George Washington, Landowner
By Bryan Booher
George Washington was many things during his professional
career. He was a tobacco Planter, a soldier, and a statesman. What
most people do not know is that Washington's first profession was
that of a land surveyor, training which enabled him to recognize
the value of land during a time when a man's personal wealth was
measured in property; livestock and slaves included, but
Washington acquired his first
property at the tender age of eleven when, upon the death of his
father, he inherited the 260 acre Ferry Farm. The land on which the
farm sat ran adjacent to a larger estate, which had been given to
his older half-brother, Lawrence, whose name today is synonymous
with George Washington: Mount Vernon. Washington would eventually
acquire Mount Vernon and increase its size threefold, from 3,000
acres to 9,200 acres, as the adjoining land became obtainable.
Using his earnings surveying land, Washington began to buy up
land and build his fortune. By the age of twenty-one, he had
purchased 1,558 acres of land. At the height of land ownership,
according to The Private Life of George Washington,he owned
4,000 acres of the Great Dismal Swamp (located in Virginia and
North Carolina), 7,500 acres near the town of Tidewater, and lots
in Alexandria, Bath, and Winchester, all of which are located in
Virginia, and 23,000 acres in modern-day West Virginia. He also
owned 1,000 acres in Maryland, 10,000 acres along the Ohio River,
1,000 acres in New York, 3,000 acres outside Cincinnati, Ohio,
5,000 acres in Kentucky, and 234 acres in Pennsylvania. In all, he
held 69,605 acres in 37different areas, 24 city lots, and one city
square in his possession.
Washington did not just
let the land sit idle and uncultivated. He leased out large
portions of land to private citizens for their personal
use.Heritage is proud to offer
two such indentures at the upcoming December
8-9 Manuscripts Auction #6063 at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion
in New York.
earlier of two, dated March 17, 1769, is entirely engrossed in
Washington's own hand and bears the signature of the future
Founding Father an astonishingtwenty times! The indenture sets
forth the terms of a lease of one hundred and fifty acres for seven
pounds per year to the farmer Robert Thompson and represents one of
the twelve leases written by George Washington on March 17, 1769,
in Fauquier County. All twelve contracts involve lots or parcels of
land from the George Carter tract which was purchased by Washington
second is dated August 8, 1799, three months before
Washington's death,and leases a sizeable amount of land in the city
of Alexandria, Virginia, to one Ezra Lunt (and his heirs) for the
sum of seventy-three dollars a year. What makes this indenture
unique is the addition of the signature of Washington's wife,
Martha, as documents bearing both signatures of the first couple
are very uncommon. Strangely, this very indenture was cited during
the 1833 Supreme Court case Richard M. Scott v. Ezra Lunt's
Administrator, "...an action of covenant, instituted in the circuit
court for the county of Alexandria, by the plaintiff, against the
defendant, to recover sundry annual rents alleged to be due from
the defendant's testator to the plaintiff, under a deed executed by
General George Washington and wife, of the one part, and the
defendant's intestate, on the other part, by which a lot of ground,
in the city of Alexandria, was conveyed to Ezra Lunt, his heirs and
assigns, subject to the payment of an annual rent of $73, payable
to General George Washington, his heirs, executors and assigns, on
the 8th day of August in each year. The deed was made upon the 8th
day of August 1799..."
Reference: Francis Rufus Bellamy. The Private Life of
George Washington (New York, 1951); Reports of Cases Argued
and Decided in the Supreme Court of the United States (New
Back to Top
ABC to air The Great Big American Auction with Ty
Pennington & Heritage, Thursday, Dec. 8
ABC has announced that it
will air The Great Big American Auction, in a very
special television first made-for-TV auction event, at 10 p.m. (ET)
on Thursday, Dec. 8. The show will star Ty Pennington of Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition, one of America's leading reality TV
personalities, and feature exclusively Heritage Auctions' experts,
auction services and staff.
The special was produced by Cineflix (Auction) Inc. for ABC.
Executive Producers are Lisa Levenson, Ty Pennington, Joe Houlihan
and Simon Lloyd.
Ty Pennington has been transforming people's homes and lives for
several years now as the host of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home
Edition and has now found an exciting new way to change lives
by turning their memorabilia and assorted hidden finds into
treasures worth life-changing amounts of money.
After scouring flea markets, cellars, attics and yard sales to
find one-of-a-kind items whose owners have no idea of their real
value, Pennington, with a team of experts from Heritage Auctions,
tags the best items and brings them to The Queen Mary
oceanliner in Long Beach, CA for The Great Big American
Auction. The exceptional collectibles range from first edition
classic comic books to rare American currency to an early
20th century baseball icon's checkbook, and much more
in-between, all chosen for their rarity, value and the uniqueness
of the consignor's story.
"It's a great thrill to be part of this major network, prime
time show, to work with Cineflex and ABC and a star the magnitude
and class of Ty Pennington," said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage
Auctions. "We went to great lengths with our staff and experts to
make sure that all these unique items have great stories and that
they live up to Heritage's exacting consignment standards. We hope
that everyone will enjoy the show as much as we enjoyed being a
part of it."
Objects originally bought for mere dollars, or literally plucked
right out the trash will go for thousands of dollars as their lucky
owners' lives are changed for the better.
The Great Big American Auction will air on Thursday, Dec. 8
AT 10 P.M. (ET) on The ABC Television Network.
Heritage Auctions is always seeking "consignments with a story"
for possible future TV projects. If you think you might have a
unique item and a unique story, please let us
Back to Top
Space Medals Strong in Recent Space Exploration
by Michael Riley
By now, most everyone
will have heard the news about our very successful Space
Exploration Auction #6075, held last Wednesday at our Dallas
headquarters. Key pieces from the personal collections of our
nation's space heroes sold for astronomical [sorry] prices. One
area of space collecting that seems to be growing in popularity
(and prices realized) each auction are the various "official"
medals produced for the flight crews, starting with the Gemini
A company known as Fliteline produced the medals that
were flown on each of the ten manned Gemini missions,as well as for
the never-launched Apollo 1. In this auction, we offered a Gemini7-flown
medal in the gold color for $2,270, our highest realized price
for such a piece since April 2009. Bidding was furious on the two
Apollo 1 Flitelines consigned by the widow of Roger Chaffee. The
example sold for $3,585, while the gold-colored
version reached $5,377 (both Heritage records). More
information on this series of medals can be found in this article on
our website by expert Howard Weinberger
Beginning with Apollo
7, The Robbins Company took over manufacture of the crew's
souvenir medals. Again, prices were strong on these popular
serial-numbered, sterling silver medallions. Rusty Schweickart's
7 sold for $4,780 (a Heritage record price for this flight).
There were 300 medals flown on Apollo 8, man's first trip to the
moon. We offered two in this auction, one
from Apollo 8 CMP James Lovell, and one
from Rusty Schweickart. The Lovell example sold for
$17,925,considerably more than the other, proving that discerning
collectors are willing to pay more for medals owned by the
crewmembers of the particular flight. This same situation arose
with the two Apollo 13 medals from the same sources. Commander
Lovell's piece also sold for $17,925, considerably higher than
example. Both of these were record Heritage prices. Further
evidence of this phenomenon is that Schweickart's Apollo
9 medal in this auction was the first we've ever offered
directly from an Apollo 9 crewmember; it sold for $7,767, a
multiple of any price we've previously achieved for that mission.
Other flown Robbins medallions that set Heritage prices realized
records in this auction include the following: an Apollo
10 that sold for $15,535; an Apollo
12 that sold for $11,950; and an Apollo
15 that sold for $28,680. Our Senior Space Consultant Howard
Weinberger has authored two excellent reference books on the
Robbins medallions: The Robbins Medallions- Flown Treasure from
the Apollo Space Program and Collecting the Robbins
Medallions — Flown Treasure from the Manned Space Programs.
Both are must-haves for the serious collector. Howard has copies of
both books available;
e-mail me for information on how to order them.
also produced commemorative medals for two of the Apollo flights.
The Apollo 13 version did not fly; a PF64
Ultra Cameo (NGC) example from mission Commander Lovell's
collection reached a Heritage record price of $2,390. This is one
of the only original items available that has the names of the
original crew, including Mattingly who was replaced at the last
minute. The Apollo
14 Franklin Mint medal we offered from mission Lunar Module
Pilot Edgar Mitchell sold for $7,767 (another Heritage record). Two
more examples of the strength of crewmember-owned medals. For
further reading, we have a
detailed article on these Apollo 14 Franklin medals by Howard
Weinberger available on our website.
Our next Space Exploration auction will take place in late
spring of 2012. It's never too early to get in your consignments.
Hickey (extension 1264) with a list of your items.
Back to Top
Pleasant Surprises in Recent Americana & Political
by Don Ackerman
Although it wasn't quite a record-breaker, our Fall
2011 Americana & Political Memorabilia Auction #6066 did very
well by anyone's standards. The total sales amounted to $1.55M with
a 94% sell-through rate. We expect prices realized at auction to
vary from one auction to the next. Auction estimates can sometimes
be way out of kilter. Still, some of the prices achieved had us
shaking our heads. Perhaps we should "expect the unexpected." Here
are some examples:
A very colorful and rare Zachary
Taylor Bandanna had a vertical split down Taylor's portrait,
yet sold for $20,315. Two other items with a "flag motif" performed
well. Theseincluded a fragment
of the original "Star Spangled Banner" which made an [old]
glorious $38,837. A 36-star
Civil War-era flag with the stars arranged in a "lazy shield"
pattern fluttered away for $17,925.
not surprised when Lincoln material performs well, but the rare
campaign ribbon with an applied salt print photograph by
William Marsh had us rattled, nonetheless. It appears to be the
only known example of this design, but had some significant
condition issues. Still, the likelihood of finding another is
pretty remote, as reflected in the final price of $10,157 (Hurrah
for Honest Abe!).
Three lots of Andrew Johnson impeachment tickets made us blink.
With a collective low estimate of $2,700, the three lots (38143
through 38145) sold for $8,900 with the U.S.
Senate pass achieving a record $4,481.
Some other "zingers" included
rocking chair John F. Kennedy sat in prior to his assassination
($65,725), the Mathew
Brady camera ($65,725) and a Franklin
Pierce clothing button in the Non-Floor Session (estimated at
$400-$600, sold for $2,629).
It was a lot of work putting the auction together and a lot of
fun. Plus, these are the type of surprises we like. As always, we
need material for our May 2012 auction and would love to hear from
you concerning possible consignments. Contact me Don
Ackerman (extension 1736), or Tom
Slater (extension 1441). We'd love putting a smile on your
Back to Top
Weekly Internet Rare Books and Autographs Auction
Since March of this year, Heritage Rare Books department has
been hosting weekly rare book and autograph auctions online at
www.HA.com/Books. The sales
have been going strong, and we invite you to check out the
offerings each week as the auctions continue. Each Thursday at
10:00 PM, Heritage closes one weekly rare books and autographs
auction and opens the next week's.
Don't miss the opportunity to find some truly rare and
interesting books, each and every one of which opens for bidding at
$1, with no reserves. Just below, we've included a handful of past
highlights and six lots you might want to look out for that are
open for bidding now and close for bidding
this coming Thursday, December 8. Please contact us if you have
any questions or need more information on any lot in any weekly
rare books auction (or any lot in any auction, for that matter). We
look forward to hearing from you and hope you find much to add to
Back to Top
Explores our Heritage
Sotheby's, beware! Offering everything from
rare books to Lou Gehrig's jersey, Heritage Auctions under CEO
Steve Ivy grows to become the third-largest auction house in the
For years the nation's top currency and coin house, Dallas-based
Heritage Auctions has used its founders' entrepreneurial prowess to
diversify and flourish in recent years—partly at the expense of
industry giants Sotheby's and Christie's.
When actor Nicolas Cage decided to unload most of his vast comic
book collection in 2002, he used Heritage Auctions in Dallas to
execute the $1.68 million sale. In Orlando last year, a 1913 U.S.
Liberty head nickel previously owned by Egypt's King Farouk and
before that, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss (who sold it years
earlier for a paltry $200,000), was sold at a Heritage auction for
$3.7 million to an East Coast collector.
Read the full article here. (Requires the free
Adobe PDF Reader.)
Back to Top
Heritage Auctions Buyer's Premiums For Art,
Entertainment, Jewelry, Natural History And Books To Change,
Effective Jan. 1, 2012
Heritage Auctions has announced that, effective Jan. 1, 2012,
the structure of its Buyer's Premium (BP) will be changing in
several of its categories. While 13 of the company's 33 categories
will remain at 19.5% or 15%, the rest of the Heritage categories
will implement the change.
"We make very careful and considered decisions at Heritage, and
this was not one that we came to lightly," said Greg Rohan,
President of Heritage Auctions. "Heritage is a major player on the
world auction stage, and our BP rates will now be competitive with
the rest of the world's key auctioneers."
In the categories of American Indian Art, American Art, European
Art, Furniture & Decorative Arts, Illustration Art, Jewelry,
Lalique & Art Glass, Luxury Accessories, Modern & Contemporary Art,
Music & Entertainment, Natural History, Photography, Pre-Columbian,
Rare Books, Silver & Vertu, Texas Art, Timepieces, Vintage Guitars
and Western Art, buyers will pay a BP of 25% of the hammer price on
the first $50,000 of each lot purchased, 20% on the portion between
$50,000 to $1,000,000 and 12% on any amount more than
The minimum BP of $14 per lot will also continue to apply.
There will be no change in Buyer's Premium for US Coins, World
Coins, Currency, Wine and Arms & Armor, which remain at 15% or for
Americana & Political, Civil War & Militaria, Comics & Comic Art,
Historic Manuscripts, Movie Posters, Space Exploration, Vintage
Sports Collectibles and Texana auctions, which remain at 19.5%. In
Gallery Auctions, meaning those auctions with sealed bids, mostly
bulk numismatic material at Heritage, the BP will also remain at
Back to Top