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Sale 1215 — United States Postal History and Confederate States

Sale Date — Tuesday-Wednesday, 17-18 December, 2019

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*A buyer’s premium of 18% of the winning bid will be added as part of the total purchase price on all lots in this sale. Buyers are responsible for applicable sales tax, customs duty and any other prescribed charges. By placing a bid you agree to the terms and conditions of sale.

Category — Presidential Free Franks

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
2113
 
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2113, Presidential Free FranksGeorge Washington, George WashingtonGeorge Washington. One-page letter signed "G. Washington", letter in an aide's hand datelined "Head Quarters West point 14 Nov. 1779", reads: "Sir, I have recd. your ? of the 11th and am obliged by the intelligence it contains. Should you attain a confirmation be pleased to inform me and of the time which the fleet sails. Should the other embarkation which you mention take place, I shall be obliged to you for endeavoring to know of what Corps it is composed. I am Sir, your most obt. Serv." and signed, manuscript "Col. Seely" at lower left, some expert silking along folds

VERY FINE. A RARE REVOLUTIONARY WAR LETTER SIGNED BY GEORGE WASHINGTON AT WEST POINT IN 1779, DISCUSSING SENSITIVE INFORMATION RELATING TO MOVEMENT OF THE BRITISH FLEET. A WONDERFUL HISTORICAL ITEM.

George Washington considered West Point to be a strategically important location, from which the British could potentially control the Hudson River and split the colonies. In 1778 the Americans began building permanent fortifications. In June 1779, two smaller forts twelve miles away were overtaken by the British but were quickly recaptured.

The same day this letter was written, Washington wrote another to Congress (source: George Washington Papers, Series 3, Varick Transcripts, 1775-1785, Subseries 3A, Continental Congress, 1775-1783, Letterbook 5: Nov. 2, 1779 - Feb. 27, 1781). In that letter, Washington discusses Count D'Estaing and his hopes that operations to the south would have proceeded at a faster pace, allowing D'Estaing's fleet and forces to land to contribute to a possibly decisive victory. Washington also writes that it is getting too late in the season for a decisive victory, and he asks Congress to decide whether the cooperation should be abandoned. It is clear the letter to Congress was prompted by the information received on the 11th, to which the letter offered here was Washington's reply.

E. 12,000-15,000
Future Sale
2114
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2114, Presidential Free FranksGeorge Washington, George WashingtonGeorge Washington. Free frank "G Washington" and "Free" on folded cover docketed Morristown (N.J.) March 1, 1777, addressed to Captain Benjamin Tallmadge at Wethersfield Conn., lightly toned file folds and some minor wear and staining

VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE GEORGE WASHINGTON FREE FRANK AS COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE CONTINENTAL ARMY, SENT FROM WINTER ENCAMPMENT IN NEW JERSEY IN EARLY 1777.

Following the victories at the Battles of Trenton in December 1776 and Princeton in January 1777, Washington led his troops to nearby Morristown. The forces remained there for the duration of winter, from January until May 1777.

Captain and later Major Tallmadge is known for his service as an officer in the Continental Army during the War. He acted as leader of the Culper Ring, a celebrated network of spies in British-occupied New York, dramatized in the television series "Turn." He also led a successful raid across Long Island that culminated in the Battle of Fort St. George. Following the war, Tallmadge was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Federalist Party (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Tallmadge).

E. 5,000-7,500
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2115
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2115, Presidential Free FranksJohn Adams, John AdamsJohn Adams. Free frank "J. Adams" in a clear and steady hand as ex-President on folded cover to William Meredith in Philadelphia, clear strike of "Boston Ms. Jun. 27" (1806) circular datestamp with matching "Free" handstamp, 1806 docketing on flap indicating the contents came from Thomas Boylston Adams, the third and youngest son of John and Abigail Adams, writing from Quincy Mass., faint vertical file fold touches free frank but this is inconsequential

FRESH AND VERY FINE JOHN ADAMS FREE FRANK, MAILED FIVE YEARS AFTER THE END OF HIS PRESIDENCY.

The Act of March 2, 1799, granted ex-Presidents free franking privileges. President Washington used this privilege for only a little more than nine months, until his death on December 14, 1799. When John Adams sent this letter, he was the only living ex-President.

Illustrated in Chronicle No. 264 (p. 324)

E. 2,000-3,000
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2116
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2116, Presidential Free FranksJohn Adams, John AdamsJohn Adams. Large bold free frank "Free John Adams" on undated folded cover to the Rev. J. Belknap in Boston, partial strike of New York straightline and matching "Free"

VERY FINE AND CHOICE JOHN ADAMS FREE FRANK.

The recipient, Jeremy Belknap, was an American clergyman and historian, known for his History of New Hampshire, which was published in three volumes between 1784 and 1792. This work is regarded as the first modern history written by an American, and embodied a new rigor in research, annotation, and reporting (source: Wikipedia). Belknap died in 1798, so this free frank could have been sent while Adams was President (or Vice President)

E. 2,000-3,000
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2117
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2117, Presidential Free FranksThomas Jefferson, Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson. Free frank "free Th. Jefferson" on folded cover addressed in his hand to Mr. Edward Hall at Norfolk Va., red "Charlottesville Feb. 21" circular datestamp and additional manuscript "Free", small age spots and some wear

FINE COVER WITH A BOLD THOMAS JEFFERSON FREE FRANK.

Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the same day that fellow founding father, long-time friend and one-time political enemy, John Adams died, and 50 years to the day after the celebrated "signing" of the Declaration of Independence

E. 3,000-4,000
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2118
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2118, Presidential Free FranksJames Madison, James MadisonJames Madison. Bold free frank "Free James Madison" as ex-President on immaculate folded cover addressed in his hand to Professor Ticknor in Boston, "Orange CH Apl. 6, 1825" manuscript postmark and matching "Free", light file fold, Very Fine and choice signature

E. 300-400
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2119
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2119, Presidential Free FranksDolley Madison, Dolley MadisonDolley Madison. Widow of James Madison, free frank "Free D P Madison" on two-page signed folded letter to Mary Cutts in Washington D.C., "Orange C.H. Va. Dec. 12" circular datestamp, "F" for "Free" applied by postmaster, long interesting contents with references to Henry Clay, John J. Crittenden, Mrs. Martin Van Buren and the death of one of the Adams' children: "Your last from Quincy filled me with sorrow for those dear friends the Adams' whose precious flower has departed & has early to bloom in Heaven!" etc., Very Fine, a wonderful letter and free frank from former First Lady Dolley Madison, ex Dr. Robertson

E. 2,000-3,000
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2120
 
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2120, Presidential Free FranksJames Monroe, James MonroeJames Monroe. Free frank "James Monroe" as President on archivally mounted cover front only, addressed in Monroe's hand to Boston Mass., 1823 docket at left, fresh and fine

E. 300-400
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2121
 
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2121, Presidential Free FranksJohn Quincy Adams, John Quincy AdamsJohn Quincy Adams. Free frank "J. Q. Adams" in a shaky script on cover front only addressed to Mrs. Ann Adams in Quincy Mass., "Washington City D.C. Mar. 26" circular datestamp and "Free" handstamp, Very Fine

E. 300-400
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2122
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2122, Presidential Free FranksAndrew Jackson, Andrew JacksonAndrew Jackson. Large bold "Free Andrew Jackson" free frank as President on folded cover addressed in his hand to Portsmouth, N.H., red "Concord, N.H. Jul 2" oval datestamp and matching "FREE" in serrated oval, June 30, 1833 docketing and back with notation "Andrew Jackson at Concord, N.H. in reply to my letter of invitation by the Democrats of Portsmouth," trifle heavy vertical file fold through the frank, still Very Fine and desirable Andrew Jackson presidential free frank

E. 1,000-1,500
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2123
 
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2123, Presidential Free FranksAndrew Jackson, Andrew JacksonAndrew Jackson. Bold signature "Andrew Jackson" as President on vellum land grant dated November 1, 1830, also signed by Commissioner Elijah Hayward, file fold affects first letter of signature, Very Fine

E. 500-750
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2124
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2124, Presidential Free FranksMartin Van Buren, Martin Van BurenMartin Van Buren. Neat "M. VanBuren" free frank and "Department of State" on folded cover addressed in his hand to Philadelphia Pa., red "Washn. City May 17" circular datestamp and matching "FREE" handstamp, 1829 docketing on back, Very Fine, Van Buren served as Secretary of State under President Jackson, from March 1829 until May 1831

E. 400-500
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2125
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2125, Presidential Free FranksJohn Tyler, John TylerJohn Tyler. Bold "J. Tyler" free frank as ex President on blue folded cover addressed in his hand to Philadelphia, blue "Norfolk, Va. May 20" circular datestamp and matching "FREE" handstamp, manuscript "Way", 1853 docketing on back, light file fold through the free frank and small tear at top left, still Very Fine

E. 300-400
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2126
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2126, Presidential Free FranksJames K. Polk, James K. PolkJames K. Polk. Free frank "Free J.K. Polk" as President on folded cover addressed in his hand to George Bullard in Exeter N.H., red "Washington City D.C. Feb. 20" circular datestamp, light strike of matching "FREE" handstamp, with intact Presidential wax seal on back, Very Fine and choice, very scarce

E. 1,500-2,000
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2127
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2127, Presidential Free FranksZachary Taylor, Zachary TaylorZachary Taylor. Bold "Z. Taylor" free frank as President on cover addressed in another hand to Bayou Sara, Louisiana, red "Washington, D.C. Feb 4" (1850) circular datestamp with attached "Free", also additional manuscript "Free", fresh and Extremely Fine, Zachary Taylor free franks are generally available from his time in service as a general, but his presidential free franks are rare, owing to the fact that he died only 16 months after assuming office

E. 1,500-2,000
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2128
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2128, Presidential Free FranksFranklin Pierce, Franklin PierceFranklin Pierce. Free frank "Franklin Pierce" as President on legal-size cover addressed in his hand to Philadelphia, "Washington Cy. D.C. Feb. 17" circular datestamp with integral "Free," Presidential wax seal removed from back and affixed to top left corner for display, Very Fine, although Franklin Pierce free franks are relatively common, his presidential franks are scarce and this example with the intact wax seal is outstanding

E. 500-750
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2129
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2129, Presidential Free FranksJames Buchanan, James BuchananJames Buchanan. Free frank "Free James Buchanan" as President on cover to Lancaster Pa., "Washington City D.C. Apr. 22, 185(?)" circular datestamp with integral "Free", mostly intact red Presidential wax seal on back, light overall soiling, still Very Fine

E. 500-750
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2130
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2130, Presidential Free FranksAbraham Lincoln, Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln. Signature "A. Lincoln" as President on cover addressed in Lincoln's hand to the Honorable H. B. Anthony, U.S. Senate, Lincoln franked the envelope, but it was evidently carried by courier to Capitol Hill and has no postal markings

FRESH AND VERY FINE ABRAHAM LINCOLN FREE FRANK, SENT AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO A SENATE ALLY IN WASHINGTON.

Henry Bowen Anthony was a prominent Whig and later Republican politician, serving as Governor of Rhode Island, U.S. Senator and Senate President pro tempore. At the time of his death in 1884, he was one of the longest serving senators in history

E. 5,000-7,500
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2131
 
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2131, Presidential Free FranksAbraham Lincoln, Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln. 3 x 1-3/4 in. card with note in Lincoln's hand "Will the Sec. of the Treasury please see and hear this young lady?" and signed "A. Lincoln", dated in his hand "Nov. 17, 1864", light vertical crease just affects "A" of signature

VERY FINE. AN ATTRACTIVE NOTE WRITTEN, SIGNED AND DATED BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN SHORTLY AFTER HIS ELECTION TO A SECOND TERM.

The card is on paper (held in place with small slits so no residue or other evidence on card of mounting). Accompanied by two newspaper clippings noting Miss Mollie Rhodes of Fairfax C.H. Va. pushed her way past the guards and saw Lincoln. She told him the story of her family which left their plantation in Virginia to move north at the start of the war but were now destitute. He admired her spirit and wrote this note. She got the job and they let her keep the note.

E. 2,000-3,000
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2132
 
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2132, Presidential Free FranksAbraham Lincoln, Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln. Autograph Letter Signed "A. Lincoln" on 5.25 x 6 in. piece of paper, reads "Let this man take the oath of Dec. 3 1863 be discharged. A. Lincoln Jan. 2, 1865", slight split along light horizontal fold does not affect signature

VERY FINE. AN ATTRACTIVE EXAMPLE OF LINCOLN'S SIGNATURE WITH HIS NOTE INSTRUCTING THAT A REBEL SOLDIER BE DISCARGED UPON SWEARING AN OATH TO THE UNITED STATES. A WONDERFUL ARTIFACT.

On December 8, 1863 Lincoln issued a "Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction", which provided for a general pardon to soldiers and some officials in the Confederacy upon swearing an oath of allegiance to the United States. The Oath reads in part: "I, [name], do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the union of states thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves...and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves...So help me God.” Lincoln signed a number of these notes in early 1865, before his assassination in April. They are very desirable artifacts of Civil War history.

E. 5,000-7,500
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2132A
 
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2132A, Presidential Free FranksAbraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd LincolnAbraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. Attractively mounted photos along with what are purported to be locks of their hair, each with magnifier allowing for hair to be seen clearly, Mary Todd's magnifier has moved inside the display, Very Fine, with certificate from Cary Delery noting this was collected by Mrs. Caroline Wright, wife of then-Governor of Indiana, Joseph A. Wright, who collected the hair of political figures, it remained in the family until 1992 when her collection was auctioned at Christie's, it was sold again in 2002 as part of the Forbes collection, a fun item but offered on its own merits

E. 200-300
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2133
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2133, Presidential Free FranksUlysses S. Grant, Ulysses S. GrantUlysses S. Grant. Bold "U.S. Grant" free frank as President on cover with "From the President of the United States" imprint with "Private Secretary" crossed out, addressed in Grant's hand to Senator Justin S. Morrill at Stafford Vt., "New York Sep 16" circular datestamp at top right, 1870 docketing at left, flap missing, Very Fine U.S. Grant free frank on a presidential imprint cover

E. 1,000-1,500
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2134
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2134, Presidential Free FranksUlysses S. Grant, Ulysses S. GrantUlysses S. Grant. Free frank "U.S. Grant" as President on part-printed cover with "From the President of the United States" imprint with "Private Secretary" crossed out, neat "Long Branch N.J. Sep. 22" and quartered cork duplex cancel, addressed in his hand to "Hon. W.A. Richardson, Asst. Sec. of the Treas., Washington D.C.", cover with small stain at bottom left far from signature and address, otherwise Very Fine

E. 750-1,000
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2135
 
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2135, Presidential Free FranksWilliam McKinley, William McKinleyWilliam McKinley. Executive Mansion card signed "W. McK" and with note in his hand which reads "Genl.__, Judge Wheaton of N.C. is commanded by Senator Pritchard for Lt. Colonel in one of the __Regts. If this can be done - do it.", Very Fine, written just after the start of the Spanish-American War

E. 400-500
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2136
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Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2136, Presidential Free FranksCalvin Coolidge, Calvin CoolidgeCalvin Coolidge. Free frank "Calvin Coolidge" as President on White House Official Business penalty envelope with typed address to expert Mr. Edward Stern on Nassau Street, neat "Washington D.C. Sep. 19, 1928" circular datestamp

VERY FINE. A RARE CALVIN COOLIDGE FRANKING SIGNATURE AS PRESIDENT.

Free franking privileges were no longer necessary for presidents after Ulysses Grant changed the system. Penalty envelopes took their place, and presidents were given the free franking privilege for life after they left office. Included in Stern's book

E. 2,000-3,000
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2137
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2137, Presidential Free FranksFranklin D. Roosevelt, Franklin D. RooseveltFranklin D. Roosevelt. Bold blue autographed free frank on legal-size cover with "The White House" imprint at top left, addressed in pencil in another hand to W.T. Marshall, Washington, D.C., with clear "Washington, D.C. Aug 18, 1938" duplex datestamp

FRESH AND EXTREMELY FINE. AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE F.D.R. PRESIDENTIAL FREE FRANK. ONLY APPROXIMATELY HALF A DOZEN ARE KNOWN.

Presidents of the United States enjoyed the franking privilege until 1873, when it was abolished and the Executive Department Official stamps were issued (and later penalty envelopes). Although Congress has retained the free frank under various rules and regulations, it was never again granted to a sitting president of the United States. This free frank by President Roosevelt was technically a violation of the law

E. 2,000-3,000
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2138
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2138, Presidential Free FranksHarry S. Truman, Harry S. TrumanHarry S. Truman. Signature as ex-President "Harry Truman" on NATO Alliance for Peace first day cover with "Washington D.C. Apr. 1, 1959" first day cancel and addressed to him in Independence Mo., with label depicting Truman, addressed in someone else's hand originally as "U.S. Ex President" which Truman crossed out to read "U.S. President '45-53", with return address of Dominick Fabian in Portland Or., fresh and Very Fine, unusual item apparently done as a favor to a supporter

E. 750-1,000
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2139
c
Sale Number 1215, Lot Number 2139, Presidential Free FranksRonald Reagan, Ronald ReaganRonald Reagan. Autograph "Ronald Reagan" on Inauguration Day cacheted cover with "Washington D.C. Jan. 20, 1981" postmark, fresh and Very Fine

E. 200-300
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