October 22, 2009 -- Rare first edition copies of volumes I and II of The Federalist Papers brought almost $150,000 to lead the combined Rare Books and Historical Manuscripts sales at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, on Oct. 16. All prices include a 19.5% Buyer's Premium.
While both realized significant prices, the fantastic copy of Volume II led the way on the Rare Books side of things with a final total of $77,675, while Volume One came close to that total, topping out at $71,700.
"These are huge prices on these exquisite and important books," said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage Auctions. "The Federalist is the most important work of early American political philosophy, and they proved once again to be the cream of the crop in American books."
Early American history dominated the top lots on both sides of the auction, as evidenced by the $31,070 realized by a moving and patriotic letter from the Marquis de Lafayette. Referring to himself as "an old American soldier and adopted Son of the United States, two titles dearer to my Heart than all the treasures of the world," Lafayette wrote the letter in January of 1825 as a thank you to the U.S. Congress for a gift of $200,000 for "services rendered to the American public."
"The politics of the young American society made a continued strong showing throughout the manuscripts auction," said Sandra Palomino, Director of Historical Manuscripts at Heritage Auctions. "Manuscripts relating to important historic events in particular are always in great demand by collectors."
Two manuscripts relating to then-Major General Andrew Jackson, his longtime friend and ally John Coffee and the War of 1812 are particularly evocative. The Jackson material was part of a group of items consigned by a descendant of John Coffee. This was the first time any of these papers have been offered.
In his "War Order Book", containing nearly 45 pages of general orders, court-martial notes and battle reports of the Creek War Campaign, longtime Jackson ally John Coffee is ordered by Jackson to "proceed to Tallashatchy, & destroy it." It realized $31,070.
The second Andrew Jackson-related lot again centers around orders for John Coffee in the form of a Coffee's Indian Removal Archive dating between November 1829 and January 1833 and relating to the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek removal activity by the U.S. Government, including hand-drawn maps, excerpts from past treaties, delegation expense invoices, letters, and documents. The archive, which sold for $15,535, provides important insight into one of Jackson's greatest challenges: the peaceful relocation of Native American tribes as demand for farmland increased, an effort that would ultimately fail and end with a deadly price paid by the tribes along the Trail of Tears.
The earliest American president represented in the top manuscript lots was America's second Commander-In-Chief, John Adams, with an autographed letter signed addressing three townships in New Jersey. In this document, Adams, only a year into his only presidential term, replies to "the Citizens of the Townships of Amwell, Readingtown and Kingwood in New Jersey" concerning the defining issue of his presidency: the diplomatic crisis with France. It realized $26,280.
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