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Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)
Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)

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Siege of Boston: George Washington & Thomas Gage Exchange Strong Words on Prisoner’s Treatment

[Siege of Boston], The Pennsylvania Ledger. Newspaper. September 30, 1775, Philadelphia: James Humphreys Jr. 4 pp., 10 x 15⅞ in.

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You affect, Sir, to despise all rank, not derived from the same source with your own. I cannot conceive one more honorable than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest source, and original fountain of all power.

Item #30007.053, $1,500

Pulling Down New York’s Statue of King George III

[American Revolution], La Destruction de la Statue Royale a Nouvelle Yorck.... Paris: François Xavier Habermann, [ca. 1776], engraving was done in Paris, but the title was printed in German, a testament to wider European interest in events in America. Hand-colored. Light fold lines. Approx.18 x 11-7/8 in. There was no sketch artist on hand, so Vue d’optique images like this show entirely imagined views.

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After the Declaration of Independence was read to the Continental Army in New York on July 9, 1776, a boisterous crowd of soldiers, sailors and citizens headed to the huge gilt lead equestrian statue of King George III which had been installed on Bowling Green only six years earlier. The crowd toppled his Majesty, who then made his first Broadway appearance before being carted to Connecticut. The head was rescued by Tory sympathizers, and later spotted in the home of Lord Townshend. The rest of the King and the horse he rode in on was melted down. In a truly epic burn, Ebenezer Hazard remarked that the redcoats “will probably have melted majesty fired at them.” Indeed they did; the sculpture was used to make 42,088 bullets.

Item #21297.99, $1,800

Declaration Signer George Ross Gets Promissory Note for First Treason Trial in Pennsylvania

GEORGE ROSS, Document Signed in text in Docketing. Promissory note of Joseph Malin to George Ross, September 16, 1778. 2 pp.

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Item #24194.02, $1,250

1775 Printing at Harvard College: Accounts of Battles of Lexington and Concord; Report of British “Black List” of Patriot “Rebels to Execute”; PA. & N.Y. Associations Support Mass.

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. The New-England Chronicle, or the Essex Gazette, May 2-12, 1775 (Vol. 8, No. 354). Cambridge, Harvard College: Samuel Hall and Ebenezer Hall. 4 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

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Just weeks after “the shot heard ’round the world,” this American newspaper from Cambridge published excerpts from several intercepted British soldiers’ letters about their experiences in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as much other revolutionary content.

some of the Peasants fired on us…. they did not fight us like a regular Army, only like Savages, behind Trees and Stone Walls, and out of the Woods and Houses…. this extensive Continent is all in Arms against us: These people are very numerous, and full as bad as the Indians for scalping and cutting the dead Men’s Ears and Noses off, and those they get alive....

Item #26145, $6,800

“Unite or Die” Masthead Paper with Great Revolutionary War Content

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Journal; and the Weekly Advertiser, January 11, 1775 (No. 1675). Philadelphia: William and Thomas Bradford. 4 pp., 10⅛ x 16⅛ in.

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the greatest duty you can discharge to your country, will be to follow the directions of that respectable body, which you chose to be the guardian of your liberty....

The excellent Revolutionary War content starts with the masthead. Benjamin Franklin first created the image of a snake dissected into separate segments to illustrate the disunity of the thirteen colonies during the French and Indian War, and published it in his Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. Twenty years later, Philadelphia printers William Bradford and his son Thomas Bradford resurrected the image for the cause of Independence and featured it in the masthead of The Pennsylvania Journal from July 12, 1774, through October 18, 1775. The Bradfords added a ninth segment to the tail of the snake to represent Georgia, which Franklin had not done. In both iterations, the New England states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were represented by a single segment. At the time of this issue and for five more months, Delaware was a part of Pennsylvania.

Item #26144, $7,500

African American Revolutionary War Soldier Receives Pay from Connecticut

[AFRICAN AMERICANA; AMERICAN REVOLUTION], Two documents: Isaac Sherman, Document Signed, Certificate of Service for Job Leason, October 23, 1782. 1 p.; with: Abram Clark, Partially Printed Document Signed, Receipt, December 5, 1782, Hartford, Connecticut. 1 p.

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Item #24657.01-.02, $3,200

Washington Cryptically Dreams of Resigning, Feigns Insult and Teases McHenry for Delayed Answer to Queries on Funding the Army

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to James McHenry. August 15, 1782. Newburgh, N.Y. 2 pp., including integral address leaf. 7½ x 11½ in.

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I was in pain … resolving (like a man in the last agony) not to follow the trade & occupation of a G---- [General] any more.… Do not my dear Doctor tease your Mistress in this manner – much less your Wife, when you get one.”

In this highly personal letter, Washington offers a glimpse of the man behind the otherwise stolid image. After victory at Yorktown, Americans were awaiting news of a final peace treaty from Paris. Washington remained head of the Continental Army, and warily watched British General Sir Henry Clinton’s army in New York City. For all its friendly tone and nebulous phrases, Washington and McHenry are actually discussing the very serious business of funding and maintaining troop levels to discourage future British actions.

Item #20987.99, $120,000

“Cato” (William Smith, first Provost of College of Philadelphia) Opposes Common Sense, and “Cassandra” (Penn’s Professor of Mathematics) Answers

[THOMAS PAINE], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Ledger: Or the Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, & New-Jersey Weekly Advertiser, April 13, 1776. Including Cato’s Letter VI, “To the People of Pennsylvania,” attacking Common Sense on political and religious grounds. This issue also prints the first part of Letter II by “Cassandra” [James Cannon]. Philadelphia: James Humphreys Jr. 4 pp., 10 x 16 in.

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you have only entertained us with some loose declamations upon abuses in the English government; and shocked us, for want of better arguments, by a perversion of things sacred; filling the papers with personal invectives, and calumnies against all who cannot swallow, at a venture, every crude notion, you may cook up as the politics of the day. This will as little agree with the stomachs of others as with mine; although I have declared that, when the last necessity comes, I have no expedient in view but to take my chance with you, for better and for worse.

Liberty or Slavery is now the question. Let us but fairly discover to the inhabitants of these Colonies on which side Liberty has erected her banner and we will leave it to them to determine whether they would choose Liberty tho’ accompanied with war, or Slavery attended by peace.

Item #25382, $1,600

Masonic Constitution Dedicated to George Washington, with frontispiece Masonic Coats of Arms by Future Chief Engraver of the US Mint

[GEORGE WASHINGTON]. LAURENCE DERMOTT, Book. Ahiman Rezon [Help to a Brother] abridged and digested: as a Help to all that are, or would be Free and Accepted Masons. To which is added, A Sermon, Preached in Christ-Church, Philadelphia, At A General Communication, Celebrated, agreeable to the Constitutions, on Monday, December 28, 1778, as the Anniversary of St. John the Evangelist. Published by order of The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, by William Smith, D.D. Philadelphia: Hall and Sellers, 1783. 4¾ x 7⅝ in.; engraved frontispiece, xvi, 166 pp. First edition.

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In Testimony, as well as of his exalted Services to his Country as of that noble

Philanthropy which distinguishes Him among Masons

This is the scarce first American edition of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania’s Masonic Constitution, dedicated to Washington as “General and Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States of America.

The 1778 sermon included in this volume carries a similar dedication, as well as a detailed description of the procession in which “our illustrious Brother George Washington” marched as guest of honor. The sermon itself contains a remarkably prescient characterization of Washington as an American Cincinnatus. The volume’s fine frontispiece engraving of two Masonic coats-of-arms is by Robert Scot (Scott), future chief engraver of the United States Mint.

Item #25745, $1,450

Financing the New Nation at the End of the American Revolution

ROBERT MORRIS, Manuscript Letter Signed, to William Moore, President of Pennsylvania, January 3, 1782, Philadelphia. 1 p., 7⅜ x 7⅜ in.

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On October 19, 1781, the date of the British surrender at Yorktown, Robert Morris, as Superintendent of Finance of the United States, sent a circular to the governors of each of the states. In it, he asserted that “It is high time to relieve ourselves from the ignominy we have already sustained, and to rescue and restore the national credit. This can only be done by solid revenue.”

On January 3, 1782, Morris sent this letter to William Moore, the President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He also sent copies to President of New Hampshire John Langdon, Governor of Connecticut Jonathan Trumbull, and Governor of Virginia Benjamin Harrison V.

Item #25778, $2,800

Declaration Signers Benjamin Harrison & George Wythe Appointing Surveyor Licensed by the College of William and Mary for Western Virginia

BENJAMIN HARRISON. GEORGE WYTHE, Partially Printed Document signed by President of the College of William and Mary the Reverend James Madison, and professors George Wythe, Robert Andrews and Charles Belleni, April 8, 1783. Followed by: two Benjamin Harrison Partially Printed Documents Signed and a Manuscript Document Signed as Governor of Virginia, June 3, 1783. 2 pp., 8¼ x 13 in.

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This commission is to be nul & void provided the present Surveyor, who is supposed to be killed by the Indians, shall be alive to return. The nullity to commence from the return of Mr Madison

The College of William and Mary’s 1693 Royal Charter provided a revenue stream by appointing the College as the Surveyor-General of the Colony of Virginia, with the right to collect fees for each survey performed. (George Washington, in 1749, and Thomas Jefferson, in 1773, were both licensed by the College as surveyors.) Here, the President and Professors of the College nominate Samuel Hanway as Surveyor of Monongalia County in western Virginia, and Governor Benjamin Harrison appoints him two months later, provided that the old surveyor has actually been “killed by the Indians.

Item #25779, $12,500

Extremely Rare 1777 New York State Constitution - the first edition in any form - and the Establishment of Provisional Government

[NEW YORK STATE CONSTITUTION], Pamphlet. [Fishkill, NY: Samuel Loudon, 1777]. Signed in print by President pro tempore Leonard Gansevoort. [3]-33 pp., 5⅝ x 8⅝ in. 23755.01
With: Pamphlet. An Ordinance of the Convention of the State of New-York, For organizing and establishing the [Gover]nment, Agreed to by the Said Conven[tio]n. [Fishkill, NY: Samuel Loudon, 1777]. Signed in print by Convention President Abraham Ten Broeck. 12 pp. 5½ x 8⅜ in. 23755.02

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After independence was declared, each state had to create a new government to replace their colonial charters. New York’s Constitutional Convention, originally convened as the Fourth New York Provincial Congress, assembled at White Plains on Sunday evening, July 10, 1776. Fleeing northward as the British Army forced George Washington’s Continental Army out of New York City, it deliberated at several locations. John Jay, Robert R. Livingston, and Gouverneur Morris drafted the new Constitution, which, with only one dissenting vote, was enacted at Kingston on April 20, 1777.

A second pamphlet printed the Ordinance passed when the Convention convened again on May 8, 1777, in Kingston, to establish a temporary government. The Convention appointed fifteen men as a Council of Safety, “invested with all the powers necessary for the safety and preservation of the State, until a meeting of the Legislature.

Item #23755, $5,500

Jefferson Signs Appropriations Bill Funding Federal Government and Making Hamilton’s Assumption Act Payments in 1792

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Document Signed as Secretary of State, December 23, 1791, Philadelphia [Pa.] Signed in type by Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Adams as Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate, and George Washington as President. 3 pp.

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The “ACT making APPROPRIATIONS for the SUPPORT of GOVERNMENTthe federal budget for 1792—was passed by the Second Congress during its first session and approved by President George Washington on 23 December 1791. It includes appropriations to pay off foreign debts incurred during the Revolutionary War, pay salaries and expenses, and fund the defense of the country and the departments of government. “There shall be appropriated a sum of money not exceeding three hundred and twenty-nine thousand, six hundred and fifty-three dollars, and fifty-six cents…

Item #21495.99, ON HOLD

Spymaster John André, Seven Months before His Capture and Execution

JOHN ANDRÉ, Autograph Letter Signed, to Gregory Townsend, Commissary General of the British army in New York. Head Quarters, February 19, 1780. 1 p., with integral address leaf, 7¾ x 12⅝ in.

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Major André, then Adjutant-General for General Henry Clinton at his New York City headquarters, relays Clinton’s authorization to purchase rum. André was also empowered to direct the British Intelligence Service in North America. This letter was written only seven months before the spymaster’s capture and execution for his plotting with Benedict Arnold. “The Commander in Chief bids me inform you with respect to the Rum…

Item #21467.99, $30,000

Washington Anticipates the Arrival of Count Rochambeau’s Expeditionary Force

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed, to [Captain William Dobbs], July 11 [clerical error in text states June 11], 1780, Headquarters, Col. Theunis Dey’s House [N.J.]. 1 p., 8 x 13¼ in.

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Washington, preparing for a joint offensive with the French, awaits news of the arrival of Count Rochambeau’s expeditionary force and gives instructions to William Dobbs, a pilot who had agreed to act as a guide for the French Navy in navigating unfamiliar American waters. “The French fleet have been seen and are hourly expected … you will be pleased to repair to this place … bringing with you, such pilots, as may be acquainted with the navigation into the Harbour of New-York.

Item #21195.99, $37,500

William Ellery to His Daughter on Her Future Role in the Household

WILLIAM ELLERY, Autograph Letter Signed, to his daughter, Lucy, June 9, 1766, Newport, R. I. 3 pp., 6⅜ x 7¾ in.

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Future signer of the Declaration of Independence, to his 14-year old daughter on the progress of her education and his desire for her to help manage his household in the wake of her mother’s death. “I want to see you put on the Woman, and begin to do that which you may be obliged to attempt sometime or other – The nice, prudent conduct of a Family is the greatest female Accomplishment, & to obtain this attention & Steadiness are the principal necessary Qualifications, & these are to be acquired by Practice

Item #21187.99, $4,800

Paul Revere’s Iconic Boston Massacre Print

PAUL REVERE, Engraving. “The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King-Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Reg.” Printed by Edes & Gill, Boston, Mass., 1770. First edition, second state (clock showing 10:20), original hand coloring. 1 p., LVG watermark, 9⅝ x 12 in.

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Revere’s print quickly became one of the most successful examples of political propaganda of all time. The depiction of the event, and a poem printed below, vilify the British Army and list the first casualties of the American Revolution: “Unhappy Boston! see thy Sons deplore, Thy hallow’d Walks besmear’d with guiltless Gore...The unhappy Sufferers were Mess[ieur]s Saml Gray, Saml Maverick, Jams Caldwell, Crispus Attucks & Pat[ric]K Carr Killed. Six wounded; two of them (Christr Monk & John Clark) Mortally...” Rushed into print less than a month after the event, Revere’s print helped unite the colonists and, in American minds, cast the British as aggressive oppressors— making rebellion easier to justify.

Item #25697, $280,000

Celebrating LaFayette’s Visit in Music

[MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE]. CHRISTOPHER MEINEKE, Printed Sheet Music. “General Lafayette’s Grand March and Quickstep,” Baltimore: John Cole, ca. 1824. 3 pp.

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When General Lafayette made a grand tour of the United States in 1824 and 1825, near the fiftieth anniversary of American independence, he visited Baltimore seven times. On one of those visits, he likely heard this march written by a local composer and church organist.

Item #23905.02, $475

Continental Congress Rejects Britain’s 1775 Conciliatory Proposal - Thomas Jefferson Drafted Message in a Prelude to Declaration of Independence

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS. [THOMAS JEFFERSON], Newspaper. Rivington’s New York Gazetteer, August 10, 1775, printing of the Congressional Resolution of July 31, 1775, rejecting Lord North’s Conciliatory Proposal that attempted to divide the colonies and weaken the move towards independence. Signed in type by John Hancock. The Resolution was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, for a committee including Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Richard Henry Lee. 4 pp.

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A proposition to give our money, accompanied with large fleets and armies, seems addressed to our fears, rather than to our freedom.... can the world be deceived into an opinion that we are unreasonable, or can it hesitate to believe with us, that nothing but our own exertions may defeat the ministerial sentence of death or abject submission.

Item #23545, $6,800

Remarkable Linen Textile, Rich in Patriotic Imagery, is Rare Icon of the American Revolution

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Textile. “America Presenting at the Altar of Liberty Medallions of Her Illustrious Sons” ca. 1783-1785. 26¼ x 44 in.

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Item #24406, $3,600
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