August 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Seth Kaller, Inc.

Catalogue Review: Seth Kaller

GW_Cat_Cover.pngThis week I had the pleasure of reading Seth Kaller's new catalogue, Washington, The Revolution, and the Founding. I say reading because this is very much a reading catalogue--full of histories, long excerpts from correspondence, and provenance details. This catalogue of highlights contains documents, newspapers, maps, books, and artwork that manifest the vibrancy of American history. Of course this is all par for the course for the NY-based Seth Kaller, who has acquired, appraised, and sold some of the most important historic documents.

The Declaration of Independence, for example. There are a couple listed here. A rare July 1776 broadside printed in Salem, MA (price on request) and two Stone-Force facsimile editions from 1833 (one unfolded, $45,000; one folded $38,000).

Some amazing letters are offered as well. One is signed by Washington imparting his plans to "execute an enterprise against Staten Island" ($27,500). Another letter, entirely in his hand, from 1780, seeks "an entire new plan" for the nascent nation ($300,000). His famous 'Throne of Grace' letter from early in his presidency ($315,000) is now back on the market, after its exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

The famous 'Tombstone Edition' of the Pennsylvania Journal for Oct. 31, 1765 complete with skull and crossbones at the top is an incredible sight ($75,000). It is one of many historic newspapers seen in the catalogue.

A letter from Martha Washington as first lady to her niece ($47,500) and a hand-painted ivory miniature of her by Louis Andre Fabre ($9,500) bring us beyond politics and the war.

And in books, John Hancock's Psalm book, signed by him with an autograph inscription warning against stealing (this book, presumably) is shiver-inducing ($68,000). Richard Rush, son of Signer Benjamin Rush, extra-illustrated his copy of Washington in Domestic Life, filling it with autograph signed letters between Rush and Tobias Lear, Washington's private secretary ($7,500).

And, forgive me, I could not help but love the July 3, 1776 receipt for Saltpeter ($2,750). The image of Mr. and Mrs. Adams singing about it in the movie-musical 1776 is too strong!