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Lot # 1603 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1782 George Washington Signed Free Frank

Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $6,517.50

Envelope, dated December 26, 1782, bearing a free-frank signature of George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United States. Washington's signature has been boldly scripted "G. Washington" in black ink and grades "8/9." This particular envelope once contained a letter from Washington to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, as noted by the address (not in Washington's hand) next to his signature: "On public service [to] Major [Benjamin] Tallmadge/2nd Regt. Dragoons/ Fairfield [CT]." Another notation, written by a second scribe at the base of the envelope (next to the wax seal), reads: "Genl. Washington's Letter HdQtrs - Dec. 26th, 82."

Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States at the time this envelope was signed, but the war for independence was quickly coming to a close (Cornwalis surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, and the French army and navy had already departed by this time).While the actual letter conveyed by this envelope is no longer present, the message it carried is known to us because it now resides in the George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress. In summary, Washington directs Tallmadge to reward Brewster and his men for the capture of two boats responsible for a recent attack on a whale boat, giving the boats and goods captured as their reward. Benjamin Tallmadge was Washington's chief intelligence officer during the revolutionary war and the organizer of the Culper Spy Ring, which conducted covert operations in order to gain information regarding British activities in New York. It was through the work of the Culper Spy Ring that evidence of Benedict Arnold's treason first came to light. Caleb Brewster, one of the spies working for Tallmadge, was the commander of a fleet of whale boats out of Black Rock Harbor (Connecticut).

The envelope (7 x 8 inches, closed) displays fold lines, minor tears along the folds, a few tiny areas of discoloration, and residue from the wax seal. Despite those minor flaws, the envelope remains in extraordinary condition given its age and former use, and is in Excellent condition overall. This is an magnificent Washington signed piece that has special appeal to collectors of Presidential signatures as well as Revolutionary War enthusiasts. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $6,517.50

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