Published: April 12, 2016
NEW YORK CITY (AP) — A rare newspaper printing of a journal George Washington wrote as a young man, part of Eric Caren’s collection, sold for $173,000 at Bonhams on April 11.
The Maryland Gazette printing from March 1754 topped the presale price of $60/90,000 during the auction.
At the same auction, an inscribed King James pocket Bible carried into the Battle of Bunker Hill by a Massachusetts soldier sold for $161,000, double its presale estimate.
The items were among hundreds of historic documents and other items being sold by collector Eric Caren, a Woodstock, N.Y. resident.
The Washington document is a March 1754 Maryland Gazette publication of the then-22-year-old Virginia surveyor’s journal detailing his failed effort to convince the French to withdraw from the Ohio River Valley. The auction house said it’s the earliest procurable edition of the journal.
In the winter of 1753-54, the British governor of Virginia sent Washington into the wilderness along what is now the Ohio-Pennsylvania line to negotiate a withdrawal of French forces from disputed borderlands.
Rebuffed in his efforts, Washington returned a few months later with his own force of militiamen and Indians, who killed members of a French patrol, including a nobleman. The incident essentially touched off the French and Indian War, the North American theater of the larger conflict known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War.
Washington’s journal “is of profound historical significance” and offers a glimpse into an adventurous period in his life, said Edward Lengel, director of the Washington Papers at the University of Virginia, home to 135,000 documents pertaining to the nation’s first president.
“Put simply, it’s not only important but a fun read,” Lengel said.
The King James pocket Bible that sold was carried by Francis Merrifield, a sergeant from Ipswich, Mass., who survived Boston’s Bunker Hill battle on June 17, 1775.
After the battle, on the New Testament’s title page, he wrote: “I desire to bless God for his Kind aperince in delivering me and sparing my life in the late battle fought on Bunker’s Hill.” In an apparent salute to his weapon and comrades, Merrifield also noted the manufacturer’s number on his musket — 183 — and his unit, the 17th Regiment.
A complete report on this sale will follow later.
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