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Sale 887 — The Dr. John L. Robertson Collection of U.S. Free Franks

Sale Date — Wednesday, 10 November, 2004

Category — Signers of Declaration of Independence

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
4008
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4008, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceJosiah Bartlett, Josiah BartlettJosiah Bartlett. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from New Hampshire (Continental Congresses of 1775-78), free frank "Free J. Bartlett" and address in his hand on folded cover to William Whipple (Signer and delegate from N.H.) in Portsmouth N.H., red ms. "Free", "Phila. Sep. 3" straightline on back, some slight splitting along folds, fresh and Very Fine, Bartlett was the first person to vote for the Declaration of Independence and the second to sign it

E. 1,500-2,000
4,250
4009
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4009, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceCharles Carroll, Charles CarrollCharles Carroll. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from Maryland (Continental Congresses of 1777-77), free frank "Ch Carroll of C free" (Charles Carroll of Carrollton) on folded cover addressed in his infirm hand to Louis M. Lane in Wilmington Del., ms. "Browns Tavern June 19" postmark, minor wrinkles and tiny edge tears, still Very Fine, undated but probably late (1828-32) -- as the last living Signer, the distinguished Senator Carroll was the beneficiary of an Act of Congress in 1828 giving him free-franking privileges for life (which last until 1832)

E. 1,500-2,000
2,400
Back to Top
4010
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4010, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceWilliam Floyd, William FloydWilliam Floyd. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from New York (Continental Congresses of 1774-77 and 1778-83), autograph free frank "Wm. Floyd Free" and address on large part of folded cover to Samuel Hazard at Newtown Conn., the cover has been cleaned, silked and refolded, pencil note indicates that the letter (no longer present) was dated at Philadelphia on Feb. 14, 1780, a Fine and attractive example of this scarce Signer's signature, very rare as a free frank, ex Grunin

E. 1,000-1,500
1,050
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4011
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4011, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceElbridge Gerry, Elbridge GerryElbridge Gerry. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from Massachusetts (Continental Congresses of 1776-81 and 1782-85), framer of the Constitution, member of Congress, Governor of Massachusetts, and Vice President under James Madison, autograph free frank "free E. Gerry" on small folded over to Northampton Mass., brownish-black "31/IA" Franklin mark and matching "Free" handstamp, both of Philadelphia, Very Fine and scarce Signer's free frank, Gerry's political maneuvering inspired the term "gerrymandering", he refused to sign the Constitution as he thought it gave the President too much power

E. 1,000-1,500
1,050
Back to Top
4012
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4012, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceBenjamin Franklin, Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin. Free frank as Deputy Postmaster General "Free B. Franklin" on Nov. 25, 1762 folded cover to Mrs. Katherine Green in Rhode Island, some expert restoration

VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN FREE FRANK FROM HIS TERM AS DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL FOR THE COLONIES IN AMERICA.

In 1753, Franklin was appointed Deputy Postmaster General for the Colonies in America. He had met the recipient of this letter in 1754 while visiting his family in Boston and had kept up a correspondence with her. In the spring of 1763, some months after sending this letter, Franklin embarked on a six-month tour to inspect his postal domain. While traveling through Rhode Island, he fell and injured his shoulder. Fortunately, Katherine Green and her husband, William, lived close by, and Franklin was able to recover there. Later, when fighting broke out in Boston, Franklin's sister, Jane Mecom, took refuge with Mrs. Green.

Accompanied by a transcript of the letter that originally accompanied this cover (now in the possession of the American Philosophical Society).

E. 10,000-15,000
9,000
Back to Top
4013
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4013, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceBenjamin Franklin, Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin. Free frank "B. Free Franklin" as Deputy Postmaster for the Colonies on cover front (restored with flaps) from London and addressed in his hand to Mrs. Franklin in Philadelphia, also endorsed in his hand "via N York pr. Packet", red London "Free" in circle handstamp, expert restoration not affecting writing

VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A HIGHLY DESIRABLE FORM OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S FREE FRANK WITH THE "B. FREE FRANKLIN" SYNTAX. THIS MAIL WAS SENT TO HIS WIFE FROM ENGLAND AND CARRIED FREE OF PACKET CHARGES AND INTERNAL POSTAGE.

This was most likely mailed in 1772, during Franklin's residence in London. With 1983 Charles Hamilton certificate.

E. 15,000-20,000
18,500
Back to Top
4014
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4014, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceBenjamin Franklin, Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin. Free frank "B Free Franklin" as Continental Postmaster General on folded cover addressed to Col. Bull of the Pennsylvania Forces at Perth Amboy N.J., neat "Phila Aug. 27" (1776) straightline datestamp, skillfully restored

FINE APPEARANCE. AN EXTREMELY RARE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN FREE FRANK AS POSTMASTER GENERAL OF THE CONTINENTAL POST WITH THE "B. FREE FRANKLIN" SYNTAX USED LESS THAN ONE MONTH AFTER THE SIGNING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

On July 26, 1775, the Continental Congress established the position of Postmaster General of the United Colonies and appointed Benjamin Franklin to the post. Slightly less than a year later, the Declaration of Independence was signed. He left for his historic trip to France shortly after this letter was mailed. Examples of Franklin's signature as Continental Postmaster General are extremely rare in any form, and this could be the only free frank in private hands.

Ex E. N. Sampson.

E. 15,000-20,000
30,000
Back to Top
4015
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4015, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceBenjamin Franklin, Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin. Incoming letter addressed to "Dr. Franklin, Craven Street in the Strand, London", originally rated "6" pence due but crossed out and sent free of charge, red London "Free" in circle handstamp, red "JA/30" and "3/FE" Bishop's marks, ms. receipt docketing "Dr. Robertson 1770" on flap (almost certainly in Franklin's own hand), some wear, opened for display of all markings and docketing, Very Fine, sent from the president of Edinburgh College to Franklin during his term as Deputy Postmaster General, which allowed him to send and receive mail free of charge

E. 1,500-2,000
1,800
Back to Top
4016
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4016, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceLyman Hall, Lyman HallLyman Hall. Signer of the Declaration of Independence, delegate from Georgia (Continental Congresses of 1775-78, 1780), Governor of Georgia, free frank "Free Lyman Hall" and address on folded cover to Elnathan Street Jr. at Wallingford Conn., ms. "Free" in another hand, with straightline "Phila Sep. 28" (ca. 1776) on back, skillfully cleaned to lighten foxing, manuscript strengthened in places

A VERY RARE EXAMPLE OF THIS SIGNER'S SIGNATURE AND POSSIBLY THE ONLY FREE FRANK IN PRIVATE HANDS.

This style of Philadelphia straightline is recorded from June 26, 1776, to August 12, 1777. The British occupied Philadelphia from September 26, 1777, until June 18, 1778, during which time the Congress met at Lancaster (one day only) and York (Town), Pennsylvania. Use of this postal marking in September points to a 1776 year date.

Ex Stevens (Siegel Sale 556, realized $5,250) and illustrated in his article on free franks of the Continental Congress, ex Grunin (Siegel Sale 750, realized $6,250)

E. 5,000-7,500
5,250
Back to Top
4017
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4017, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceJohn Hancock, John HancockJohn Hancock. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from Massachusetts, bold free frank "John Hancock" on folded letter "To His Excellency Commodore Destouche, Commanding the Fleet &c &c, Newport", also endorsed "Public Service", faint vertical file fold does not affect franking

VERY FINE. A SCARCE AND DESIRABLE FREE FRANK FROM JOHN HANCOCK DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR.

This cover to the Commander of the French fleet at Newport would have been sent during the second half of 1780 or in early 1781.

Ex Stevens

E. 3,000-4,000
5,000
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4018
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4018, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceJohn Hancock, John HancockJohn Hancock. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from Massachusetts, free frank "Congress Baltimore John Hancock" as President of Third Continental Congress (Dec. 20, 1776 to Mar. 4, 1777) on folded cover addressed in his hand to "The Hon. The Council of Safety of the State of Pennsylvania", receipt docketing on flap indicates Jan. 9, 1777 origin date and enclosure of a Resolve of Congress, lightly toned file folds, expertly silked and restored

VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE JOHN HANCOCK FREE FRANK AS PRESIDENT OF THE THIRD CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, THE ONLY CONGRESS TO BE CONVENED IN BALTIMORE.

After the retreat of the Continental army through New Jersey, Congress was apprehensive of an attack on Philadelphia and adjourned on December 12 to meet later in Baltimore, from December 20, 1776, to March 4, 1777. This cover was franked and sent during that time period.

E. 3,000-4,000
5,000
Back to Top
4019
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4019, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceFrancis Hopkinson, Francis HopkinsonFrancis Hopkinson. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from New Jersey (Continental Congress of 1776), Signer of Declaration of Independence, member of Constitutional Convention in 1787, autograph letter signed "Fras. Hopkinson", datelined "Continental Navy Board, Borden Town N.J. 21st March 1778", endorsed by Hopkinson "On Public Sevice", addressed in his hand to the Quartermaster at Easton, contents requests a public wagon to move the Continental Naval Chest, faint stains, slight wear along folds

VERY FINE. A SCARCE AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY FRANCIS HOPKINSON, SIGNER FROM NEW JERSEY, WITH A "PUBLIC SERVIVE" ENDORSEMENT.

This letter was carried by military courier ("P. Wm. Alricks") and therefore bears no postal markings. Ex Hart.

E. 3,000-4,000
2,600
Back to Top
4020
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4020, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceFrancis Lightfoot Lee, Francis Lightfoot LeeFrancis Lightfoot Lee. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from Virginia (Continental Congresses of 1775-80), free frank "free F. L. Lee" and address on folded cover to Landon Carter in Virginia, docketed January 23, 1776, on backflap, brownish "23/IA" Franklin mark of Philadelphia, red wax seal, minor reinforcement of folds

VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE SIGNER'S FREE FRANK AND POSSIBLY THE ONLY EXAMPLE IN PRIVATE HANDS.

Francis Lightfoot Lee served with his two brothers, Richard Henry Lee and Henry Lee, the former also having signed the Declaration of Independence. Autograph letters of Francis Lightfoot Lee are very scarce. This rare free frank is especially desirable with the 1776 year of Independence date.

Ex Grunin

E. 5,000-7,500
8,500
Back to Top
4021
E
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4021, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceRichard Henry Lee, Richard Henry LeeRichard Henry Lee. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from Virginia (Continental Congresses of 1774-80), free frank "R.H. Lee" on autograph letter signed and addressed in his hand to Patrick Henry as Governor of Virginia, datelined "Baltimore 5th Feby. 1777" with war-related contents, expressing optimism and speculating "If our army can be got up in good time I hope we shall deal effectually with these Tyrant's fools", age toned, some wear along folds

A FINE AND RARE FREE FRANK ON AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY RICHARD HENRY LEE TO PATRICK HENRY, TWO GREAT PATRIOTS OF THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE.

The year in which this letter was written -- 1777 -- saw a number of defeats for the Continental Army, but ultimately it was a turning point in the war when British General Burgoyne surrendered to Horatio Gates at Saratoga. At the time this letter was written, Lee was participating in the Third Continental Congress convened in Baltimore, the only Congress ever held in that city.

E. 3,000-4,000
10,500
Back to Top
4022
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4022, Signers of Declaration of IndependencePhillip Livingston, Phillip LivingstonPhillip Livingston. Signer of Declaration of Independence, member of Continental Congress from 1774 until his death in 1788, letter signed as President of the New York Provincial Convention, datelined "New York 7th July 1775 Provincial Congress", addressed to "General Wooster at the camp New York", discusses enlistment practices for servants and apprentices in his army, slightly age toned and splitting along folds, Very Fine, sent four days after Washington took command at Boston (July 3), the congressional franking privilege was not granted until November 8, 1775, in spite of this letters of this importance were carried free by an express or private rider hired by the Constitutional Post, the Army or the Provincial Committee

E. 750-1,000
4,000
Back to Top
4023
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4023, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceRobert Morris, Robert MorrisRobert Morris. Signer of the Declaration of Independence, delegate from Pennsylvania (Continental Congress of 1776-1778), Superintendent of Finance (1781-1784), known as the "financier of the Revolution" and Senator (1789-1795), free frank "R. Morris" as Superintendent of the Treasury under the Continental Congress on folded cover to Brigadier General Irvine, who was in command at Fort Pitt during that time, gently cleaned, Very Fine, possibly carried by private military courier

E. 750-1,000
2,200
Back to Top
4024
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4024, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceCaesar Rodney, Caesar RodneyCaesar Rodney. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from Delaware (Continental Congresses of 1774-76, 1777-78, 1782-84), Brigadier General in Revolutionary Army, autograph letter signed and addressed from Dover to his brother in Philadephia, dated May 31, 1773, carried privately as Dover was not on the intra-colonial post roads and endorsed "pr. Tom Black", silked on both sides, Fine, very scarce autograph letter signed by this Signer

E. 1,500-2,000
2,700
Back to Top
4025
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4025, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceWilliam Whipple, William WhippleWilliam Whipple. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from New Hampshire (Continental Congresses of 1776-79), free frank "Free W Whipple" and address in his hand on folded cover to John Bartlett, fellow delegate and Signer from New Hampshire, lettersheet shows watermark with allegorical figure in crowned circle, neatly docketed on backflap "Genl. Whipple August 24th 1779", gently cleaned, Very Fine, attractive frank from one Signer to another

E. 1,500-2,000
2,800
Back to Top
4026
c
Sale Number 887, Lot Number 4026, Signers of Declaration of IndependenceWilliam Williams, William WilliamsWilliam Williams. Signer of Declaration of Independence, delegate from Connecticut (Continental Congresses of 1776, 1783-84), free frank "Free Wm. Williams" on folded cover to Norwich Conn., sender's routing instructions "Via N. York & Hartford", "Phila. Aug. 12" (1776) straightline on back, some splitting along folds, slightly age toned

VERY FINE. THIS IS BELIEVED TO BE ONE OF ONLY TWO RECORDED FREE FRANKS OF WILLIAM WILLIAMS, A SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. A RARE FRANK FROM THE YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE.

Williams was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776. He voted for Independence, signed the Declaration, and was then appointed a member of the committee to frame the Articles of Confederation. In 1777 he was appointed to the Board of War. After the war, he attended the Hartford convention, where Connecticut ratified the Federal Constitution. The cover offered here was sent just one month after Independence Day. The other recorded usage was offered in our Grunin sale (Sale 750, lot 15).

E. 3,000-4,000
3,000
Back to Top
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