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Debating the Bill of Rights Amendments in 1789

[BILL OF RIGHTS], The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser. Newspaper, August 22, 1789 (No. 3295). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18¼ in.

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Mr. [Egbert] Benson [of New York] moved that the words ‘but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms,’ be struck out. He wished that this humane provision should be left to the wisdom and benevolence of government. It was improper to make it a fundamental in the constitution.”

This issue of the Pennsylvania Packet includes key debates in the House of Representatives on the developing set of amendments that were later ratified as the Bill of Rights. It also prints the Act establishing the War Department.

Item #24831, $7,500

The Gettysburg Address – New York Semi-Weekly Tribune First Day of Printing

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. GETTYSBURG ADDRESS, New York Semi-Weekly Tribune, November 20, 1863. Newspaper. New York, N.Y.: Horace Greeley. 8 pp., 15½ x 20⅜ in.

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A rare first day of publication newspaper, with Lincoln’s timeless embodiment of American ideals prominently placed. From November 20, the day after the Address, this original issue starts with Edward Everett’s speech and a report on the ceremonies on page one, and includes Lincoln’s speech on the final page (making it possible to display both together).

Item #26142, ON HOLD

J.E.B. Stuart Writes to Legendary Confederate Spy Laura Ratcliffe

J.E.B. STUART, Autograph Letter Signed “S”, to Laura Ratcliffe. April 8, 1862. 3 pp., 3⅞ x 6 in.

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Full of braggadocio, Confederate cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart gives early mistaken reports of the Battle of Shiloh to an informant, the famous Confederate spy Laura Ratcliffe.“We are here quietly waiting for the yankees and if they ever come we will send them howling.”

Item #27574, $7,800

FDR’s Personal Copy of 1934 Textile Industry Crisis Board Report Countersigned by Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins, the First Woman Presidential Cabinet Member

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, Typescript Signed with initials, twice, on the title page. Roosevelt’s personal bound carbon copy of “Report of the Board of Inquiry for the Cotton Textile Industry,” September 17, 1934, Hyde Park, New York. 38 pp., 9 x 11⅜ in.

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This typed report was compiled in two weeks amidst a violent nationwide textile strike. In addition to Roosevelt initialing it twice, it is signed by his the chairman of the commission, and by Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve on a Presidential cabinet, in which role she played an important part in writing critical New Deal legislation, including the Social Security Act. The report was personally given to FDR at a meeting at Hyde Park to discuss the board’s findings which successfully brought an end to the strike.

Item #27690, $8,500

Brown University Holds First Commencement in 1769 - as Rhode Island College

[BROWN UNIVERSITY], Rhode Island College, Broadside, Commencement Exercises, September 7, 1769, Warren, Rhode Island. In Latin.

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Chartered in 1764, Rhode Island College - now Brown University - began in Warren, Rhode Island. The college’s first commencement, held on September 7, 1769, was the only one in Warren. In 1770, the college moved to Providence, and in 1804, the name was changed to Brown University.

This broadside, issued under the authority of the first chancellor, Stephen Hopkins, lists the seven members of the college’s first graduating class: Joseph Belton, Joseph Eaton, William Rogers, Richard Stites, Charles Thompson, James Mitchell Varnum, and William Williams.

The commencement was held at the Baptist Church in Warren. The event’s principal feature was a “Disputatio forensica,” or forensic debate, on the thesis “The Americans, in their present Circumstances, cannot, consistent with good Policy, affect to become an independent State.” According to reporting in The Newport MercurySeptember 11, 1769, James Mitchell Varnum (the future Continental Army General) defended the thesis “by cogent arguments,” and William Williams opposed it “subtilely, but delicately.” The president and graduating students made their opinion evident in their apparel; all were dressed in American manufactures. William Rogers also delivered an oration on benevolence, and Richard Stites gave an oration in Latin on the advantages of liberty and learning. Charles Thompson delivered the valedictory oration.

Item #27380.02, $8,500

Masonic Documents: James P. Kimball archive of master Mason, geologist, and Director of the United States Mint - with superb engravings

JAMES P. KIMBALL, Archive. Approximately fifteen ornate Masonic documents, many relating to James P. Kimball and his family. Kimball was a noted geologist and one-time Director of the United States Mint. Plus over sixty related letters, documents, and ephemera most of which concern Kimball’s Masonic activities.

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Item #22108.13, $9,500

Aviation Pioneer Amelia Earhart Returns from European Tour with Publisher Husband

AMELIA EARHART, Signed Photograph of Amelia Earhart and George P. Putnam, signed by both, June 24, 1932, French steamship Ile de France, Atlantic Ocean. 1 p., 9 x 6.75 in.

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This original black-and-white photograph pictures aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and her husband, publisher George P. Putnam, on the deck of a transatlantic steamship. On May 20, 1932, Earhart, who four years earlier had been the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic Ocean by airplane, set an aviation record by becoming the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She flew 2,026 miles from Newfoundland to northern Ireland, where she was greeted by a farm laborer. When asked by a British reporter what her husband thought of her flying solo across the Atlantic, she replied, “I had to sell my husband the idea because he was not over-keen, but he did not put any obstacles in my way.

Joined by her husband, she departed on a triumphant tour of Europe. She was received by the Pope, entertained by royalty, and visited governments throughout Europe. After her tour, she and her husband boarded the Ile de France on June 14, 1932, and began their journey back to the United States. This photograph was taken on the deck of that ship and is inscribed “To M. William” by Earhart and also signed by her husband. They arrived to a ticker-tape parade in New York City on June 20. She then flew to Washington, D.C., where President Herbert Hoover presented her with a special gold medal from the National Geographic Society, and Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Item #27329, $10,000

Amelia Earhart and Richard E. Byrd—Aviation Pioneers in Signed Group Photo

AMELIA EARHART; RICHARD BYRD, Signed Photograph of Clarence Chamberlain, Richard E. Byrd, Amelia Earhart, and Bernt Balchen, signed by latter three, July 7, 1930, New York, New York. 1 p., 8 x 10 in.

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This original black-and-white photograph pictures four aviation pioneers shortly before Byrd presented an Explorer’s Club flag that he carried to the South Pole to George P. Putnam (1887-1950), the Vice President of the Explorers’ Club and Amelia Earhart’s future husband. The Club was a men’s-only organization, which prompted Earhart to join the Society of Women Geographers.

From 1928 to 1930, Richard E. Byrd led his first expedition to the Antarctic, involving two ships and three airplanes. The participants constructed a base camp called “Little America” on the Ross Ice Shelf and began scientific expeditions. Among the participants was a 19-year-old Boy Scout, Paul A. Siple, who had been chosen to accompany the expedition. Among the achievements of the two-year expedition was the first flight to the South Pole in November 1929, piloted by Bernt Balchen. As a result, Congress promoted Byrd to the rank of rear admiral, making him the youngest admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy at age 41. Byrd would go on to lead four more Antarctic expeditions between 1934 and 1956.

In July 1930, publisher George P. Putnam gave a luncheon for Byrd at the Barbizon-Plaza hotel in New York City. Putnam used it as the occasion to announce several forthcoming books by members of the expedition, including Byrd’s book Little America, Paul Siple’s volume A Boy Scout with Byrd, New York Times reporter Russell Owen’s book entitled South of the Sun, and a four-volume set describing the scientific findings of the expedition. At the luncheon, Byrd presented Putnam with a flag of the Explorers’ Club, which he had carried to the Antarctic. Putnam stated that the flag would have a place in the clubhouse with trophies of Peary, Amundsen, and other explorers. In addition to the aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart and Clarence D. Chamberlin, other guests included Kermit Roosevelt (1889-1943), the son of President Theodore Roosevelt; New York Herald Tribune publisher Ogden Mills Reid (1882-1947); Cosmopolitan magazine editor Ray Long (1878-1935); and aviation pioneer Ruth Rowland Nichols (1901-1960).

Item #27328, $10,000

A Week After Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK Asks Treasury Secretary Dillon About the Possibility of a Run on Gold if the Crisis Had Lasted Longer or Involved a Total Blockade

JOHN F KENNEDY, Typed Draft Letter with autograph corrections, to Douglas Dillon, November 5, 1962, Washington, D.C. 1 p., 6¾ x 8¾ in. With Evelyn Lincoln (Personal Secretary to JFK) letter of authenticity, July 16, 1990, and small note card with Kennedy doodle.

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If the crisis had become more pronounced, if there had been a total blockade ...would we have had a serious run on gold? … It should be possible for us to get better coordination with the western governments…”

In this typed draft, with Kennedy’s handwritten corrections, the President asks Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon about the monetary implications of a prolonged Cuban missile crisis.

Item #27507, $10,500

Two months Before Declaring Israel’s Independence, Ben-Gurion Counters American Backpedaling and Pushes to Start the Temporary Government

DAVID BEN-GURION, Autograph Letter Signed, “D. Ben-Gurion” to Rabbi Yehuda Leib Fishman. March 23, 1948, [Israel]. In Hebrew, 1 P., on The Jewish Agency for Palestine stationary. 8.5 x 11 in.

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“As I was deprived of the possibility of taking part in the meetings of the Executive, I ask to be allowed to appoint a member to be the head of Defence … paragraph ‘C’ should be changed, by way of adding a demand for an immediate agreement that a temporary Government be formulated…”

Item #24454, $10,500

Harry S. Truman on His 1948 Proclamation Recognizing Israel

HARRY S. TRUMAN, Typed Letter Signed, to Benjamin Cohen. Independence, Missouri, March 25, 1970. 1 p., 7¼ x 10½ in., with envelope with printed free frank.

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As for your interest in the proclamation of May 14, 1948, any document or statement issued by the President goes through a series of statements to make certain of its accuracy and clarity of meaning. I continue to hope that a reign of peace will soon come to pass.

In this 1970 letter, Truman writes to Benjamin Cohen that his proclamation recognizing Israel’s independence was handled like any other presidential document. In reality, Truman’s recognition of Israel was sent only eleven minutes after receiving the news that Israel had proclaimed independence at midnight on May 14/15, 1948 (in the U.S., May 14, 6 pm, E.S.T.) The hastily typed original, with quick handwritten edits, is preserved in Truman’s Presidential Library. Secretary of State George C. Marshall and many others opposed the creation of a Jewish state. Any mention by Truman of his recognition of Israel is extremely rare.

Item #21308.01, $12,000

Theodore Roosevelt, Furious with Cuba's "Pointless" 1906 Revolution

THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Typed Letter Signed, to Henry White, September 13, 1906, Oyster Bay, New York. Autograph Endorsement as Postscript. On “The White House” letterhead. 3 pp., 8 x 10¼ in.

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Just at the moment I am so angry with that infernal little Cuban republic that I would like to wipe its people off the face of the earth. All we have wanted from them was that they would behave themselves and be prosperous and happy … they have started an utterly unjustifiable and pointless revolution and may get things into such a snarl that we have no alternative save to intervene - which will at once convince the suspicious idiots in South America that we do wish to interfere after all, and perhaps have some land-hunger!...”

This “Confidential” letter brims with significant content, as Roosevelt comments on hunting, disarmament, the Cuban Revolution, and the American voter. He expressed particular frustration at the inability of the new Cuban Republic to maintain a legitimate democracy. In September 1905, candidate Tomás Estrada Palma and his party rigged the Cuban presidential election to ensure his victory over liberal candidate José Miguel Gómez. The liberals revolted in August 1906, leading to the collapse of Estrada Palma’s government the following month, and to U.S. military and political intervention.

Item #27311, $12,500

George Washington: Rare 1777 Revolutionary War Hand Colored Engraving

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Print. With captions in English and French: “George Washington Eqer General and Commander en Chief of the Continental Army in America . . . d’Apres l’Original de Champbell [sic] Peintre de Williambourg Capitale de la Virginie.” Likely published in Paris, ca. 1777 to 1780. 1 p. 7.75 x 11.75 in. in a wooden frame 10 x 14.5 in.

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Lovely condition, drum-mounted on board, original full hand-coloring. Framed. Line engraving derived from the portrait done by “Alexander Campbell” with facial elements after the  Nuremberg version of the print. This enjoys the independent addition of battle flags placed within the image to flank the portrait.

Item #27113, $12,500

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

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

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

Early Printing of the U.S. Constitution, in American Museum—One of the First Two Magazine Printings of the Constitution

[CONSTITUTION], The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, &c. Volume II, July – December 1787. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1787. 5⅛ x 8¼ in., approx. 624 pp.

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These six issues of The American Museum magazine capture the events of the dramatic and remarkable latter half of 1787. They include the first magazine printing of the proposed Constitution of the United States, arguments for and against the ratification of the Constitution (including the first six numbers of The Federalist), and notices of the ratification of the Constitution by Delaware and Pennsylvania. Other great material includes the Northwest Ordinance of 1787; the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (one of the three accomplishments of which Jefferson was proudest); Daniel Boone’s account of his exploits in Kentucky; state actions against slavery; and discussions of a wide range of subjects from paper money and public punishment for crimes to Shays’ Rebellion and the promotion of American manufactures.

Item #26595, $17,500

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

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

Civil War “The Union Forever” Flag Made by Philadelphia Sailmaker, ca. 1861

[U.S. FLAG - CIVIL WAR], Large (204 x 150 in.) 34-Star Flag of the United States with an applied fabric piece across approximately three-quarters of its width, with printed motto, “The Union Forever.” Philadelphia: J. Chase, ca. 1861.

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According to museum records, original owner James W. Pancoast was a farmer in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He flew this flag at the outbreak of the Civil War, but was compelled to take it down, and fled back to the North.

The flag’s date is based on the 29 months that the United States officially consisted of 34 states. Kansas was admitted to the Union on as the 34th state on January 29, 1861. West Virginia (50 trans-Allegheny counties that had been part of Virginia) were admitted as the 35th state on June 20, 1863.

“The Union Forever” was a common slogan in the North on the eve of and during the Civil War. It was the theme of poems, songs, and campaign slogans, and was printed on envelopes, campaign and recruiting broadsides, ballots, textiles, and other materials.

Item #26743, $19,000
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