Auctions | October 28, 2022

$1.5m Estimate for Historic Letter From Washington to Jefferson


George Washington's  personal letter to Thomas Jefferson: "a critical piece of correspondence between two of the nation’s founders"

Philadelphia - The day after the completion and signing of the Constitution of the United States of America in September 1787, George Washington sent a copy of the landmark document to Thomas Jefferson, along with a personal letter announcing its adoption. In Freeman’s November 15 Books and Manuscripts: Rare Americana auction, that letter will be offered with an estimate of$1,000,000-1,500,000 (Lot 14).

“We’re delighted that collectors of rare and important early American documents will have the opportunity to bid on this extraordinary document this fall,” says Darren Winston, Head of Freeman’s Books and Manuscripts department. “This critical piece of correspondence between two of the nation’s founders is sure to inspire competitive bidding.”

As a companion to this letter, Books and Manuscripts: Rare Americana also includes a lengthy and oft-quoted letter from a 72-year-old Jefferson to Amos Cook, in which the elder statesman reflects on freedom, wisdom, and happiness (Lot 15; estimate: $80,000-120,000). Perhaps more importantly, Jefferson included the letter above from Washington, sent to him by the future president, in 1787.

Books and Manuscripts: Rare Americana tells the story of early America, charting foundational events through books, manuscripts, documents, and letters. With a strong emphasis on material related to early presidents and Founding Fathers, the auction includes a first edition of the first United States census, signed by Thomas Jefferson (Lot 18; estimate: $60,000-90,000), a rare first newspaper printing of George Washington’s first presidential Thanksgiving proclamation (Lot 17; estimate: $20,000-30,000), and a very rare second day printing of the Constitution in The Pennsylvania Herald newspaper (Lot 16;estimate: $100,000-150,000).

In addition to letters and documents, Books and Manuscripts: Rare Americana also offers a unique collecting opportunity in a rare 18th-century first edition of the celebrated “Bible of the Revolution”, the first complete English-language Bible printed in America (Lot 8;estimate: $20,000-30,000). There are Revolutionary War-era documents printed by Paul Revere, letters from Alexander Hamilton, Major General Nathanael Greene, anda series of letters by Ebenezer Mattoon giving an hour-by-hour account of the 1800 presidential election inside the room where the ballots were counted.