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Revolutionary War Copy Book Fragment Sells at Alderfer's for Impressive Price at Auction

                Image Courtesy of Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers

Johnathan Williams Revised

   Hatfield, Pennsylvania--On December 8, 2016, Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers conducted their December Fine & Decorative Arts Auction which included a large section of political, historical ephemera, and autograph offerings. With strong bids from the floor, internet platforms, phone and absentee bids, several important and historic items were sold at impressive prices.  

    A letter copy book belonging to Jonathan Williams (1751-1815), first superintendent of the US Military Academy and grandnephew of Benjamin Franklin soared to $35,965.80In an age before computers and copiers, persons who conducted extensive business and personal correspondence needed to keep manuscript copies of the letters they sent so they could be referenced at a later date.  The best way to do this was to hand copy the letters into a blank book as they were written. The letter copy book offered by Alderfer's on December 8th, was kept by Williams while serving as a commercial agent for the United States Navy in France during the American Revolution. The copies of the letters contained in the book dated from January of 1780, to February of 1785. The condition of the book, missing its covers and spine, belied the fantastic historical content contained on its pages.  The recipients of the copied letters included a who's who of early American history including Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Morris and others. While much of the content related to business, various letters were much more personal in content and gave a window into the thoughts and events that were then happening in the world and in America at that time.

 Image Courtesy of Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers

 Jonathan Williams 1

     Additional historical items of interest that crossed the auction block were an autographed document signed by founding father Benjamin Franklin, an autographed document fragment by noted scientist and mathematician Isaac Newton, an 1846, travelling map of Texas/Oregon/California, and numerous 19th and early 20th century presidential campaign items, as well as, other historical ephemera.

     The Benjamin Franklin autographed document realized $8061.30. The vellum document, a land indenture signed by Franklin on February 2, 1763, while serving as a Justice of the Peace for Philadelphia, showed its 253 year age. However Franklin's signature was strong and bold at the bottom of the document.

       The important and rare autograph of Sir Isaac Newton offered realized $8540.00. Newton, a famed 17th/early 18th century English physicist and mathematician, is remembered by many for the legendary apple falling from the tree onto Newton's head story. While probably embellished and changed over time, Newton's contribution to mathematics, the sciences, and the understanding of the world we live in cannot be underestimated. The document fragment was part of a donation register signed by several other notables. At some time in the past someone realized its importance and preserved it. The fragment's provenance included and original sales receipt from Goodspeed's Bookshop in Boston dated 1963.

     The folding map titled "A New Map of Texas Oregon and California with the Regions Adjoining" that was published in Philadelphia in 1846, realized $1586.00.  Maps of this type were used by many persons as they traveled west in 1849, to seek their riches in the gold fields of California. Written by Robert Lucas, Historical Ephemera Consultant for Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers


New Home Page - Alderfer Auction

November 28, 2016 New Home Page

    Alderfer's will conduct their next Fine & Decorative Arts Auction on March 29, 2017 with a section of significant historical ephemera being offered including Civil War diaries and other important historical documents.  To consign please contact H. Brent Souder, 215-393-3003. For more information visit, call 215-393-3000 or visit the Auction Center at 501 Fairgrounds Rd., Hatfield, PA.









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