Alexander Hamilton Auction Features Love Letters, Political Notes, and Hair
There’s been an Alexander Hamilton renaissance going on over the last couple of years. The Broadway show Hamilton has had a lot to do with that. It has transformed the much-neglected founding father into an international superstar. He is now someone worthy of a lot more than just a few chapters in a high school history book, culminating in a duel that ended his life.
And this renaissance has certainly added to Hamilton’s value in the political memorabilia market. He is as sought-after now—or even more so—than guys with last names like Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin.
Sotheby’s has its finger on the pulse of that trend. And on Jan. 18, the auction giant is set to put a number of rare Hamilton-related items on the block. These items come from the Hamilton family archive, and they are all actual letters or manuscripts. These include love letters between Hamilton and future wife Elizabeth Schuyler, as well as a number of diplomatic and military-related documents.
Here’s a short list of what you’ll find in next month’s auction.
Alexander Hamilton’s Appointment as Aide-de-Camp to General George Washington
Dated March 1, 1777, it’s signed by Alexander Scammell, adjutant-general of the Continental Army. Pre-auction estimate: $150,000–$250,000. For more information, go here.
Condolence Letter Signed by Philip Schuyler to His Daughter Elizabeth Hamilton, Following Alexander Hamilton’s Death in the Duel With Aaron Burr
This might be the real steal of the bunch. Just imagine what it must’ve felt like to have your husband shot dead in a legal duel.
In the letter, Schuyler tries to comfort his now widowed daughter: “Grief is natural on such an occasion as we experience but we owe duties to the living, which together with an humble resignation to the divine should induce to exert ourselves to become calm.” Pre-auction estimate: $15,000–$25,000. For more information, go here.
A Lock of Alexander Hamilton’s Hair, Accompanied by a Letter From His Wife, Presenting It as a Relic to Her Sister-in-Law
Sort of weird, right? But as we’ve found in other auctions of stuff from olden times in America, hair wasn’t something your barber swept over to the side and dumped after hours. It was seen as a lasting memento. In fact, it was customary to give out locks of hair in this era.
This one was snipped from the head of the deceased Hamilton by his wife as a gift to her sister-in-law, Mary Ann Sawyer Schuyler. It was literally her way of welcoming Schuyler into the family. Talk about morbid! Pre-auction estimate: $15,000–$25,000. For more information, go here.
Autographed Notes From Alexander Hamilton Prepared for President Washington’s Third Annual Message to Congress
These notes from Treasury Secretary Hamilton basically map out the president’s talking points for a speech he gave in the Senate Chamber to his cabinet on October 24, 1791.
Although Washington was ultimately the one who gave the address, these notes show not only how much he trusted Hamilton as an aide, but also that the speech was in the works long before it was given. Pre-auction estimate: $15,000–$25,000. For more information, go here.
To browse the rest of the historical documents in the auction, go here.