On Saturday at the Potomack Company in Alexandria, VA, historians and political buffs can have absolute fits of ecstasy at an auction of some of the coolest stuff EVER. And I’m not exaggerating much. For instance, as anybody who cares about American political theory knows, one of the single most influential writings in American history, and one which almsot all the delegates to the Constitutional Convention knew thoroughly, was that year’s Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, by John Adams (who was away at the time serving as ambassador to England). That was in 1787. How much would you pay for a copy of that masterpiece published the very next year, in 1788? (Yeah — wow!)
Then there’s the land-grant document signed by hand by both President Thomas Jefferson AND Secretary of State James Madison. Wow. And documents signed by Patrick Henry, William Henry Harrison, Henry Lee, Andrew Jacksonand John Hancock (or should that be John Hancock!, with outsized writing?)
Then there’s a whole bunch of incredible Lincolnia — a signed presidential document, an incredible early photograph, presidential visitation cards, and a marvelous seated bronze statue based on the familiar one at the Lincoln Memorial.
On top of all that, now-retired Sen. John Warner is auctioning (often with proceeds to go to the University of Virginia) an incredible array of his memorabilia from his 30 years in office, including a letter to him signed by Reagan and several photos of him and Reagan with hand-written notes from the Gipper.
There’s also memorabilia from JFK, Nixon, and Ford.
Leaving political history, there are some great collections of book sets from circa 1896: the works of Sir Walter Scott, of Rudyard Kipling, of Alexander Dumas, and others. And there’s a lot of great artwork, including a rare self-portrait by Charles Wilson Peale, famous for his portraits of early presidents. But again, I mention this all here because I imagine there are lots of history buffs and political buffs out there. And oh, yes, my wife works at the Potomack Company, which is how I’m aware of all this…. but if it were just artwork, I wouldn’t mention it here. It’s just that this historial treasure trove absolutely blew my mind, and I think it will blow yours, too. And the good news is that you can bid not ust in person but by phone or Internet. Click the link above to see how.
And if anybody feels like being a philanthropist and buying the Jefferson/Madison document to donate to the Quin Hillyer Historical Collection, I won’t complain! 😉
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