



[1] Martha Jefferson Randolph to her daughter, February 13, 1827, quoted in Sarah Butler Wister and Agnes Irwin, eds., Worthy Women of Our First Century (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1877), 59. Randolph wrote, “The marble clock I should have prized beyond anything on earth, and if, in our circumstances, I had felt myself justifiable in retaining a luxury of that value, that clock, in preference to everything else but the immediate furniture of his bedroom, I should have retained. However, in addition to the loss of the clock, which I regret more bitterly since I know how near we were getting it, let us not alienate so near a relation and friend, who, I dare say, is sorry for it now that it is past.”

Item #27514, $14,000

President Washington Approves Establishment of Mint and Issues First Veto

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Columbian Centinel, April 21, 1792. Boston, MA. 4 pp, 10.5 x 16.75 in.

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This newspaper includes the full text of “An Act establishing a Mint and regulating the Coins of the United States” of April 2, 1792, signed in print by Speaker of the House Jonathan Trumbull, Vice President John Adams, President George Washington, and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. The bill established a mint, specified its officers, and reaffirmed the Congress of the Confederation’s adoption of decimal currency in 1785 (p1/c1-p2/c1). President Washington appointed David Rittenhouse of Pennsylvania as the first director of the mint on April 13, 1792.

It also includes President George Washington’s first veto message, in which he vetoed “An Act for an Apportionment of Representatives among the Several States, according to the First Enumeration” on April 5, 1792 (p3/c1). The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the number of seats held by northern states. After consulting with his divided cabinet, Washington decided that the plan was unconstitutional because the Constitution provided “that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000; which restriction is, by the context, and by fair and obvious construction, to be applied to the separate and respective numbers of the States; and the bill has allotted to eight of the States more than one for 30,000” (p3/c1). Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had suggested that apportionment be derived from arithmetical calculations.

When Washington’s veto arrived, Congress considered overriding the veto by a two-thirds vote, but only 28 representatives still favored the bill, while 33 opposed it (p3/c1). Ultimately, they threw out the bill and passed a new one that apportioned representatives at “the ratio of one for every thirty-three thousand persons in the respective States.”

Item #26258.01, $3,250

Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Congress Authorizing Copper Coinage (the First Legal Tender Produced by U.S. Government)

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, “An Act to provide for a copper coinage,” May 8, 1792, Philadelphia. 1 p., 9⅝ x 15 in.

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That the director of the mint…purchase a quantity of copper...and…cause the copper...to be coined at the mint into cents and half cents...thence to issue into circulation….

That after the expiration of six calendar months from the time when there shall have been paid into the treasury by the said director, in cents and half cents, a sum not less than fifty thousand dollars … no copper coins or pieces whatsoever, except the said cents and half cents, shall pass current as money, or shall be paid, or offered to be paid or received in payment for any debt … and all copper coins or pieces, except the said cents and half cents, which shall be paid or offered to be paid or received in payment contrary to the prohibition aforesaid, shall be forfeited, and every person by whom any of them shall have been so paid … shall also forfeit the sum of ten dollars…”

Item #27505, $235,000

George Washington Signed Military Commission, Preparing for a Decisive Victory Against Native Americans and the British in the Midwest

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Document Signed, Philadelphia, Pa., March 19, 1793, appointing William Winston as Captain of Light Dragoons. Co-signed by Henry Knox, Secretary of War, and John Stagg, Chief Clerk of the War Department. Imprint at bottom, “Drawn and Engrav’d by Thackara and Vallance, Philada.” With paper seal of the United States. 1 p., 16 x 20 in., on vellum. Framed with rag mats and UV-filtered plexiglass to 29 x 34¼ in.

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Two weeks after his second inauguration, President George Washington appoints William Winston as Captain of Light Dragoons. By the time Winston joined the army in the Northwest Territory, he had been promoted to command the entire cavalry of the new Legion of the United States. In that position, he fought at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the decisive U.S. victory against the Native American confederation and their British allies in that area.

George Washington-signed military commissions are rare on the market, and we don’t recall ever seeing a more attractive example.

Item #20626.99, $55,000

Hamilton LS to Bank of New York Advising That Collectors Will No Longer Receive Its Notes

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Manuscript Letter Signed, to President Gulian Verplanck and Directors of the Bank of New York, April 15, 1793, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. 1 p., 7¼ x 8⅞ in.

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Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton informs President Gulian Verplanck (1751-1799) and the directors of the Bank of New York, an institution he helped to found in 1784, that collectors of three New York and New Jersey ports would no longer receive their bank’s notes in exchange for specie. Those port collectors were John Lamb (1735-1800) of New York City; Henry Packer Dering (1763-1822) of Sag Harbor, on Long Island, New York; and John Halstead (1729-1813) of Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

Item #27438, $19,000

“Black Sam” Fraunces as Steward of George Washington’s Presidential Household

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Samuel Fraunces. Manuscript Document Signed, with the text likely penned by presidential secretary Bartholomew Dandridge Jr., March 10, 1794, Philadelphia, PA. 1 p., 6 x 3¼ in.

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“10th March 1794 recd of Bw Dandridge one hundred & forty six dollars and thirty two cents to purchase sundries for the President’s Household.  146 32/100      Saml Fraunces”

Documents signed by Samuel Fraunces, the famous tavern keeper and steward of George Washington’s presidential households in New York and Philadelphia, are exceptionally rare. During the British occupation of New York, Fraunces had been captured and impressed into the service of British officers. While doing so, he was able to help feed American captives, and was credited with providing information to American troops and preventing an assassination plot against Washington. 

Item #27320, $25,000

The Second Naturalization Act - Establishing Laws for Citizenship

EDMUND RANDOLPH, Document Signed as Secretary of State. An act to establish an uniform rule of naturalization; and to repeal the act heretofore passed. January 29, 1795. Philadelphia: Francis Childs. Signed in type by George Washington as President, John Adams as Vice President, and Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House of Representatives. 2 pp., 8¼ x 13½ in.

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Also see the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

The Constitution gave Congress the right to determine the process by which foreign-born residents could obtain citizenship, and a 1790 Act of the First Congress laid out the process. This 1795 revision required all persons who wished to become naturalized citizens to go to a court to declare their intention at least three years prior to formal application. They would have to take an oath of allegiance, be a person of good moral character, agree to support the Constitution, and renounce any former sovereign and hereditary titles.

any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States, or any of them, on the following conditions, and not otherwise....

By limiting naturalization to “free white” persons, the early acts effectively prevented any people of color or indentured servants from gaining citizenship. Over the next century and a half, these restrictions were at first reinforced (for instance in the notorious Naturalization Act of 1798, part of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which extended the required residency period to fourteen years), but then eventually eliminated by subsequent revisions.

Item #24428.26, $7,500

The Only Known Document in Hamilton’s Hand on a Legal Case Involving James Reynolds

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Manuscript, c. November 1796, Notes regarding Margaret Currie, administratrix of David Currie v. James Reynolds (scire facias), 2 pp.

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Also see the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

There was also a prior Judgment against David Reynolds & his son James … but did not return the Execution nor sell till Wednesday the 2d of November, when James Reynolds about 6 Months ago came forward to claim these lands in virtue of a deed from his father prior to Sands mortgage.

In July 1783, James Reynolds married Maria Lewis. From mid-1791 to mid-1792, Alexander Hamilton and Maria Reynolds had an affair. In November 1792, James Reynolds was imprisoned for forgery in a scheme to purchase the pensions and pay claims of Revolutionary War soldiers. Ironically, in May 1793, Maria (represented by Aaron Burr) filed for divorce from James on the grounds of adultery; the court granted the divorce two years later. Here, after Hamilton’s affair was known to James Monroe and very few others, Hamilton was somehow involved in a legal case having to do with James Reynolds just months before news of the scandal exploded.

Item #24624, $30,000

Major General Alexander Hamilton Message to Father of American Viticulture During Quasi-War with France

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to John Adlum, August 24, 1799, New York. 1 p., 7.75 x 13 in.

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During the Quasi-War with France, Congress established in May 1798 a three-year “Provisional Army” of 10,000 men, consisting of twelve regiments of infantry and one regiment of cavalry to exist simultaneously with the United States Army. Although the commanding officer of the Provisional Army was George Washington, he accepted the appointment on the condition that he remain in retirement at Mount Vernon until he was actually needed. In March 1799, Congress created an “Eventual Army” of 30,000 men, which was to include the Provisional Army and three regiments of cavalry, but neither army was fully recruited or mobilized. Congress dissolved the Provisional Army in June 1800.

This letter to Major John Adlum of Pennsylvania was part of Major General Alexander Hamilton’s efforts as the ranking general below Washington to prepare forces for the brewing hostilities with France.

Item #26539, $12,500

Large 1801 Folio Engraving of Thomas Jefferson as New President

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Print. Engraved by David Edwin, published by George Helmbold Jr., 1801. 1 p., 13 x 19¾ in. (image); 14⅞ x 22 ½ in. (sheet). , 1/1/1801.

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This engraving by David Edwin pictures Jefferson standing beside a table, with his hand on a desktop globe. Edwin copied the head from the Rembrandt Peale portrait of 1800. Edwin placed Jefferson in a black suit in a formal setting, comparable to the 1796 portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (known as the “Lansdowne” portrait because it was commissioned as a gift for William Petty, first Marquis of Lansdowne).

Item #25421, $4,500

Alexander Hamilton Writes to His Beloved Wife, Eliza, About the Deteriorating Health of Her Younger Sister, Peggy

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Letter Signed “A.H.”, Albany, Tuesday, Feb(ruary) 25, 1801 to Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Schuyler Hamilton, regarding the deteriorating health of her sister, Margarita “Peggy” Schuyler Van Rensselaer. One sheet folded to make four pages, 5 x 7-3/4 in. Addressed on integral leaf in Hamilton’s hand: “Mrs. Hamilton/No. 26 Broadway/New York”, wax seal partially intact on same; further docketed at bottom by Hamilton, “Mrs. H.”

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“My Dear Eliza/Your sister Peggy has gradually grown worse & it is now in a situation that her dissolution in the opinion of the Doctor is not likely to be long delayed. The L. Governor sends the bearer to bring home his Child--I have not time to add more
Adieu my Eliza A.H.”

Item #27110, $20,000

President Jefferson Sends, Rather than Delivers, His First State of the Union

THOMAS JEFFERSON, State of the Union Message. Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy, Extra, December 18, 1801, signed in type twice. Broadside. Worcester, Massachusetts: Isaiah Thomas Jr. 1 p., 12-1/2 x 19-3/4 in.

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Agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are then most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.

This important first message contains his observations on Indian relations in America, the U.S. Navy versus the Barbary Pirates, the maintenance of armed forces, relying on a latent militia in peacetime while establishing the Navy and coastal defenses, the census and predictions of population growth along with “the settlement of the extensive country still remaining vacant within our limits,” decreasing the costs of government by removing unnecessary public offices, a laissez-faire approach to economics, the Judiciary, and taxation, foreseeing the removal of “all the internal taxes,” and stating that “sound principles will not justify our taxing the industry of our fellow citizens to accumulate treasure, for wars to happen we know not when, and which might not, perhaps, happen, but from the temptations offered by that treasure.

Unlike his predecessors, Jefferson did not deliver the message in person, but delivered it in writing through his personal secretary Meriwether Lewis. In doing so, Jefferson began a tradition that persisted until President Woodrow Wilson delivered his first State of the Union message to Congress in 1913.

Item #20822.99, $5,800

Hamilton Serves as Surety for Loan to Fellow Attorney and Second in His Duel with Burr

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Manuscript Document Signed, Bond, Receipts, Deed, Release of Deed, Widow’s Relinquishment, June 5, 1802–March 24, 1807. 6 pp., 8 x 13 in.

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This compound legal document features the signatures of Alexander Hamilton, Elizabeth Hamilton, two of their sons, and the executors of his will. In June 1802, Alexander Hamilton became one of two sureties for a bond that Nathaniel Pendleton gave to John E. LeConte to ensure the repayment of $6,000 that LeConte loaned to Pendleton. To secure their support as sureties, Pendleton conveyed 4,000 acres of land in Ohio and Clinton County, New York, to Hamilton and the other surety. Pendleton made regular payments of interest and principal to LeConte and completed the repayment by June 1806. In March 1807, Hamilton’s executors (including Pendleton) reconveyed the land to Pendleton, and Elizabeth Hamilton relinquished her dower rights. Her sons James A. Hamilton and John C. Hamilton signed the relinquishment as witnesses.

Item #27210, $18,000

Honoring Washington and Quoting His Farewell Address (Drafted by Hamilton)

GEORGE WASHINGTON, A rare glazed cotton kerchief printed in black bearing a full length portrait of George Washington and a portion of his Farewell Address. Germantown Print Works, c. 1806.

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The central image has a full length Standing Portrait of George Washington as President with his sword, after the original painting by Gilbert Stuart painted for William Constable, better known as the “Landsdowne Portrait.” Washington’s portrait is framed by a portion of his farewell address on the left, and his epitaph on the right. The bottom bears three panels, including the Great Seal of the United States, a sailing ship scene labeled “Commercial Union,” and “The British Lion.”

Item #24700, $1,500

Madison’s Optimistic First Message to Congress: A Prelude to the War of 1812

JAMES MADISON, Special Session Message. National Intelligencer, May 23, 1809. Broadside. Washington, D.C.: Samuel Harrison Smith. Handwritten on the verso: “Presidents Message 1809” 1 p., 10¼ x 12½ in.

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it affords me much satisfaction to be able to communicate the commencement of a favorable change in our foreign relations....

Item #30051.005, $2,400
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