Published: July 20, 2016
CHADDS FORD, PENN. — A rare, handwritten letter by American political activist, philosopher and revolutionary Thomas Paine (1737–1809) topped William Bunch Auction’s June 28 sale when it brought $14,160.
The 1804 letter had been published in The Aurora, a Philadelphia periodical, and dealt with American influences in the Louisiana Purchase. Though born in England, Paine is widely considered one of the most important American Revolutionary figures, having famously penned the 1776 pamphlet Common Sense that was highly influential in bolstering the enthusiasm for American separation from Britain.
Paine later went on to publish the equally important Rights of Man, 1791, and The Age of Reason, 1794. His admirers included John Adams, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, who claimed to have slept with a copy of Rights of Man under his pillow, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison, to name just a few.
Another lot of historically important material was a set of books by John Hawkesworth documenting the voyages of Captain James Cook, which sold for $12,650. The Eighteenth Century publications described Cook’s fascinating adventures in the Pacific that included the exploration of Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and the west coast of North America.
Asian decorative arts had a strong showing, led by a famille rose palace vase with unusual decorations selling to an enthusiastic collector in the room for $14,160. A pair of monumental Chinese cloisonné censers ornately decorated with dragons, floral motifs and mythical beasts finished at $5,535 and a lovely Chinese porcelain bottle-form vase decorated with an iron red dragon pursuing a flaming pearl achieved $3,567. Chinese furniture continued to do well, with an intricately carved armchair with dragon arms and crest selling to a Hong Kong-based collector for $2,300.
Noteworthy highlights also included a great 1966 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible, perfect for summer driving, at $11,500, a beautiful modern Steinway piano for $10,350 and a wonderful pair of Art Deco diamond and 18K white gold earrings crossing the block at $8,260. An interesting scrapbook of more than 200 European trade cards, labels and checks, mostly German and French, was a nice surprise at $2,645.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, www.bunchauctions.com or 610-558-1800.
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