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    The Character and Portraits of Washington
    Exquisite 1859 Bound Volume of Washington Items
    Including a Washington Gold Funeral Medal, Baker-169

    Bound Volume of Washingtonia Including a Letter Signed by Washington and a Gold Funeral medal, Baker-169. Uncertified. Tuckerman, Henry T. The Character and Portraits of Washington. New York: G.P. Putnam, 1859. The Extra Illustrated edition. Boston: Goodspeed. Bound in full blue leather by Sangorski and Sutcliffe of London, gilt stamped. The spine is divided into six intricately designed compartments by five raised leather bands. The ornately designed front cover contains a protected recess housing a Washington Funeral medal. Printed on heavy stock with gold leaf pages. Contains 104 numbered pages, with 90 lithographic illustrations and numerous blank sheets interleaved between the text. Binding As New, contents Very Fine. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
    The Character and Portraits of Washington was inspired by the publication of a popular biography of Washington and the campaign organized by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union to purchase Washington's estate from his heirs in 1858. The original compilation, including several previously published essays on Washington and 12 illustrations, was published in an edition of 156 copies in 1859. The present Extra Illustrated edition was subsequently published by Goodspeed of Boston, with an additional 78 illustrations. The present volume is believed to be unique.
    Of special interest to numismatists is Appendix III, a list of 49 items of Washingtonia, reprinted from the Boston Transcript edition of February 10, 1859. The list includes fascinating tidbits of information, such as an early account identifying Martha Washington as the model for the 1792 half disme, pedigree information attributing certain pieces to the collections of contemporary numismatists like Jeremiah Colburn and Reverend Finotti, and general observations on Washingtonia in 1859. The item is signed A.S. (possibly Augustus B. Sage).
    Perhaps the most interesting feature of the present volume is the oval, gold George Washington Funeral medal, Baker-169, mounted in a recessed pocket of the front cover. This medal was originally designed for women, to be worn in lockets or other jewelry. The pieces were marketed by Eben Moulton, a Boston goldsmith and jeweler, in January 1800. An early auction appearance of the medal occurred in the Johnston, Butz and Hoare Collections (Henry Chapman, 12/1918), lot 517:

    " WASHINGTON FUNERAL MEDAL '

    "517 Baker No. 169. Funeral Medal. HE IN GLORY THE WORLD IN TEARS : OB. D. 14. '99 AET 68. Within a wreath of olive is a very fine bust of Washington in costume facing left, below, G.W. R. Same incused. Only known made in this manner and probably the die not otherwise used owing to the omission of the IS in the inscription as in the more common varieties all of which are round and have HE IS IN GLORY THE WORLD IN TEARS. Baker never saw one, though he mentions on page 78 that but three impressions are known-1 bronze, 2 gold. They were designed by Dudly A. Tyng of Newburyport and executed by Jacob Perkins of the same place; the portrait being copied from the profile drawn and etched by Joseph Wright in N.Y. in 1790. The common variety with HE IS were worn in the Civic Procession held in Boston, Feby. 22, 1800. Gold shell. Uniface. Oval. 16x19. Proof. Excessively rare."


    The oval, gold Funeral medal has always been a coveted item of Washingtonia, avidly collected by specialists and great collectors such as John J. Ford, F.C.C. Boyd, Virgil Brand, and Matthew Stickney. Perhaps a dozen examples are known, including several in institutional holdings such as the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Some specimens are mounted in period jewelry pieces, as originally intended. Others are mounted in Masonic housings. A nice specimen in the Henry Leon Collection (Stack's, 5/2007), lot 564, realized $34,500. The present piece is one of the finest known, with glittering reflective fields and finely detailed devices. The surfaces are bright yellow-gold, and show only the tiniest imperfections, such as a minute nick on Washington's cheek, not visible without a glass.
    Also included in this lot is a signed letter from George Washington dated August 5, 1773. The letter, addressed to Robert Cary Esquire, discusses insurance on a shipment of tobacco. Unfortunately, the letter has been folded and a 1.5-inch tear along one of the folds affects the signature. The paper is faded in spots, including a large rectangular patch at the bottom that does not affect the text. A few small holes are evident, but the main body of the text and signature are plainly readable.
    Altogether, this lot combines a veritable treasure trove of Washingtonia, sure to inspire intense competition from history buffs, bibliomaniacs, autograph collectors, and numismatists alike.


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Dates
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