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Sale 811 — 1999 Rarities of the World

Sale Date — Saturday, 15 May, 1999

Category — Free Franks, Historical Letters

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
 
Sale Number 811, Lot Number 1, Free Franks, Historical LettersBenjamin Franklin, Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin. Colonial and United States postmaster general; signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, and the peace treaty with England; inventor, philosopher and publisher. Autograph free frank "B Free Franklin" on address panel (all side panels missing) with "Pro Patria" watermark, addressed in Franklin's hand to "Mrs. Franklin at Philadelphia via N. York p. Packet", presumably sent from England circa 1766 but no date to confirm, red "Free" in circle handstamp applied at New York, couple small sealed tears at bottom

VERY FINE EXAMPLE OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S DISTINCTIVE "B. FREE FRANKLIN" FREE FRANK.

Ex Stevens. With 1992 Charles Hamilton certificate

E. 25,000-35,000
0
 
Sale Number 811, Lot Number 2, Free Franks, Historical Letters, The Amistad Case. Autograph letter signed by Roger S. Baldwin ("R. S. Baldwin") to Theodore Sedgwick in New York City, datelined New Haven Nov. 21, 1840, red "New-Haven Ct. Nov. 20" circular datestamp, ms. "10" rate, receipt docketing, some soiling on one half of address leaf, the letter is very clean and readable

ROGER S. BALDWIN, ATTORNEY FOR THE IMPRISONED SLAVES FROM THE AMISTAD, DISCUSSES PREPARATIONS FOR ARGUING THEIR CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT AND DESCRIBES JOHN QUINCY ADAMS'S CONFIDENCE THAT THE PROSECUTION "CANNOT HOPE TO BE SUCCESSFUL."

The Amistad case, which was tried before the Supreme Court in 1840, established the important principle that the United States should treat any slave who escaped from illegal bondage as a free man. Ex-President John Quincy Adams, an anti-slavery advocate, eloquently presented the argument on behalf of the Amistad captives to the Supreme Court. At the time, the case attracted widespread national and international attention, but for many years it was lost to the history books. Its significance was recently revived with the production of a major motion picture, Amistad, directed by Steven Spielberg.

This letter, written in November 1840, explicitly refers to the case. It reads, in part: "The facts which were principally in controversy on the trial in the District Court, are now distinctly admitted on the record viz the authenticity of the Decree of 1817, the treaties of 1817 & 1835, the Ordinance of Nov. 1838, & the fact that the negroes are native Africans recently imported into Cuba. Mr. Adams, who spent the day here on Tuesday, in consultation, thinks the Govt., when they see the record, may abandon their appeal without a hearing; as he is very confident they cannot hope to be successful. If it is argued, he will go very fully into it. By the way, if, as you suggest, our friends expect both of us to argue the case with the Ex president, they must I apprehend be disappointed, as it will not be in our power to gratify them, consistently with the rules of the Supreme Court, which only allow two counsel on a side."

An important letter, which has only recently come to light

E. 5,000-7,500
6,250
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Sale Number 811, Lot Number 3, Free Franks, Historical LettersFrancis Scott Key, Francis Scott KeyFrancis Scott Key. 2pp autograph letter signed "F S Key" and datelined at Georgetown D.C. Apr. 2, 1828, to J. H. B. Latrobe in Baltimore regarding legal issues involving the American Colonization Society, for which Latrobe served as president for many years (he prepared the first map of Liberia), the letter pertains to a settlement arising from the transportation of colonists and cargo, red "Geoe. Town D.C. Apr. 3" cds and ms. "10 rate, several folds, still clean with bold handwriting, Key was not only the author of The Star-Spangled Banner but a very successful attorney -- the association between Key, one of the colorful patriots of 19th century America, and the society that created a nation for freed slaves is a very desirable bit of history

E. 1,000-1,500
3,250
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